Custard & Mustard's Big Adventure

by Christopher Merriner profile

2022

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Number of Reviews: 5
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Off the Leash, April 27, 2022
by J. J. Guest (London, England)

This is one of the best Adventuron games I've played, from the author of last year's The Faeries of Haelstowne, which I also enjoyed. The first thing that struck me was the writing, which has the charming, well-mannered humour of British children's classics such as the Paddington Bear and Professor Branestawm books. It feels like it belongs to an earlier, simpler era, without the snark and endless pop culture references that characterise a lot of modern comedy. I'm not sure if the game was written with children in mind, but it's one I wouldn't hesitate to play with my young nephews, and I'm sure they'd enjoy it. That said, I don't think they'd solve it alone.

The game has a large map, and the central conceit is that you're playing two characters you can switch between. The two dogs have slightly different abilities and some tasks can only be completed by both dogs acting together. I was reminded a little of the old ZX Spectrum arcade adventure Head Over Heels. The pair get themselves into lots of amusing situations, but much of the comedy comes from the dog's-eye view of humans going about their daily lives. It is wry and very well-observed.

There are a lot of puzzles, some of which are very clever, such as (Spoiler - click to show)untangling Custard from the lamp post. Others are rather less than intuitive, and I often found myself turning to the excellent hint system. It's not always obvious what you're supposed to be doing, and I sometimes had to use the hints to give me a push in the right direction. Often the thing I was supposed to be doing was something I'd never have thought of, since it had no obvious connection to the main objective. In more than one way, the game reminded me of Untitled Goose Game, which has a checklist of things the goose (or geese) can try, and I came to rely on the hint system in much the same way, using it to steer me through the game. I don't think I'd have solved it otherwise. Once I'd accepted the necessity of using the hints, it didn't spoil my enjoyment a bit.

Implementation is very smooth and I encountered very few problems with my playthrough. It felt as though the author had provided plenty of synonyms and that the game had been thoroughly beta-tested. The Adventuron style of clearing the screen every time you move to a new room was a bit of a nuisance, because I couldn't scroll back and refer to past events, but it never became a major issue. If I had one, minor gripe with the game as a whole, it would be that (Spoiler - click to show)the river is too wide, crossing it became a bit tedious especially since I had to make several trips.

Despite these criticisms, Custard & Mustard's Big Adventure is beautifully written, very funny and a lot of fun to play. The highest compliment I can pay this game is that I didn't want to stop playing. I kept coming back to it even when I had much more urgent things to do. Highly recommended.