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Puddles on the Path, by Anssi Räisänen
It's the journey that matters. Are we on the same page?, September 5, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: Spring Thing

Anssi Räisänen's games together really mark out a lot of territory. No one is particularly big, but they range from fantasy to realism, and they all have that very classic feel to them without flaunting their old-school credentials too intimidatingly. Puddles on the Path is distinctive among his works for the mechanic to solve major puzzles: many powerful spells are, in fact, common sayings. It's always good to breathe new life (ahem) into cliches, and this brief romp does that.

It's just good fun, as Anssi's works tend to be. You're a wizard's apprentice who can't help but be curious--you find a golden egg and try to get it, guards capture you, and then you must escape. Even though it's a null-sum game in this respect it's a lot of fun to find a magic sword and so forth and actually use the spells. Yes, I enjoy the odd syntax of ancient tongues, but it's also nice to breathe life into more well-worn words.

The game ended a bit soon for me, as I'd sort of hoped to use more than half of the proverbs you had in your spellbook to start. That would leave the door open for a sequel, much like Anssi wrote Ted Strikes Back in 2017 to extend his Ted Paladin game from IFComp 2011, which was the first of his works I tried. I remember hoping for a sequel to the original Ted Paladin game, but I didn't realize Anssi had sort of written one. Given it's 2023 and there was, alas, no Ted Paladin sequel within six years this time, it was neat to uncover Puddles on the Path.

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