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About the Story
After last night's all-nighter (I had an important report to do for work), I intended to sleep all through the day. But I can't afford to do that. Somewhere out there, my evil twin is plying his schemes, and I'm the only one who can stop him.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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This was a fun, polished, little game. I really would give it a 3.5/5 or perhaps a bit lower, but figured I'd round up rather than down. It's composed of some rather easy puzzles (except one; see below) but most of the enjoyment came from exploring the narrator's little world(s).
There weren't any technical bugs that I came across except that it's possible to get to the end-game without actually haven't accomplished what the end-game says you've accomplished. (Spoiler - click to show)Namely, I ignored the mind-control device in favor of breaking into my evil twin's lair... I ended up in a jail cell, only able to guess at what I'd done to get there! It's worth the time it takes to play, though it's not likely to have a huge effect on you. Fun, but not difficult or deep.
If you're not super-knowlegable about the band (or you are but you're not much of a mind-reader) and you get stuck (Spoiler - click to show)at your evil twin's bookshelf, you might need to go here.
This game is sort of like a Speed IF game (although a pretty well implemented one) in its simplicity and commitment to its gimmick. Playtime is short when measured in the minimum amount of turns it takes to win, but winning for me took a lot longer, mostly because I'm not a good puzzle solver and the game didn't have a walkthrough, but also because certain parts of the game feel underclued.
The game starts out as a quest to foil the schemes of your evil twin brother. It sounds simple enough, although people familiar with the song will be conditioned to see something's fishy, and even the players who haven't heard of They Might Be Giants before will probably suspect something is up even before they reach (Spoiler - click to show)the Magical Realism tunnel. But to the game's credit, it never comes straight out and tells you what's going on, preferring to let you put the pieces together yourself. For most part that works out fine, although the ending may leave you, as it did me, scratching your head a bit.
The puzzles (what little there were of them, anyway) were fine... up to a point. I'm not too good a judge of puzzles, since I'm so lousy at them, but most of them seemed to be fair and made sense within the logic of the world. And I think the solution for getting into your evil twin's house should be commended for being both super dumb and logical. But on the other hand (warning, spoilers for the final puzzle follow): (Spoiler - click to show)how you find out the code to the evil twin's secret lair is unfair. It involves knowing the old number to They Might Be Giants' Dial-a-Song. This in-and-of-itself isn't what I object to (after all, in the age of the Wiki this isn't a very frustrating puzzle element); it's more that the fact that the code is the old Dial-a-Song number is heavily underclued, especially if you're not up on your They Might Be Giants lore (I wasn't). The problem was, I didn't know that the code was something I would have to look up, and since I didn't know that, I kept looking for the rest of the code in the game itself. If the game had signaled better that the solution was outside the game-world, if there was a bigger hint that the code was connected to Dial-a-Song somehow, then the puzzle would have seemed much more fair.
While we're on the subject on stuff that flew over my head, I'm still not sure how to interpret the ending. (Spoiler - click to show)For most of the game, I assumed that most, if not all, of the damage around town had been done by the player character during his ridiculous charades of "stopping" his evil twin. I also assumed that there was no evil twin, that what we were seeing was just the delusions of a weird, weird man. But in the end scene at the jail, our evil twin really does show up. Or is he really our "evil" twin? And if he was, what was up with the rest of the game, then? Was it real? Quasi-real? Am I over-thinking this?
But really, for me, the joy of My Evil Twin wasn't in its puzzles or its destination. It was just hanging out and exploring in an off-kilter world, one that lies just slightly askance to ours, but also one that operates by its own rules. It's an old-school type of setting, one you don't get to see too often. And if the experience sometimes frustrated me, well, that's part of the old-school feel as well.
This game is in a style that I usually really enjoy, and I thought the main puzzle mechanic was really neat, but for some reason I started to find it kind of a chore after a while. Aside from one or two fairly ingenious ones (particularly (Spoiler - click to show)getting into your twin's apartment), the puzzles tended to require something like extensive brute force, and unfortunately, as a result of how the puzzle mechanic works, brute forcing things becomes very time-consuming (a silly cheat code can speed things up a little, but you're still just trying the same operation on a bunch of objects and trying to do random things to them to get things to progress).
Again apart from one good one, the puzzles are all totally unmotivated object manipulation, and the plot just progresses seemingly randomly whenever you complete one of them. After a while it was pretty dispiriting and I just read the second half of the ClubFloyd transcript rather than go through the motions of finishing the thing myself. (I had to resort to this "walkthrough" relatively early, because in my infinite ingenuity I (Spoiler - click to show)pushed the dummy all the way into my apartment before ever setting foot in the neighbor's yard, thereby making it virtually impossible for me to discover the game's central mechanic. This is not the author's fault, since I did something really weird for no reason after cluelessly missing a room that most people probably discover right away. Still, once I had the "walkthrough" I felt somewhat less motivated to complete the game.)
I am still giving this game three stars, however, because in the end there are a lot of things I like about it: The central mechanic, although it was mainly used in service of tedious puzzles, was a joy in itself and pretty fun to play around with for a while. One of the puzzles was very thematic and clever, and funny, a rare combination in any game. And the extensive janus-face symbolism in the first room -- (Spoiler - click to show)Benjamin Harrison and Nostradamus as metaphysical, liminal figures, the past and the future, the two Clevelands, the two Johns on the poster, playing hangman with yourself -- was the most fun I've had examining scenery in forever.
The writing was very shrewd and funny. The ending was thought-provoking and the whole thing had a kind of surreal, Veeder-esque tinge. It's a pity that large parts of it weren't that fun to play.
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