Little Girl In Monsterland

by Mike Stallone

Comedy, fantasy, point and click, open world
2020

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Number of Reviews: 6
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
New approaches to wild ideas, December 1, 2020

Little Girl in Monsterland is a choice-based comedy by Mike Stallone. It takes an interesting approach to solving the Gabriel Knight problem: how can adventure games develop new puzzles? Game designers have endured a lot of public ridicule for presenting bizarre solutions to very old problems, like putting arbitrary obstacles in front of a player who just needs to find a key.

This entry approached its puzzle design challenges from the opposite direction. The player sets the goals to accomplish, and the characters manipulate objects to remove obstacles.

These game mechanics elegantly sidestep a lot of parser problems, and they avoid some of the interface problems that can trip up point-and-click games. The player and the narrator agree on what should happen next, and then the characters act it out in the game. When it worked, it felt like collaborative storytelling.

At other times, I struggled to figure out what I should be doing. There are some obvious red herrings that are only there to add some variety, but in many places the correct choice was just as absurd as the alternatives.

Overall, this entry is full of wild ideas. Its comic tone matches its six-year-old protagonists (although it contained an unexpectedly large amount of poop jokes, even for a juvenile comedy) and their journey involves mermaids, werewolves, vampires, and unpaid electric bills.

At some points, the comic tone made it difficult for me to follow the plot. I couldn't always tell when characters were supposed to see through transparent lies, or when I was supposed to ignore contradictions that had merely been introduced for a quick laugh.

Some of my confusion may have been due to a lack of imagination on my part. When I did stumble through the correct sequence of motives, it made sense within the world of the game.

Overall, Little Girl in Monsterland is a big, ambitious entry, and I appreciate the amount of work that went into it. This game does a lot of things well, and it offers some ideas for improving adventure games.