Cyborg [game]

Tagged: Game

Videogame (1981). Sentient Software. Designed by Michael Berlyn. Platforms: AppleII (1981); Atari8, C64 (1982).

While Cyborg was not the first science-fictional text Adventure, it may be the first such work of any lasting interest. As in Algis Budrys' rather more sophisticated novel Who? (April 1955 Fantastic Universe; exp 1958), the central character is a prosthetically augmented human of uncertain Identity, in this case an astronaut who is suffering from Amnesia and is thus ignorant of the nature of their mission. This setup is used to cleverly rationalize the structure of the text Adventure form; the conversational nature of the game's interface is justified as representing the way in which the player – who takes the role of the protagonist's human part – must issue commands to their cybernetic half in order to act on the external world. Initially, the protagonist is trapped in a bizarre forest, but it can be discovered that this is a holographic illusion projected by Alien Technology. It then emerges that the player's character is the captain of a Starship which has collided with an alien exploration vessel in the Tau Ceti system. Eventually, the player can determine the tasks they need to perform: repairing the ship and reanimating its passengers – who were placed in Suspended Animation to improve their chances of surviving the impact – after which the ship can be landed, beginning the colonization of a new Earth. Puzzles are rare in comparison to most contemporary Adventures, their place being taken by the detailed embedded backstory (see Interactive Narrative). While the narrative is perhaps best described as competent by the standards of print sf, it is unusually strong in comparison to such fantasy games as Adventureland (1978) or Acheton (1978-1981), making this an early example of a "story driven" Adventure. [NT]

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