Faithful JIG readers, I need your help. I'm being driven mad, you see. Utterly batty. This innocent-looking, seemingly simple little piece of interactive fiction has destroyed me and is now taunting my broken, weeping form. So many clues! So much information! Argh!
We have recently featured a number of pieces of ifiction, but Final Selection, created by Sam Gordon, is undoubtedly the most wicked to date (except perhaps Anchorhead, but that's another story...). The premise is quite simple: you are the prime candidate for the position of Director of the Museum and Institute for Puzzles and Problem Solving. If you secure the job you will enjoy a life (and sizable budget) devoted to the unraveling of enigmas and solving of conundrums.
There is, however, one final test: in order to prove your aptitude in this field, you must solve one "simple" puzzle yourself. To do so you must explore a single room, gathering clues and solving puzzles, until you finally reach the unknown problem's answer. Upon doing so, you ring a bell; the current Director will come in and ask you a question. If you answer correctly, the position is yours; if not, too bad, chump!
This game is a toughie. Actually finding clues is not a problem. Quite the opposite, in fact; the room is brimming with enigmatic pieces of paper, puzzles to be solved, items to be collected. And, of course, the game reminds you that some seeming "clues" are in fact red herrings. It's very easy to become overwhelmed. And, unlike many other pieces of IF, there is no handy-dandy hint system to keep the player on the right track.
Happily, in addition to being overwhelming, Final Selection is also extremely entertaining. I love the premise, love the setting, and am hopelessly addicted. The game is extremely clever and well designed; in fact, it won the L'avventura è l'avventura One Room Game Competition in 2006. It also isn't entirely unforgiving, as it provides an extremely convenient note-taking system that keeps track of all of the clues the player has collected.
If you generally like the IF genre, you will probably have a lot of fun with Final Selection. I know that, despite being stymied, I certainly have. So, faithful JIG readers, save me! Rescue me from the depths of my puzzle-induced despair. And, of course, enjoy playing this great and headache-inducing gem.
You know you want the job:
The links above point to JIG's internally developed Flash-based Z-Machine interpreter (thanks asterick!), with the story files hosted here. That means you can now play these games in your browser rather than having to download and run the game in a standalone interpreter.
If you would rather download the game, you may do so at the Interactive Fiction Database. If you choose to download the game, you will need an interpreter to read the z-file, just like most IF games: try Gargoyle for Windows, or Zoom or Splatterlight for Macintosh and Unix.
If you like "Final Selection," take a look at other Interactive Fiction we have reviewed here at JIG.