The Crocodile Who Would Be King

by Chandler Groover profile and Failbetter Games

Episode 79 of Fallen London Exceptional Stories

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Find a crocodile under the sewers and perform an amazing magic trick., December 11, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

It's nice to see Chandler Groover experimenting with the Fallen London format. He is known for his Exceptional Stories, and has a very loyal fan base on the Discord, with people saying things like this:

"I'd go as far as to say that groover is the only writer who consistently captures the mystery and beauty of the setting"

"Iím trying to find what Iím thinking of, but my suggestion is really based on the quality of grooverí s writing and also the focus on the everyday person that reveals some deeper truth about the universe"

"Chandler Groover, author of several fan favourite Exceptional Stories, typically agreed to Never Miss"

With that kind of praise, there's a lot of pressure, and it would be easy to fall into repetitive patterns. But I found this story to be pretty different than his others, so much so that I had no idea it was him until the end.

In this story, a magician's assistant is missing, a crocodile is loose in the sewers of London and you must stop it! This includes a sizable segment that is a complex maze, something I never thought I'd see in any Groover story ever, and especially not in Fallen London, a text-based narrative that tends to gloss over movement. This story also has puzzles involving large machines with moving parts.

During your journey, your goals shift, and you end up acquiring a large amount of materials (through the sewers) for a big project. This was a fun excursion, because it lets you see many of the more mundane or boring parts of Fallen London (like the shops in the Bazaar tab) through a fresh perspective as you tunnel into them from below, often finding bizarre leftovers from previous times or hidden-away secrets. The scenes in Mahogany Hall were really effective for me.

The story gets even more strange in the end, becoming almost mythological and filled with guts and animals. It all feels large and epic, but I didn't quite grasp it all. I think that's good, though; I wouldn't want to grasp all of it.

To be honest, the maze didn't really work for me completely, but I enjoy the innovation and would rather see further experimentation like this than a retread of old things. Definitely a memorable story.

As a side note, parts of this gave me flashbacks to All Dogs Go to Heaven, where the sewer crocodile horrified me as a child.