Review by Orb
The Stone is a anomaly as far as games go, and a very
intriguing one at that. The game is purchased in the usual game
box, but this is where the similarity to other games ends. Inside
the box the player finds a necklace, which is a stone with strange
symbols printed on it, and two small booklets, one a getting-started
guide to accessing the game, the other an unusual document that
gives the player a peek into the creator's mindset and the world
of The Stone. Oh yeah, and it gives the access code to
The Stone is an online game, accessed via the stone necklace
and entry code that came in the package. Once signed up, the player
is allowed into the community of The Stone. The site itself
is darkly, elegantly designed. There is much to explore and see,
in addition to the overall game.
Upon clicking the button for the main gaming area, called "The
Immediate," the player is taken to her own personal screen
showing a large geometric grid with white dots in the center of
many of the sections. Each dot signifies a new puzzle, and once
a puzzle is successfully completed the dot turns grey, so the
player can track her progress at a glance. The player is given
an allotment of white dotsonce these are all changed to
grey, more are given.
Puzzles are plentiful, and plenty hard. A riddle or some sort
of conundrum is presented on each screen. Most are just images,
some with words and some without. Some have an accompanying question,
but all have a small box underneath for the player to submit her
answer. These are absolutely not easy puzzles, and they require
a tremendous amount of study and brainpower. Some require that
the solution be found by studying the subject through searches
on the net. The answers, we found, were often hidden in other
websites, and these would have to be investigated to solve the
However this sounds, the riddles are far from boring, and the
discovery of an answer to them becomes a sort of quest. I felt
an ever-increasing degree of amazement at just how the designers
put them together and combined the elements of a hunt for the
answer with the images on each puzzle page. Each puzzle screen
also has a link for clues, which are almost always needed and
provide much fodder in the hunt for the answer.
As far as the graphics go, the screens for each puzzle are quite
beautifully drawn. The graphics are on an equal par with the rest
of the design of the site. As the graphics are the puzzles themselves,
they are to be pored over and studied, and it is very apparent
that an incredible amount of work has been put into each.
The riddles are best solved by working with one or more other
people. The most success I found came with combining the mental
acumen of two or more people with the puzzles. Even so, the puzzles
take a considerable amount of time to work out, and as they are
completed there's a fair amount of pride at filling up the personal
game screen with the grey colored dots signifying completed puzzles.
The site also has a series of puzzles made by other players that
can be played, and this area is called "The Movement."
In this area, the player is treated to another new grid, this
one a concentric circle with the same system of white and grey
dots. There is also a section of the game to "find your Other,"
which in layman's terms is the guy that has the same necklace
symbols that you have. My necklace mate has apparently not checked
in, but I remain hopeful, just so's I can see what other things
the site offers for a pair of necklace holders, rather than just
the lone player.
Another fascinating aspect to the design is the area called "Buried
Clues." This is a real-world game where game items have been
buried in real cities, and players must work together, sometimes
in the real world, to accomplish finding these, if their Stone
addiction carries them this far.
Finally, The Stone website offers a community area where
players can talk to each other in a forum setting. There usually
are seasoned players around to answer questions and give others
helpful nudges. You will never find any outright solutions here,
however, as the spoiler is a community no-no, and players demand
that each strives to find her own answers. This area offers many
forums, all covering various aspects of the games. The most amazing
thing about this is it is an absolutely busy, teeming community
all of whom are very much into The Stone as a pastime.
The Stone provides real bang for the buck, allowing the
player to do many things that a conventional computer game does
not always provide, a community of people all playing the same
game, a chance for one to devise her own puzzle to stump others,
an online "buddy" to find, puzzles that take one across
the Internet in search of clues and an answer, and a real-life
treasure hunt. It's pretty much up to the player just how much
or how little of this she wants to enjoy and partake in. But at
the very least, if you enjoy anything cerebral, get it for the
puzzles and play it with some friends and/or familyyou'll
have a blast.
(You can find some free sample puzzles on The
Developer: Abject Modernity Internet Creations Inc.
Publisher: Abject Modernity Internet Creations Inc.
Release Date: 1999
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