IFDB page: Delusions
Final placement: 3rd place (of 26) in the 1996 Interactive Fiction Competition
Incredible game. Basically excellent in every respect — brilliant idea, (almost) flawlessly executed, great plot, well-thought-out puzzles. Just a gem in every respect. The only drawback (and I admit this is a quibble) is that the author’s notes tend to get a little irritating. The overall level of quality is stunningly high (though a bit depressing — after playing Delusions, I became certain that my entry was not going to win the competition.) The game was so good that it almost made me wonder if the anonymous author was a former Infocom implementor in disguise. I’m looking forward with great eagerness to completing the game (which I wasn’t able to get through in two hours)!
Prose: Infocom-level prose — not at classic literature level but more than sufficient to get one’s heart racing and chills mounting. The descriptions of virtual reality entrances and exits skirted the edge of histrionics but always came down on the right side. And the level of detail was a terrific kick — I especially loved the futuristic game of Jeopardy!.
Difficulty: I didn’t find the game terribly difficult, but found myself checking the hints quite a bit simply because I wanted to see as much of the game as I could in the two hours allotted. The excitement of seeing the second act unravel left me with little patience for struggling with puzzles. If I had not been in a time limit situation, I’m sure this would not have been true.
Technical (coding): One of the best coding jobs I’ve ever seen. The shifting responses to “examine” and the number of objects and possible combinations of those objects gave the world a stunningly rich level of verisimilitude.
Technical (writing): Basically flawless. I didn’t find one single grammar or spelling error.
Plot: First-rate. Extremely clever ideas masterfully revealed. The idea of Satan as a virus, the world as a VR construct, and God as a blind, black, bitter woman may be a little skewed theologically, but it made for totally engrossing IF. I look forward to the endgame with great anticipation.
Puzzles: I found Delusions to have exactly the right kind of puzzles for my taste in IF. Nothing arbitrary, nothing typical, and absolutely consistent with the described world and the advancing plot. The game proves that story-oriented IF does not have to be a cakewalk.
OVERALL — A 9.8