The Wizard Sniffer

by Buster Hudson profile

Fantasy
2017

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Not-princesses all around!, June 4, 2021
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: Fantasy, Puzzler

It all begins with a rather awkward protagonist to control: a pig (which can alledgedly sniff out wizards...) Since pigs walk on four feet and have no opposable thumbs, a lot of commands are thrown out the window by nature of the PC. And although pigs are known to be very clever animals by those who study them (pigycists?), this particular pig does seem to rise even above normal intelligence levels of other members of the species Sus scrofa. For one thing, it can read...

Seeing that this smart pig is somewhat limited in the handiness department, it must find other ways to further its goals. Cue NPCs. By virtue of an excellent grasp of human psychology, our protagonist-pig can manipulate the other characters into following it around and it nudges them to interact with objects or other characters through very deliberately SNIFFing of pieces of the surroundings. Different characters will act upon this sniffing in different ways, according to their nature.

One of the pig's major ways to solve puzzles is therefore to choose the right NPC to come along and do the hands-on work. Instead of switching between PCs with their special abilities, here our pig-protagonist has to switch between NPC accomplices. The way this is handled in-game is both elegant and hilarious.

The puzzles flow seamlessly from the story and the setting. Some of them are pig-adjusted variations on standard adventure-fare, while others are truly surprising and original.

The writing is fresh and crisp, with a truly great comedic touch. There is lots of physical slapstick comedy, but at least as much of the humour comes from the pig's observations of the humans. Our pig always keeps a certain distance and so can easily see through the notions about identity the NPCs have about themselves.

Through these observations and the development of the story, what started as a laugh-out-loud comedy evolves into a character-driven drama by the finale. The Aesop that becomes clear near the end could have been cliché and heavy-handed, but the lightness and subtlety of the writing lifts it far above a finger-waving moral-of-the-story.

Truly one of the greatest games I have ever played.