IFMud 2020: The Eleusinean Miseries

P. G. Wodehouse, for all his obvious tics, is not an easy writer to imitate at length. His panache-per-word ratio is almost impossible for anyone else to sustain for more than a sprint. Slapstick is difficult to do well in prose at all, let alone in prose broken up with momentum-killing command prompts. So I think it’s worth commending this piece for pulling off both of these things as well as it does. Possibly they complement each other, the digressive and indirect prose preventing the slapstick from being too in-your-face, getting the reader’s imagination involved.

And all that’s combined with an incongruous but oddly appropriate setting: Greece during the Peloponnesian War. The war is mentioned occasionally, but it barely touches the story’s featherbrained aristocrats, who treat initiation into “that Mysteries wheeze” like a night at the Drones Club. But apparently the story is largely based on historical fact, including some of the sillier bits, and will probably be particularly amusing to players who recognize the events alluded to.

The story consists of several discrete sections, each with its own goal and puzzles, with some objects and geography shared between the second and third parts. The puzzle style strikes me as particularly Infocom-like, in some hard-to-define way. Maybe it’s the specific depth of implementation, with multi-step solutions that involve things like showing some food to a pig so it’ll follow you to a different location. Or maybe it just stands out because I haven’t seen a lot of puzzle-based adventure games in this Comp. Some of the puzzles support multiple solutions, too, which I’d applaud in many games, but here, it struck me as inelegant when I left some obvious puzzle-fodder unused.

At any rate, it’s both solid and quirky, and thus will probably rank well, if I know the Comp judges.

No Comments

Leave a reply