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Game #2265
Hall of Belated Fame Inductee  Aisle    View all Top Dogs in this genre
Interactive Fiction   Multiple endings

Rating: 8.21 (23 votes)

Aisle box cover

Aisle screenshot
Well-deserved XYZZY Award winner in the “Best Use of Medium” category, Aisle is highly original piece of IF that invents a whole new category of games. It’s also one of the most successful “experimental” IF – games that defy the conventional solve-puzzles-to-win paradigm of the genre. Duncan Stevens’ eloquent SPAG review says it all about how Aisle is so compelling:

"The premise is simple: the game has one move, and it "ends" after that move and automatically sends you back to your original position. By interacting with what's around you -- and by incorporating knowledge gained thereby into future moves -- you learn about your own character and make sense of his various neuroses, fears, and hangups (to some degree, anyway). In the process, you get a sense -- at least, I did -- that your character, in this one move, is at a crossroads of sorts (or, at least, that the moment can mark a turning point, a change, if treated that way),and you take a look at where various paths might lead. In a sense, it's IF compressed -- while most good IF lets the player decide how a story will come out, to some extent, but draws that input out over several dozen or hundred moves, Aisle limits the input to one turn and tells the rest of the story for you. This structure allows the author to greatly multiply the range of options available, of course.

In practice, however, Aisle can be thoroughly confusing--in part because the author both lets the player discover the PC's past and gives the PC multiple pasts to discover. The player might therefore initially assume that the key to understanding the player is piecing together his memories -- but there are too many memories that are inconsistent, incapable of fitting together, to do that successfully. As a result, it's difficult to make sense of what the PC does in the present, given that he has multiple pasts which might or might not explain his actions, and the character splinters into several parts, Sybil-like. The command "think about" or "remember" gives the player access to the PC's past, which is handy -- but the significance of the events recalled is largely a matter of interpretation.

Aisle is an interesting idea that has its moments, and it's worth a look for anyone interested in the theory of IF. Its effectiveness depends on whether it makes an emotional impact, however, and without such an impact,it's a dreary experience at best.” Highly recommended, especially for the strong writing and unique premise. Anyone who wants another one-move game that is much more puzzle-intensive (and much better implemented) would be well advised to try Andrew Pontious’ Rematch.

Reviewed by: Underdogs
Designer: Sam Barlow
Developer: Freeware
Publisher: Freeware
Year: 1999
Software Copyright: Sam Barlow
Theme: Modern, Unique, Freelance
None that we know of
System Requirements: Inform
Where to get it:   IF Archive
Related Links:  
If you like this game, try: Rematch, Galatea, Little Blue Men

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