Suspended has unusual gameplay for interactive fiction. You could argue it's not really IF at all, but more of a set-piece strategy game. "You" are a stationary, cryogenically frozen human serving as a "CPU" in an underground computer complex, awakened when earthquakes have started to cause weather-control and other disasters that are killing the surface population. All your commands are directed to a fleet of six robots who act as your senses and hands. There are no points to be earned for solving puzzles. Rather, the "Score" reported in the status line is the number of casualties on the planet's surface, in thousands, since the previous cycle (turn); the SCORE command gives you the total since the beginning of the game. (Calling this scenario "a cryogenic nightmare", as the game's subtitle does, is a bit much if you ask me, unless the replays needed to optimize a solution are the nightmare!)
The robot that you are currently "cryolinked" to is displayed in the status line. Although you can move the robots one room at a time (Auda, north), you don't want to do that unless you really only need to move one location because leaving the other robots idle wastes precious cycles. To save moves, use go to [room] commands instead, freeing you to interact with other robots while that one travels. Don't bother spending time mapping the complex; the game package included a map with movable tokens for tracking the robots' locations. If you have lost track, you can ask any robot to report location, or just report, which sends back a fuller report of their location, their inventory, and whether they sense anything unusual about the location. The abbreviation ARR commands all the robots to report fully and ARL has them all report their locations (as seen at the start of the game: "All robots, report locations").
The functions of some of the robots may be a little obscure. You can get a clearer picture of how they each perceive their surroundings by gathering them in the same room and telling them each to look at the room or examine an object. These are their special features:
There are several timed events in the game (in normal mode):
The initial earthquake, as reported, has caused damage to the cables in the Primary and Secondary Channels that connect the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Filtering Computers. This is causing their management of the weather (and later hydroponics and transit) to go haywire. Fixing the FCs as fast as possible, to minimize deaths on the planet's surface, is the main objective of the game. ("Advanced" mode damages the transit and hydroponics early on as well as the weather, disables Whiz, and makes the humans arrive on cycle 80 instead of 100.)
Poet, go to Weather Control. Sensa, go to Sub Supply Room. Whiz, go to Secondary Channel. Sensa, take ramp. Go west. Take container and grasper. Go to Hallway Junction. Waldo, go to Hallway Junction. Auda, go to Gamma Repair. Poet, turn second dial to 100. Go to Hallway End. Iris, go to Main Supply. Sensa, put ramp at dropoff. Waldo, take container and grasper. Go to Main Supply. Install grasper. Take red IC and yellow IC. Sensa, north. Take ramp. Go to Small Supply. Waldo, open panel. Replace rough device with rough object. Close panel. Poet, get in car. Get out of car. Go to Biology Lab. Waldo, take burned and fried chip. Poet, take camera. Sensa, put ramp at holder. Get on ramp. Take cutter. Get off ramp. Take ramp. Go to Sloping Corridor. Poet, go to Vehicle Debarkation. Waldo, put red IC in red socket. Put yellow IC in yellow socket. Poet, get in car. Get out of car. Go to Primary Channel. Sensa, put ramp at dropoff. Go to Gamma Repair. Waldo, push button. Iris, take fuse. Waldo, take cable. Go to Secondary Channel. Wait. Sensa, examine object. Turn flowswitch. Both Sensa and Auda, move Fred. Sensa, cut cable with cutter. Poet, plug in camera. Point camera at sign. Sensa, take cable. Go to Primary Channel. Wait. Whiz, take fourteen-inch cable. Replace nine-inch cable with fourteen-inch cable. Wait. Wait. Sensa, replace four-inch cable with twelve-inch cable. Iris, put fuse in machine. Press [first access code] then press [second access code].
...Well, I told you it was short! Let's unpack what's going on in those commands:
It's important to get the weather under control as soon as possible, as casualties are already quickly mounting, so sending Poet off to Weather Control is the first order of business. Sensa picks up a ramp needed to cross between Hallway Junction and Sloping Corridor, where there is a step the robots can't traverse. You need to pre-position a robot in the Filtering Computer area before the acid leak so they can later be functional to perform the repairs. Whiz's special function of accessing the library is not otherwise needed if you aren't looking up any information, so you can maroon him over there for a while. Waldo's grasper, or micro extension, is the "small object [that] emits a weak signal specifically oriented toward Waldo" that Sensa described. The container, a wire basket, contains a variety of repair parts. Sensa and Waldo meet at a room halfway between them so Sensa can hand these off to Waldo. Entry Area to Gamma Repair is a long walk, so Auda needs to start soon.
The dials in Weather Control correspond to the three weather towers. (Monitors are in the Weather Monitors room where Iris is, although she can't read them yet because she can't see.) The first and third are holding to their setting of 55, but the Filtering Computers are messing around with the second tower and its pressure is dropping rapidly (as Iris can tell you if you repair her first and have her read the weather monitor). Turning this dial up will balance out the FCs' bad adjustment and buy you some time on the surface while you actually fix the FCs. Then Poet goes to the Biological Area, where there is a TV camera that can be used to show Iris faraway sights from areas of the complex she can't travel to.
Sensa places the needed ramp. When Waldo arrives at Hallway Junction, he takes the objects Sensa brought with her. Notice that he calls the grasper a "usable extension" -- he can install it on himself while he moves. The ICs are two of the objects in the container; Waldo can't see the colors, but the game knows that's what they are (try having Iris look at them after Waldo repairs her). Sensa goes just one room north to Sloping Corridor and then picks up the ramp behind her, because Auda has already passed by and Sensa will need the ramp as a stepstool in a little while. Waldo, meanwhile, has arrived in Main Supply where Iris is, so he can open her maintenance panel and replace the bad chip. Iris can now see.
