G.F.S. Sorceress (1980)   1 comment

G.F.S. SORCERESS is a science fiction adventure game which is actually the first part of the continuing saga of Joe Justin and Selena Sakarov aboard the Galactic Federation Starship Sorceress. In the game, you will take the part of Joe Justin as he attempts to clear himself of a false charge of mutiny. Be sure to read the short story which accompanies the game to get the flavor of this adventure, not to mention some useful clues!

As the game begins Lieutenant Joe Justin has just been convicted of mutiny and murder on the G.F.S. Rheingold, and summarily shoved out of the airlock. Equipped with only a standard-issue spacesuit, you, as Joe Justin, must find a way to return to earth with evidence that will unequivocally prove your innocence. To do this, you must first find and repair a starship, then explore strange new worlds.

— From the Instruction Manual for G.F.S. Sorceress

Gary Bedrosian (Lords of Karma, Empire of the Over-Mind) finished his adventure trilogy with G.F.S Sorceress.

I’ve saved this for last in my 1980 sequence because:

1.) I wanted to end with something I knew would be “substantial”; since Empire of the Over-Mind still remains one of the best games I’ve played in this project, I knew the follow-up would at least be interesting.

2.) The packaging came with “lore” including a short story and a “Naval Officer’s Manual” separate from the instructions, so I knew there would be lots of material to draw from.

3.) This is only sort-of a 1980 game; the author states it was written in 1980 and that’s what I’m using, but the opening title screen for the Apple II version I’m playing gives a copyright of 1981 and most physical copies out there give a copyright of 1982.

In general, I’ve been using date of writing rather than release — the Roger M. Wilcox games I just played, for instance, really only make sense in 1980, and some of the mainframe games like Haunt and Warp never had a “release” at all. Despite that, this feels like a game I can use to bridge the gap to 1981.

As the manual text implies, you start floating in space, but nearby a vessel. The vessel is itself stalled in space and appears to have suffered meteor attacks. I went to a hatch in the middle, used the airlock to go inside and …

… was reminded of the big problem with Empire of the Over-Mind, which is that there are no standard north/south/east/west directions and it makes the world confusing to visualize and map. I thought perhaps things would be better with this game — it even makes sense thematically to be lacking standard orientation in space — but this early room description with five different colors of hatches and three different colors of signs disabused me of the notion. I tried the red hatch first.

The text style somewhat buries the lede, and it took me a bit of processing before I noticed the “SPACE AMOEBOID”.

I’m going to have to get myself oriented, and probably study the external material (in Empire of the Over-Mind the poem that came with the game included essential information, basically the first Infocom-style feelie for an adventure game, and I expect this game to have similar circumstances).

Still, the production value is high and I expect good things — the manual lists six testers. Six! Most games from this era were lucky to get one.

Posted December 19, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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One response to “G.F.S. Sorceress (1980)

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  1. I’m excited about this! I had a bootleg copy of this game for Atari 800, circa 1985-86, and I had no idea what it even was until decades later. I had never read the background material, and I had no way to save games, so I never got all that far into playing it. But I remember it being pretty solid and fun!

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