There are surprisingly few spy-themed interactive fiction games. The most familiar subgenre of that kind of theme is the Bond-style spy thriller, which has almost become a parody of itself through media like the Austin Powers series of movies and the “Archer” television show. “Jon Doe – Wildcard Nucleus” is still fundamentally that type of work, but it’s more of a pastiche than an overt farce.

Gameplay: The game begins with the tradition Bond movie pre-credit sequence, written in screenplay format. After that, it settles into a standard puzzle-based adventure game format, hitting the beats of a Bond movie: the initial mission briefing, the meeting with the equivalent of Q, the first meeting with the villain, rescuing the Bond girl, etc. Some of the scenes are taken less seriously than others, but the game is a coherent whole rather than just being a series of parodical scenes. 6/10.

Mechanics: None of the puzzles are particularly involved, and their solutions are generally well-clued. Even though some of them are standard inventory- and set-piece puzzles, they largely fit in with the theme and have some underlying motivation to them. The obligatory Bond tech gadget, for example, is useful in dealing with multiple obstacles throughout the game; on the other hand, the puzzle of finding the password to a computer system would be a better fit for a generic puzzle game than one with this strong of a theme. There wasn’t any puzzle I found particularly memorable or clever, but I also didn’t find any that were egregiously broken. 6/10.

Presentation: There are numerous instances of odd word choices (or translation errors )in the game: some sort of art scultpure referred as “a modern plastic” (with the descrption, “The plastic is made of steel…”), an NPC granting the protagonist’s request with, “Okay, but only exceptionally,” and so on. There are also some guess-the-verb or -noun difficulties, such as SHOOT not being recognized and the protagonist’s weapon only recognized as a PISTOL rather than a GUN. Aside from those issues, the text established the setting but wasn’t particularly evocative otherwise. 4/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You like Bond parodies but want one that isn’t a slapstick farce.

Score: 5

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