Out of the Study is an Alan 2 interactive fiction game and is © 2002 by Anssi Räisänen. At the 2002 XYZZY Awards, it was a finalist in the Best Puzzles category.
Review by David Welbourn
The comp gets off to a strong start with this one-room megapuzzle, where you must examine every object you can see, and examine every part of every object, and examine the parts of the parts until you feel like you're trapped in a room filled with Chinese nesting dolls. At first, this pleasantly reminded me of Metamorphoses, another game that also made liberal use of detail objects. But as play progresses, the sheer number of detail objects becomes daunting, since it seems there's little to do except find and examine them all. Including items that aren't mentioned at all, but must be inferred. Grr.
As it happens, you also must look under and look behind everything as well, otherwise you're certain to miss critical objects. It is truly unfortunate that the verb "search" wasn't implemented as a synonym for both actions. Without it, a search of the study is less likely to succeed, since you forget what you've looked under or looked behind, and as these actions usually give you no useful information, you tend to forget to try them on other objects.
The game doesn't always play fair, either. Besides the never-mentioned objects and the various red herrings in the room, there's one critical object that must be pulled, and there's no hint or suggestion that you ought to pull it, or even that you can pull it. In fact, the object itself is quite easy to miss, and I only found it by doing "take all". That strikes me as highly unfair.
Oh well. It's still a nice puzzle, even with its flaws. I especially liked how the family photo worked in — dare it say it — multiple levels. That was clever.