The CSSCGC tends to attract two types of games: crap games, and triumphs of innovation (like Chromatrons Attack or LD-Snake). A good balance of both makes the competition exciting – at once, we can both guffaw at the awfulness of a slapdash BASIC “game” and marvel at the technical wizardry of a clever machine code concoction. Gareth Pitchford, esteemed text adventure author, sends us a game in the latter category; a text adventure entitled Mirror Mirror. There are no dazzling technical feats, but there are some brilliant innovations in the gameplay department.
This game was first sent to me on the 7th of April. However, a few hours later, Gareth seemed to have been unable to shake his professionalism, as he sent me a new version which had been play-tested (tut-tut) and had typos corrected. The cheek of him!
The game starts with us being placed in a locked room, with only a mirror. From here, we can touch the mirror and enter a reversed version of the room, complete with reversed text. Solving the puzzles and eventually escaping relies on manoeuvring between the two rooms via the mirror and transporting key objects to and fro. I don’t want to say anything more so as not to spoil it, as it really is an excellent text adventure.
The key gimmick in this game is the text reversing in the mirrored room. All of the description is written backwards with a backwards typeface, and even your commands have to be entered in reverse. This was a particularly irritating aspect in my view, as I haven’t the mental capacity to mirror words at length (surprisingly, I’ve never had to do so before), so I found myself having to write them down on paper first. As a tip for those in a similar position, keep in mind that PAW discards all but the first five letters of each word when parsing the input line, so you can save yourself lots of hard work by not entering each phrase in full (unfortunately, I only figured this out after having won). However, this minor snag unfortunately does not sully the game enough to make it crap.
With regards to the puzzles, they are decent for a game as small as this, and don’t rely on any obtuse logic or reasoning as some adventures tend to. As far as I am aware, you can’t die either, which makes the experience much smoother. If you mess up something in one room, touch the mirror and it will be repaired in the reversed room! The input parser is quite flexible also, and I didn’t encounter any cases of guess-the-verb, which further added to my enjoyment of the game.
Overall, Mirror Mirror is a fine little adventure game which is absolutely enthralling and is just the right length. My mirror-mirror on the wall tells me that, so far, this entry is the best game of all (although that’s likely because I’m looking at myself in the mirror saying that). The only thing at which Mr Pitchford has failed is actually writing a crap game, but that can be excused when the result is a cool little novelty. I thoroughly recommend that you play it yourself, either by downloading it from our site or using the “play online” feature.