Counterfeit Monkey

by Emily Short profile

Espionage
2012

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Number of Ratings: 180
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- josephine17, April 25, 2022

- Second Lemming, March 15, 2022

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A masterclass in innovative game design, March 5, 2022

There's not much I can say about this masterpiece that hasn't already been said, but I'll give it a go anyway!

I think the most impressive feature of this game is the combination of wild, extravagant possibility with tight focus. Once you get the hang of your letter-remover, the range of possibilities seems almost paralysing in its scope: you can turn the objects around you into completely different objects with a flick of the wrist. A single item can yield all kinds of wildly different new items depending on which letter you remove, and these in their turn can do the same thing. More possibilities open up as you gain access to more word-manipulation tools - the anagram gun, in particular, is a dizzyingly powerful piece of kit that, once you get it running, makes you feel well-nigh omnipotent. All of the comments about the sheer scale of the task the author must have faced in coding all of these possibilities are, if anything, understated.

And yet at the same time it all works, because the game's scope never gets too out of control. For example, restricting the main mechanic to removing letters (and not adding them, except for one limited tool) means that any given object can only yield a limited number of new objects. Judicious use of adjectives in object names means that many cannot be manipulated at all, or only in fairly limited ways. Even the mighty anagram gun can only turn most objects into one other object, and most of those are useless if hilarious. I think this is the true achievement of this game - to create a world of apparently infinite possibility, that nevertheless limits that possibility without ever feeling restrictive. Enough range of possibility remains to allow the player freedom to try all kinds of things which don't help advance the game at all but are still possible. Here a shout-out has to go to the Britishizing Goggles, which are much appreciated if completely useless, and must have been another headache to implement. (Though they're not infallible e.g. "rigourous" is not correct British English, sad to say.)

This is one of the few puzzle-based games that I managed to complete entirely on my own, though some sections gave me lengthy pause for thought. It's all logical, and while "guess the verb" is effectively replaced by "guess the noun", you at least have all those possible nouns in front of you, in theory. On some occasions the gameplay slows as you read repeatedly through your entire inventory, trying to work out which word, with a letter removed, might produce something useful - and the game's adherence to the modern convention that it's possible to carry in your arms literally everything that's not nailed down means this can be a time-consuming process. More often than not, though, the relevant object is fairly easy to identify. One point to bear in mind is that everything you need to solve a puzzle is always available in locations you can travel to from that puzzle point, something that in the later stages of the game means you can discount much of your swollen inventory when trying to work out what to do.

The parser is very friendly, allowing you to take back game-losing moves. Conversations are rather mechanical, but as we all know, conversations are impossible to implement well in IF. The parser does suffer from frustrating limits in the underlying engine - e.g. it cannot handle "Put X and Y on the Z", requiring instead "Put X on the Z" followed by "Put Y on the Z", even though there are a number of times when you do have to put two things onto or into something.

Most importantly though, this game is just absurdly fun to play. The fact that something like this is free when it outclasses on every level the classic Infocom-era games - that we had to buy with actual money, from actual shops - is something to be profoundly grateful for.

I must add that it's thanks to this game that I discovered Toki Pona, which I'm going to investigate in more detail. Oh, and finally, playing this game late at night leads to very strange dreams.

[EDIT] tenpo ni la, mi sona e toki pona. jan Emili o, pona!


- cgasquid (west of house), January 31, 2022

- Titania Lowe, January 24, 2022

- NotATomato123, January 17, 2022

- Cryptic Puffin, December 23, 2021

- morat, December 7, 2021

- feamir, November 30, 2021

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent! , November 29, 2021

Really impressive display of talent and creativity. loved the multiple solutions to puzzles and kept you engaged from start to finish!


- Jade68, November 27, 2021

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Clever Use of the Medium, November 18, 2021

This is my favorite IF of all time.

Much of the gameplay involves converting objects from one thing to another by altering their spelling. That sounds odd outside of a text-based game, but in this setting it works brilliantly.

Structurally, the game is the type where you wander around an area collecting things and solving puzzles that may require pieces from distant parts of the game world. But with the way this game works, the key to solving puzzles requires a lot of creativity and word-play.

The game provides many hours of gameplay. It took me several days. For the most part, the puzzles were the right level of challenge to make for fun gameplay, but I did use a walkthrough a few times when I got stuck.


- zinze, November 15, 2021

- NorkaBoid (Ohio, USA), November 14, 2021

- mg51, October 24, 2021

- civilstat (Maine, USA), October 21, 2021

- blissingtypes, October 10, 2021

- Little Bilham (Atlanta, GA), September 7, 2021

- sunmono, August 19, 2021

- bpeel (France), August 18, 2021

- doodlelogic, August 15, 2021

- Wanderlust, August 11, 2021

- Prosilire (New York City), August 3, 2021

- Hellzon (Sweden), July 1, 2021

- OverThinking, June 26, 2021


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