IFComp 2012: In a Manor of Speaking

Spoilers follow the break.

Now here’s a jolly one. You can tell it’s going to be jolly from the very first sentence, which is “Wumpity, wumpity, wumpity.” Later, the villain is described as “that abhorrent chowderhead”. It’s vivaciously written, terse but playful. And the prose is matched by the content and structure: this is the first disjointed eclectic puzzle environment I’ve seen so far in this Comp, and most of its puzzles involve puns and wordplay of various sorts. And I’m eating it up. There’s been a glut of grimness in the other games I’ve played so far, so the whimsy here comes as a welcome respite.

Sometimes I think we’re too ready to call specific adventure games “old-school”, but this one really earns it. It isn’t just that the whole plot and environment is just an excuse for puns and puzzles. It also has the whole one-use-per-inventory-item thing going on — any puzzle that isn’t just a straight application of wordplay involves fetching an object from elsewhere and applying it in the correct way, which uses it up. Also, it has numerous unpredictable one-move deaths, which you just UNDO away. It even has a per-room hint system, Scott-Adams-style. I don’t know who wrote this game — it was submitted to the Comp under the pseudonym “Hulk Handsome” (or at least I hope that’s a pseudonym) — but it’s clearly someone who loved the text adventures of old and wanted to recapture something about them. I loved them too. This is not a deep game, or a long one, but it is a fun one.

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