Reputedly the largest z-code (Inform format) IF title ever made, The Mulldoon Legacy is a very ambitious game by Jon Ingold that will challenge even the most hardened experts and will take anyone months to solve. Duncan Stevens, as usual, wrote an excellent and very comprehensive review that I will quote liberally here: |
"The initial premise is familiar – explore your grandfather's museum so that you can understand your legacy – but it gives rise to a highly convoluted story. Part of the reason that it's huge is that it's absolutely chock-full of puzzles. Moreover, a lot of the puzzles are quite difficult, sufficiently so that you shouldn't expect this to take less than several weeks. The length and complexity adds to the difficulty, in fact, since you may be required to connect one puzzle with an earlier event that you might have encountered several weeks before, or with an object that you haven't touched in a month. Similarly, you accumulate quite a few objects by the end of the game, meaning that it's easy to (a) lose track of some in the shuffle and (b) to overlook the connection between the latest puzzle and one of the objects in your archive.
That brings up another point, however, namely that the puzzles in Mulldoon generally don't boil down to apply-the-right-object. (There *are* quite a few keys and locked doors, but there are creative twists associated with those.) Some of them are set pieces – they could have been wrenched out of the code and plunked down in another puzzle-fest – but many turn on applying knowledge in relatively subtle ways, and even the set pieces are creative. There's an entertaining variant on the Zork III Royal Puzzle, for example, and another scene involving the manipulation of a marble maze that's done in a surprisingly novel way. They come from a variety of genres, too – there's a cryptic crossword clue that unlocks one puzzle, a chemistry problem of sorts that features in another, and a math/logic problem at another point. There are a few old chestnuts, to be sure; you assemble the ingredients for a potion over the course of the game, and collect a set of four related objects as well. But there's enough of the game that doesn't depend on those old chestnuts to make it bearable for the IF veteran.
The puzzles themselves... well, a lot of them are hard, and some of them are unfairly hard. Not all, but some; sometimes because they require non-intuitive leaps that simply don't come naturally, and sometimes because they assume that you're picturing something the way the author is, which isn't necessarily so. (One of those moments, unfortunately, comes very near the beginning of the game.) I'd like to recommend Mulldoon Legacy as a game for the puzzle fan to plow through without help, but I can't honestly do that, because there are a few puzzles whose logic is unclear to me even now. In other words, if you don't keep a walkthrough handy, you're liable to bog down, and when you give in and check the solution and find something completely unexpected, you're liable to lose faith in the game. Again, though, they're not all bad, and most of them are good enough to be worth spending some time on before you move on.
Mulldoon Legacy doesn't appear to have the most vivid setting initially – you're wandering around an old museum looking for your grandfather. But one of its whimsical charms is the way it keeps pouring more and more incongruous mishmash onto the scene while occasionally transporting you off it entirely, of course; it's my belief that the author intended to try to make the player lose track of what's within the primary setting and what's outside it. The game spends a while teetering on the edge between a chamber of curios and something like fantasy and sci-fi (before eventually toppling full-bore into the latter), and while it's teetering, the author milks the expectations-confounding game for all it's worth. Not all that notable if you've had the genre bait-and-switch done to you before, perhaps, but still fun if you like having your head messed with.
While Mulldoon is at heart more puzzlefest than story, it does a better-than-average job of integrating its puzzles with its plot and of making the latter more than a token effort, and is arguably notable simply for those accomplishments. If you're not a fan of puzzlefests, you may not get much out of this, but it's a well-put-together game nonetheless."
In short, if you love challenging puzzles and games with epic scope, The Mulldoon Legacy is a must-have. It may not draw you in as much as Curses!, but the writing and puzzles are both strong enough to keep you occupied for a long, long time, and there are more than a few surprises along the way – including some very nice ASCII graphics ;) Two thumbs up, and a well-deserved induction into our Hall of Belated Fame.
Reviewed by: Underdogs