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A clever wordplay game with a huge world, October 18, 2020
I’m always happy to see another Andrew Schultz game in the comp. His games have ranged from large open worlds with large amount of traditional puzzles (like The Problems Compound) and compact, laser-focused games like Threediopolis or The Cube in the Cavern.
This one has open-world elements mixed with a lot of wordplay. There is a specific gimmick/rule for items and things in this game that has surprisingly large amounts of play.
I beta tested this game, and was pretty overwhelmed while testing. The state of all possible solutions is so large (especially when using slang words or words I’d never heard pronounced). Fortunately, since then, Andrew Schultz has both increased the number of available help systems (including a very useful passage to a ‘cheater’ helper) and turned on most of the older hint systems by default.
My most recent playthrough was a lot easier due to these helps, but still difficult. I especially enjoyed the boat-based sequence. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the game is when you get on a good string of guesses in a row. One possible weakness is the lack of uniformity in puzzle solutions; each puzzle might be solved by a song you’re thinking of, a book you’ve read, typing in the solution to a wordplay puzzle, or USE-ing an item. While this theoretically increases freedom, the state space becomes a little too large for me to handle successfully. Available hint items definitely aid this though!
One thing I’d love to see in a future Andrew Schultz game is one where you have to find nouns hidden inside other words (like a ‘shovel’ that produces a ‘hovel’ you can enter).
+Polish: Given the enormous state space, I think this is very polished.
+Descriptiveness: There's a lot of creative uses of the main wordplay mechanic here.
+Interactivity: Despite my frustrations, I had fun. I like wordplay.
-Emotional impact: I didn't get absorbed into the story.
+Would I play again? Yeah, it feels like there's more to discover.