Jolly Good: Cakes and Ale

by Kreg Segall

Episode 1 of Jolly Good
Comedy Adventure
2020

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A million-word Wodehousian comedy, December 7, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: more than 10 hours

I'm fairly certain this is the largest commissioned single-author interactive fiction game ever released.

80 Days has 750K words, and Fallen London (with over 30 authors) has 2.5 million.

The Hosted Game (another label from Choice of Games that essentially helps authors self-publish) called Tin Star has 1.4 million words, making it a little bigger.

This game is 100% in the Wodehousian vein. You are a rich and fairly lazy young man (or woman) who is, unknown to themselves, about to join one of London's prestigious clubs, the Noble Gases.

The story is told with a framing device where you are in the club, explaining to others how you arrived at your present situation. You have the option to retell each of the eight chapters, essentially giving you free save points.

One playthrough of this game took me over 4 hours, and seeing even half the content would take more than 10 hours.

The content branches quite a bit. In each chapter you generally have 4 or more options on how to spend your time, each of them conflicting with each other. In fact, the main mechanic of the game is constantly sacrificing one of your interest for another.

I found it overwhelming at times. I strove to be a subservient and friendly person who constantly tried to please his family, yet ended up with only middling relations with them and everyone else more or less displeased at me. The game allows for that, though, with very interesting writing happening when you fail. I intend to play through in the future.

I spent a great deal of one chapter at the opera (at the expense of other parts). In real life, I love the opera, so it was a little sad seeing my character found it boring. The references in the game are very funny and thrown in everywhere (I even saw a reference to Shakespeare's Cymbeline, which I didn't expect).

To me, this felt like 4 or 5 games in one. By focusing on all the family events and good moral character, I skipped out on all the chances to be a thief, much of the romance, and much of the club activity, but ended up having fun with my aunt's foster orphan and my lovelorn cousin.

As a final note, this is part 1 of a 3 part series, and so most threads are loose by the end of the game.

+Polish: I can't imagine the awful process involved in proofreading and editing a million-world novel with adjustable pronouns. I found no errors, I don't know how.
+Descriptiveness: The writing is lush and filled with snappy dialogue, clever allusions, and funny asides.
+Interactivity: This game takes the same approach as Animalia when it comes to branching: branch a ton and just write a ton of words for every choice, so every playthrough is different but long. It's the hardest approach, but I really respect it.
+Emotional impact: Several choices made me very nervous, and several pieces of dialog made me laugh.
+Would I play again? Definitely. It's like a whole new game, I might as well. I could be a crazy jerk lady-thief if I wanted to.