Even though the game has graphics, Mindshadow is still a text-based adventure. And, as such, its second rate parser really hurts it in terms of playability.
During the tutorial sequence, Mindshadow boasts about its powerful and versatile parser that allows you to use complete and complex sentences. The way it's portrayed you would almost think Mindshadow could telepathically read your mind and discern what you want to do. In reality, that's not how it works.
The game routinely lets you know that it doesn't understand the word you've used or it doesn't know what you mean. Instead of using complex sentences, you very quickly find yourself reduced to the most basic verb-noun pairings like "talk doctor" or "look map." The game even makes basic English mistakes when responding to you; try to "sit down" and Mindshadow tells you that "You can't sit the down."
Other text-based adventure games have had similarly limited parsers while still managing to be enjoyable, so it's not a problem that can't be overcome. At times, Mindshadow compounds the frustration by relying entirely on its graphics instead of using them as a supplement to the textual descriptions.
Sometimes you have to interact with items or objects in a scene that aren't mentioned in the text; you only know they exist by the graphics. In a game with good graphics, this isn't a problem; Mindshadow, though, doesn't have that luxury. Instead, you have to deal with rudimentary and poorly drawn CGA graphics and have to guess what some objects are since they're not drawn well enough to be recognizable.
The game also has individual object pictures for items you can pick up. In the first screen, for example, you see a shell in the middle of a beach and, when you pick it up, its picture disappears from the graphical display of the beach. Unfortunately, there's an unexpected side effect -- when you drop all your items in one screen, the icons clutter up the whole display, making for an incomprehensibly ugly picture.
Mindshadow does have some good points. As an amnesiac trying to regain your identity, you must gather clues and, at the same time, think about certain keywords to regain your lost memories. This is a decent idea that is, unfortunately, only partially taken advantage of in Mindshadow.
Another good idea that Mindshadow tries to implement is the use of macros. By pressing the function keys, you can call up frequently used commands like "get" or "talk to." This saves a lot of typing time for slower typists and is a concept that all text-adventure games should incorporate.
Mindshadow is basically a second-rate Amnesia with weaker graphics. It has its moments but, unless you're a diehard fan of the genre, you won't get much enjoyment out of the game.
Graphics: The graphics are ugly. The poorly drawn scenes actually interfere with gameplay, as you have to guess at some unidentifiable objects that appear on screen.
Enjoyment: The puzzles are fairly logical but the text parser is somewhat limited and the game is too short to really get into. Some of the puzzles are also a little unfair, such as a cave where you have to dig despite the fact there are no clues indicating this is the action needed.
Replay Value: There's no reason to play the game again since the puzzles don't change and nothing would change from the first time through.
At the beginning of Mindshadow you find yourself on a lonely beach in a lifeless hut. With a headache and no memory.
The object of the game is to completely regain your memory. As you progress in the game a word or phrase will trigger memories of the past. Like most adventure games the fun of the game is centered on discovery of you and your surroundings.
Very original adventure game. You've lost your mind and have to find it back. The interaction is very well made.
Mindshadow was the first original game Interplay ever did, and remains today one of the most inventive interactive fiction titles. In the words of designer and Interplay's founder Brian Fargo: "Based loosely on the old Robert Ludlum novels, it focused on the main character losing his identity and trying to claim it back. It was a very unique game concept at the time and one of the clever aspects was that players would enter THINK NOUN and each time the player entered a word that related to the past, part of your memory came back. You actually won when you reclaimed your whole past." Another fun feature is the on-line hint function, which you can get by typing HELP CONDOR (even the designers themselves had no idea where this came from). The game was definitely an inspiration on games such as Amnesia and Deja Vu. Mindshadow is definitely a must-have not only because it was the granddaddy of all amnesiac games, but because it is a great game in its own right, although it is a tad too short and solutions to some puzzles are obscure.
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