Poet picks up the TV camera ("a device useful for gettng me to become a star") in the Biology Lab and then heads to the Primary Channel where it is needed. Waldo repairs the machine in Main Supply that can reset the Filtering Computers by putting new ICs in the sockets to replace the burned and fried ones. Sensa climbs up the ramp to reach the top of some shelves ("stable holder") where a wire cutter ("metal tool") is; then she must replace the ramp at the Sloping Corridor/Hallway Junction step (and leave it, this time) before going to join Auda in Gamma Repair.
Waldo opens the service panel on the reset machine, revealing a 14-inch orange cable and a fuse (the "small cylinder"). Iris removes the fuse so that Waldo can safely take the cable without being electrocuted, then he heads off to the Secondary Channel where it is needed. Sensa, meanwhile, has arrived in Gamma Repair. If you have her look at the room, she describes "a large object emits strange flows ... the circuitry is concentrated near the center of one side." This is a cabinet and the flowswitch opens it; only Sensa can see when the polarity of the electrical plates is properly aligned to unlock it. The device inside with "miles of circuitry" is the seventh robot mentioned in the game docs. He's large enough that it requires two robots to move him, then Sensa cuts a needed wire out of him.
Meanwhile, poor Poet has passed through the acid on his way to the Primary Channel, but there he can plug in the camera, which sends the image back to Iris ("Receiving transmissions"), who can now read the access codes on the sign (some combination of foo , bar, boz, mum, ble, kla, con, tra). Sensa takes the cable she just cut from Fred and heads to Primary Channel where it is needed. Waldo just makes it to the Secondary Channel before he also collapses from acid damage. Whiz uses the cable he was carrying to fix the connection from Beta to Gamma FC, and Sensa repairs the Alpha-Beta FC connection, before also succumbing to the acid. The three FCs report balance being restored. Now you can have Iris reactivate the reset machine with its fuse and input the access codes. Only (!) 8,000 people are dead and you have succeeded in your task!
(to be written)
For Your Amusement:
On the first turn of the game, type impossible to switch to Impossible mode, then play normally.
Have each of the robots open the door in the Central Chamber (i.e., the door to your cryo-capsule). (save first)
Have Waldo and Poet each move the broken shelf in Sub Supply, open the smashed box, then examine the ruined backup cable.
After the acid leak occurs, have Poet look in the Cavernous room.
Have Poet look while he's in the same room as Fred. (So instructed in the Invisiclues, but I don't find anything particularly funny about the fact that Poet refers to the broken robot as FRED in all capital letters whereas the other robots use terms like "broken device". However, in the source code, all the robots except Iris have a message defined that is meant to be used if they are the one that "reveals" Fred. Only Sensa's is ever seen because she is the only one who can open the cabinet. Poet's unused message might be what this prompt was getting at: "There once was a robot named Fred, / Who never conceived being dead. / But late in the night, / A terrible fright / Left him clearly without his own head.")
Have Poet look in Transit Control.
Set any two of the levers in the Hydroponics Control Area to zero. (save first) (Sooo... why is this situation so immediately "unsalvageable" that it's game over? Even assuming the planet has no stored food at all, it should take at least a couple of weeks for people to starve unless they are already on the brink of death!)
Have all the robots read the plaque in the Sterilization Chamber. (The plaque is takeable, so you can bring it to Iris.)
Have all the robots examine the humans. (I'm not sure this is possible for Iris, since if they enter the Central Chamber that is the furthest extent of her movement, it's already game over, and the TV camera can't be plugged in anywhere other than the Primary or Secondary Channels, where they don't go. Her response in the source code is "They're very good looking.")
Attack the humans with the wire cutter. (save first)
Strand the humans in Hallway End, then have Auda hang around with them and listen while they wait for the car.
When the humans fix the acid leak, have Auda go to the Activities Area and wait for them to arrive. (If you used Auda to steal the bag, send her back to Activities on the very first turn after "I hear footsteps as the talking mechanisms walk away." She won't make it to Activities before they do, but she can hear the dialogue in question from the Sleep Chamber.)
Have all the robots examine each other. (More interesting than amusing in some cases, perhaps, but Poet especially has some amusing things to say.)
Ask Iris, Waldo, Poet, and Whiz to kiss another robot.
Repeatedly ask each of the robots to do something they can't do, like jump.
Ask each of the robots to eat something.
Ask each of the robots to yell.
Type go to hell.
Objects you can ask the CLC Peripherals about
Advisory, Historical, and Technical: column, car, groove (the channels or tracks holding the cables in the Primary and Secondary Channels), first/second/third switches (the Transit Control switches), machine (the FC reset machine in Main Supply), Contra, FCs, cables, each robot by name
Advisory and Technical: panel (Iris's repair panel), walkway (the moving belt in Alpha/Beta/Gamma repair), tool (the wire cutters), cage (the cabinet in Gamma Repair), first/second/third dials (the Weather Control dials), camera, button (the orange button on the reset machine), sign (the signs in the Primary or Secondary Channels)
Advisory only: Wedge/ramp, grasper
Historical only: beds (in the Sleep Chamber), complex, Franklin or Gregory, clones
Technical only: blue/rough chip (CX1, Iris's faulty chip), burned chip (CX3), fried chip (CX4), red/smooth IC (RX0), yellow/bumpy IC (RX2), green/wavy IC (RX3), plaid/pebbled IC (RX4), wheel (the wheel in Maintenance Access), first/second/third levers (in Hydroponics Control), levers (also collectively, for some reason), red/yellow sockets
For further entertainment, you may be interested in:
Lists of bugs in Suspended: Nathan Simpson , Graeme Cree , XyzzyNews
Posts about this game at The Digital Antiquarian , The Adventure Gamer , and SPAG
Last updated: 4/28/2021