Swiss Family Robinson

by Johann David Wyss, Gabrielle Savage, David Dockterman, and Tom Snyder


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Ages better than you'd think, June 29, 2020

Autocomplete in 1984? Not too shabby.

Swiss Family Robinson is an odd entry in the bookware wave, a parser game clearly aimed at a younger playing audience. (That doesn't mean you don't get 1984-style instadeaths, but they do feel a bit more like learning opportunities.) But the parser works with you, saving you from wasting time on impossible or unparseable commands by basically forcing everything to conform to an autocomplete algorithm.

And out of the shortlist of commercial titles that expressly targeted a younger audience (Seastalker and... a few others, give me a minute) SFR seems to have dialed in on its target much more effectively. You may be at a loss for things to do (or animals to butcher into steaks) but it never feels like the game is abandoning you.

It's possible to be rescued without doing all of the interesting things in the game, making the game replayable. And today it feels ahead of its time by gently putting the player on rails without being too patronizing.

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