One of the best, but also most frustratingly difficult, pieces of IF I've ever played. C.E. Forman's review for XYZZYNews says it all about this quirky classic: |
"A winner in the 1994 AGT programming contest, the three-part epic Klaustrophobia chronicles your exploits as you leave on a two-week vacation from ICON Inc., your place of employment. Although strongly influenced by Infocom's Bureaucracy both in its humor as well as its events and puzzles, Klaustrophobia remains a very original, very challenging, and at times extraordinarily frustrating adventure.
This is also one enormous game. It's so large, in fact, that it's been divided into three separate segments, apparently due to restrictions in AGT. When you reach the end of one section you can save your status and go on to the next portion, but you can't start from Parts 2 or 3 until you've solved the sections prior to them. The menuing system for this behaves rather strangely, though. Selecting to play the whole game at once, then typing "QUIT" in one section, will move you to the next rather than exiting the game entirely.
Unfortunately, the game also serves as a perfect guide to the restrictions of the AGT system. IF fans familiar with the AGT parser know that it's unpleasantly quirky under the best of circumstances and can be absolutely infuriating in others. "Guess-the-Verb" games are not uncommon. To be fair, though, the author seems to have realized the restraints of her development system, and in most cases has made a serious effort to deal with them, or has at least attempted to cover them up. Klaustrophobia really pushes the limits of AGT, and the tremendous effort that went into it shows. The writing is also extremely well-done, with references to Bureaucracy, Hitchhiker's Guide, and the novels of Douglas Adams.
Like the author, you're a female by default in Klaustrophobia, but you can elect to change and become a male at any point in the game (with humorous results in a few special circumstances). Your character's sex has almost no impact on the game's story or puzzles, though.
...This game is hard with a capital H. The difficulty stems equally from the puzzles – most of which are very good (I loved the MacGyver bit!) – and the AGT parser's limitations. Intelligent, hilarious, and occasionally so true-to-life that it's scary, Klaustrophobia deserves a place in every IF hobbyist's library. Until someone decides to port the game to Inform or TADS, though, it's likely to remain every bit as aggravating as the situations it makes fun of. But when one looks at the game itself, apart from the system it was developed on, Klaustrophobia is excellent." Highly recommended, but be prepared for some frustrating gaming sessions with the game's limited parser and difficult puzzles.
Reviewed by: Underdogs