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About the Story
You are standing at the edge of a barren field. A steady wind, having secreted away the topsoil, is now drifting sandy dirt across the plain. A scant sign of life here is a freshly-burrowed molehill on the ground.
The nature of such a game means that many of the puzzles will be of the "guess what the author is thinking" type. Also, since the puzzles don't necessarily build on each other, but often stand separately, you may finish a story only to be told that there were more things you could have done, and be forced to return later. [...] The real strength of the game is in its Writing and Atmosphere. The mood created is delightfully surreal, and the constant clever descriptions and responses make this one of the best "reading" text games ever produced.
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One section, "Shake A Tower" is based round spoonerisms. These verbal mistakes were named after the Reverend W A Spooner back at the turn of the century, who had the unfortunate habit of transposing the initial sounds of spoken words. Thus "Shake A Tower" would become "Take A Shower". Some of the examples in the game are as obvious but others are decidedly devious. Don't expect to just be able to swap two letters, you'll have to think quite deeply about some of them.
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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
This is an interesting game. With wordplay games, the question is, how can you make a game about wordplay that lasts long? One answer is to follow Emily Short's example and just put tons of content into a game (Counterfeit Monkey).
This game achieves its length through unfairness. Parts of this game (it's basically several mini-games put together) are wonderful: Buy the Farm was particularly good, as was the Shopping Bizarre. Those two would make a wonderful game pulled out on their own, one relying on American English sayings and the other on homonyms.
Some parts of this game don't make any sense. I didn't understand In a Manor of Speaking (which btw is also the name of a great Hulk Handsome game) at all, and looking it up, I still haven't found a good explanation at all. I believe having the Doldrums was a mistake, because it made you think everything else had a gimmick (like Gary Larson's infamous Cow Tools cartoon).
But if the game wasn't unfair, it wouldn't last very long. The only way I've seen fair wordplay games achieve length is through tons of content, like I said. Andrew Schultz does this with exhaustive code-enhanced wordspace searches. Shuffling Around is a good example of this.
I also like the Act your Part session. It was nonsensical, but I was able to get a lot of points just doing dumb stuff.
I played the version released by Zarf who was re-releasing Jason Scott's releasing of previously unreleased Infocom releases.
I desperately want to love this game, but sadly I can only sort of like it. I'm obsessed with words, odd phrases, and idioms, so I went into this game with quite high hopes. Broken up into a series of 'interactive short stories,' a few of the stories are fantastically fun and pull off the wordplay game mechanic marvelously. A few of the stories are confusing and confounding to the point of being unplayable.
The stories that really shine -- "Shake a Tree," "Buy the Farm," "Shopping Bizarre" being the main highlights -- integrate wordplay like spoonerisms and taking idioms literally in truly inventive ways. As your playing with words often alters the game world, there are many opportunities for surreal, odd, and plain funny happenstances (Spoiler - click to show)like when some locks on a door become smoked salmon lox...that need to be 'unloxed' . O'Neill's writing in these sections is superb, conveying the strangeness of some surreal transformation caused by you invoking a bit of word play.
If this had been sustained for a full game (a la Counterfeit Monkey), I would easily give this game a 5 star review. However, the short stories that fall flat fall very, very flat. At least two of the stories almost certainly necessitate using the (fortunately built-in) hints, as the 'puzzles' involve guessing at some joke or bit of cleverness that you have only some vague idea of. This is essentially the same driving mechanic in the stories that work well -- except you are able to arrive at the right conclusions by playing around with the words in the text. For stories like "Manor of Speaking" and "Act the Part," there is very little actual wordplay involved, and few other clues in the text as to how to make progress.
Although I absolutely love the parts of the game that work, the fact that I was forced to heavily rely on hints and walkthroughs for nearly half the game seriously soured my overall experience.
What a weird game!
Of all the guess-the-verb puzzles I've hated over the years, this one is actually fun, though the entire game seems to be a series of guess the verb (or guess the noun) puzzles.
You choose between a few different locales based on different language-isms. One is based on spoonerisms, where you must turn a Gritty Pearl into a Pretty Girl. Another is based on homonyms, where you must turn the steak into a stake so you can kill a vampire. Another is on puns, where you must eat a group of lions (swallow your pride!) and eat humble pie, turn the tables (literally) etc. Yet another has you doing cliches, such as making a mountain out of a molehill or killing two birds with one stone.
The gameplay consists mainly of you looking at stuff, then trying to guess what cliche was intended. When you see that you have one stone, you must figure out that you need to kill two birds with it, or when the mice are sliding around in the grain, you need to let a cat on them, because while the cats away the mice will play. If you are not familiar with these trite phrases, you won't get far, since there's nothing other to figure out. When you see a bunch of locks, you just type >LOX to turn them into fish.
While the gameplay can be interesting, it grates on you eventually, as you try to complete areas but you've run out of sayings so you don't know what else the game is looking for. But, if you like frustration, this is the game for you!
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This is version 9 of this page, edited by Petter Sjölund on 27 September 2021 at 9:37am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item