On the cusp of a breakthrough, Ministry funding from the National Board falls through for an unfashionable archaeological dig to the very origins of the Kharuen city-state. You play the project leader, illegally visiting the excavation site one last time under cover of darkness, using field tools of the future (palmcorder, wrist-lamps, nubblex gloves) to investigate the Late Arcanic catacombs of the philosopher-priest hierophant mystery cultists of the last dynasty, all the while reflecting on their relevance to the present day and your own role in it.
Using deceptively simple multiple-choice selections and the occasional invocation of an inventory item, this game acts as a guided tour by a certified expert, your narrating protagonist, into the remains of a fictitious civilization, translating glyphs and interpreting the values and fundamental doctrines of people long dead through the esoteric rituals of Gahbra and Ykrasia depicted in their frescoes and statuary. The exploration is external but parallel internal investigation follows suit; numerous different endings result depending on your studies, values and cleverness in perceiving the workings of antique machinery, reflecting on the anti-historical politics of the day and informing what is only suggested -- where the protagonist's story proceeds following the completion of the game.
This game took first prize in the 2001 LOTECH competition, for interactive fiction played by making selections from multiple-choice lists of actions.
Winner of the 2001 LOTECHComp and deservedly so, Kingdom Without End is a wonderfully well-written CYOA (Choose Your Own Adventure) game. The setting is none too interesting - like in Infidel and countless games, you are exploring the excavated ruins of an ancient civilization. What makes KWE stands out is the very innovative use of CYOA's multiple-choice format: rather than telling a story with broad, unrelated options like a) go to the fair, b) fight the thief, or c) play piano, KWE instead offers options that are what you would write had this been a normal text-parser IF games. For example, the game will ask you to choose from a) look at the relic, b) look at wall painting, c) look at ceiling, d) go south, e) go north, et cetera. What this means is that the game has many more multiple choices for each room than in a typical CYOA book or game: instead of 3-4 choices, you get at least twice as many in most circumstances. This makes for a very interesting gaming experience that's augmented by excellent writing and clever puzzles (including a nice variant of one well-known weighting problem). The game even allow the use of inventory objects (similar to Fighting Fantasy books, for example), thus giving it an added layer of complexity. If you enjoy CYOA books or IF titles in general, Kingdom Without End is simply a must-play.
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