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About the Story
A weird power to save a weird world.
Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle - 2012 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 3
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If you enjoyed Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail Of It--specifically the Shopping Bizarre--then Shuffling Around is an absolute must play.
I've always been fairly good at anagramming but found it mostly dull. But Schultz did just such an impressive job at turning it into a funny, engaging game with clever puzzles and endearing characters. And even if you're not good at anagramming, there are an unbelievable amount of gadgets you can use to give yourself different types of hints depending on your weaknesses that allow you to play at the exact pace you want. On top of that, if you get truly stuck you can just ask the game for more direct hints if you want to avoid going to an anagram solver on-line.
Like the Shopping Bizarre in Nord & Bert, you must often solve random anagrams lying around to get objects for your inventory to use on puzzles later. And while some of the puzzles are really straightforward (e.g. anagramming a bunch of items in a kitchen to make yourself some food), there are some rather genius multi-step puzzles, my favorite being the one to defeat the archenemy in the sortie.
But beyond just the puzzles, Schultz spent on what I can only imagine was an ungodly amount of time writing copious descriptions of rooms and objects that use clever anagrams for no other reason than to show off, and it was wonderful. Admittedly some of the anagrams are forced and make the writing a bit stilted in places, but in this world it was welcome.
There's not much of a story and it's mostly a disjointed puzzlefest, but considering each anagram I solved was like pushing a dopamine button, I was glad to be a rat in this maze.
This game is mid-to-long parser game involving a lot of word puzzles in the form of anagrams. You travel through a wide variety of bizarre spaces whose description is written with as many anagrams as possible (like a 'scantier canister') to overcome a vague and threatening bad guy named Red Bull Burdell.
The presence of so many anagrams in the text makes it very rich, requiring slow and careful reading. It can be difficult to piece together what's going on. In general, it seems that you are a special chosen one, prophesied to bring an end to Burdell's reign through your ability to change objects and locations.
You change things by typing in anagrams of objects and locations in the room. It's fun trying to find anagrams of everything, although sometimes it's difficult to know if adjectives are supposed to be included or not.
It is of course interesting to compare this game to Counterfeit Monkey and Ad Verbum. Shuffling Around leans closer to the 'pure puzzle' style of Ad Verbum, but it has a fairly large map and storyline, like 'Counterfeit Monkey' (but a bit smaller). In contrast to both games, all the rooms'
descriptions are filled with wordplay.
A must-play for fans of word puzzles.
Short on character and story, this game is almost entirely a collection of word puzzles, specifically of the anagramming sort. If you like word puzzles, you'll like this.
The in-game help system is first-rate and should allow any wordsmith to complete the game without a walkthrough.
The writing is good, at times slightly over-verbose, but never unnecessary.
I was slightly confused by the intro: it took me a little more time to puzzle out the difference between the gadget and the slider, and why I'd take one and not the other. I think it could use a little more exposition earlier on. It may be a minor spoiler, but I think the game would be improved if the player knew early on that (Spoiler - click to show)the gadget is easy mode--the slider is hard mode. You can probably complete the game with either, or neither, if you're adept at anagrams, but it'd be nice to be able to swap between them mid-game, so you could start with the slider & switch to the gadget when under extreme duress.
If you can't wait for the Sunday Puzzle by Will Shortz on NPR each week, this is a game for you. If you're more interested in character/narrative driven story experiences, you'll probably be less enthusiastic about this game.
I love the word-puzzle aspect, and am glad that I discovered Schultz work via InfoComp2013 and 3diopolis.
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