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Curious but uninvolving
Varitale loosely fits into the interactive fiction genre but if that sounds interesting to you, then be warned that it's a far cry from the likes of classic text adventures such as Zork or The Pawn. Instead, this one bears more than a passing resemblance to the Choose Your Own Adventure and Fighting Fantasy-style gamebooks but which is only really worthy of investigation by the curious or truly hardcore interactive fiction fan. There are two full adventures on display here, The Secret of the Broken Door and Space Terror!, which are both pretty ropey stuff but what is perhaps most interesting about this package is that the stories are not only intended to be played through but also extended by the creative player. If simply played as an interactive adventure, the games present you with a variety of choices at certain points in the story but what is more enticing is that you can also add you own twists and turns and which are limited only by your imagination. The whole makes use of a fairly simple set of commands, which lacks the usual set of options found in most interactive fiction and this is more like reading a book than actually being in a real adventure. While the two stories do features some slyly humorous writing, even the game's author acknowledges the fact that they are both pretty awful, and both tales are cheesy and less than engaging, with some crass characters and less than stellar writing to endure. The possibility to add your own twists on the stories is intriguing but sadly it's not enough to save this from being little more than a curiosity.