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by David Welbourn

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Alias 'The Magpie'

by J. J. Guest profile

Episode 1 of The Magpie
Comedy
2018

Web Site

(based on 63 ratings)
5 reviews

About the Story

Sir Rodney Playfair, gentleman thief, has a simple plan: impersonate a psychiatrist, infiltrate a country house, steal a priceless Egyptian scarab and make it back to London in time for cocktails. All in a day's work for the illustrious 'Magpie'.


Game Details


Awards

Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best NPCs; Winner - the Magpie, Best Individual PC; Nominee, Best Implementation - 2018 XYZZY Awards

1st Place overall; 1st Place, Miss Congeniality - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)

46th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2019 edition)


News

The post-comp release of Alias 'The Magpie' is now available to play or download. The new release contains myriad small improvements suggested by players and reviewers during the competition.
Reported by J. J. Guest | History | Edit | Delete
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Editorial Reviews

McT's Interactive Fiction Reviews

Beautifully, professionally done – superbly implemented. Funny, clever and delicious. I doubt it can be completed in 2 hours, but this is currently the standard bearer in the competition for me. 10/10.
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IF Comprehensive
A rich setting, motivated puzzles, and memorable characters
My introduction to interactive fiction was playing the Infocom games as a kid. They were fun then but a bit dated now, with an emphasis on contrived inventory and set-piece puzzles and less NPC interaction than modern works. “Alias ‘The Magpie'” plays like one of the best games from that era, but with a rich setting, motivated puzzles, and memorable characters. Score: 10
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The Breakfast Review
Something Fresh
Now, this is Something Fresh. We are an imposter -- that is, we are a slippery gentleman thief pretending to be a famous psychiatrist -- and our objective is a scarab, a Cheops of the Fourth Dynasty. What follows is a Wodehousian romp complete with dotty aristocrats, disguises, and wacky hijinks.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. The voice is engaging and the writing knows just how much to say and how much to leave out. The puzzles were just challenging enough, and the gating is effective. The characterisations are comedic just verging on cartoonish, without going into eye-roll territory. It's certainly not deep or thought-provoking in any way, but this damn-well near exactly what I come to IF hoping to find.
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Good Old Days
+ Colourful and very detailed background
+ Wonderfully neurotic characters
+ Clever setup for a nifty chain of events
+ Best use of a cucumber in a video game ever
+ Had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes at times
- Some of the puzzles could have used a bit more or better hinting
= Just like playing a Pink Panther movie.
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Patrick Brian Mooney

This was a fun treasure hunt. The multiple levels of deception involved in pretending to be multiple people to various NPCs was also a fun mechanic. The multiple disguises were great, too, and most of the interlocking puzzles were wonderful. The map was elegantly designed and access control handled gracefully. In all of these ways, it feels a lot like The Wizard Sniffer last year, though with a smaller, more restricted field of action and with a larger verb set. But all in all, it's wonderful in some of the same ways. Rating 9/10
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Retro Adventurer
Puzzles a’plenty, and plenty to like about this game
EXAMINE responses are informative and humorous. X CRUMBS reveals, “It looks as though someone has had their cake and trampled on it.” The DUTCH COW is “A fine example of vile Victorian tat, which, in spite of its size, manages to lower the tone of the whole room.” J.J. Guest gets richly creative with his descriptions. To EXAMINE TABLE, we get, “A George III mahogany inlaid double-pedestal extension table featuring a reeded top with rounded corners and matched-swirl mahogany veneers crossbanded with quartered pau ferro and satinwood stringing. Rather fine.” We also have probably the best response to EXAMINE WALL that I’ve ever seen. “Staring at the walls will send you wall-eyed, probably.”
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These Heterogenous Tasks
Writing that works as reward
As far as the environment goes, it does a fine job of cramming in a sense of lavish Victorian decorative excess without overburdening the text. That’s true of the writing in general: it’s ornate without being stodgy, and there’s always something interesting going on with it. It’s not always the most scintillatingly beautiful prose in the world, but it’s always got something that it’s excited about and really wants to show you, and it does have some really good lines. It’s writing that works as reward.

All this went a long way towards holding my interest in a game that has a good-sized map and doesn’t channel you very strongly at the beginning. Also helpful here: the sense of the place being alive. This is very much an inhabited space, and the people inhabiting it are active – not that there’s a hugely complex NPC-movement system or anything, but the density of simple triggered events on your arrival goes a long way.
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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A hilarious comedy game with plenty of puzzles and a British setting, February 17, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

This is a great comedy based on misunderstandings and physical humor.

You are a thief, sent to steal a priceless object from a British manor. But to do so, you must assum a variety of costumes and identities.

Along the way, you discover the secrets of the household and the neighborhood, including lies, deceit, regret, and gorillas.

There were a few sticky points in puzzles that were fussier than they needed to be, but otherwise this is a prime example of what a polished parser puzzler can look like. One of the best games of the 2010’s.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
One of the Best IF Comedies I've Ever Played, November 16, 2018

Alias 'The Magpie' drew me in quickly, with its very English tone and sense of humor. I found it cleverly-written, well-implemented, and a lot of fun to play.

Like last year's The Wizard Sniffer, as the story in Alias 'The Magpie' unfolds it keeps raising the comedic stakes higher and higher in ways that leave you thinking, "How is this all going to hold together?" But it does. Does it ever: I have rarely laughed so much playing an IF game! J.J. Guest has already demonstrated a fine-tuned ear for comedy in To Hell in a Hamper, but it's clear he's gotten better with time: Alias 'The Magpie' is longer, features several more characters, and has a much more complex plot, but that comedic fine-tuning somehow manages to be even more on pitch.

My one critique is that I think a couple of the puzzles are rather difficult for a light comedy game. But this is a minor critique in what is a truly excellent parser comedy - one of the best IF comedies I've ever played, in fact.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Great game for those new to IF, October 25, 2018

This is only my third IF game/book but it is easily my favourite. It's very accessible to those of us without the experience of of IF conventions and expectations.

The puzzles are great and easily solved with help from the extension (and hilarious) hint system. It took me a bit longer than most but I didn't mind wandering around being an idiot, as everything had a purpose in the end.

The characters are amusing and easily recognizable if you've ever read Wodehouse, though they are more whimsical, though just as expertly written.

It will definitely make you laugh. And I don't think you'll be able to stop playing before you get to the end...

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Alias 'The Magpie' on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Alias 'The Magpie' appears in the following Recommended Lists:

My favorite games by Artran
I appreciate smaller, puzzle-less, or experimental games like Shade, howling dogs, Photopia, Toby's Nose, De Baron. However, it's the longer, well-implemented interactive fiction games that tend to leave a lasting impression on me. These...

Interactive Fiction Competition Winners by RichCheng
These are the games that won First Place honours in the IFComp each year.

New walkthroughs for February 2023 by David Welbourn
On Saturday, February 25, 2023, I published new walkthroughs for the games and stories listed below! Some of these were paid for by my wonderful patrons at Patreon. Please consider supporting me to make even more new walkthroughs for...

See all lists mentioning this game

Polls

The following polls include votes for Alias 'The Magpie':

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Story of 2018 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2018 which you think might be worth considering for Best Story in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to suggest games...

Games where you can't screw up by Pinstripe
Sometimes, when I'm playing a game, I spend more time juggling my save files than I do reading the text. I don't want to have to restart because I picked up the green rod instead of the clay jug (with apologies to Zarf). So I'm looking...

Games Where the Title Is You by AKheon
Games with a title that is the same as the main character.

See all polls with votes for this game




This is version 30 of this page, edited by JTN on 2 December 2023 at 10:22pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page