Written by  :  -Chris (7565)
Written on  :  Aug 20, 2001
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars

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Simply charming.

The Good

It is not difficult to earn a place in the hall of fame of German text adventures: there are hardly any. Of those that exist, the Weltenschmiede games (Das Stundenglas,Die Kathedrale, Hexuma) make up the upper-class. And among those three, the debut Das Stundenglas is the favorite.

Charming in its naive simplicity and yet almost flawless in its fair puzzle design, Das Stundenglas succeeds with playful ease in creating a pleasant fairy-tale world and guiding you through it. Not only are the world's inhabitants likeable in their dialogues and reactions, the locations nicely described and illustrated. What is more, the game possesses a rare quality: it encourages you to solve its puzzles instead of hindering you. Das Stundenglas makes sure that you know exactly what your current problem is, and supports you with plenty of clues most of the time.

Two clever features come in especially handy: You can ask any person in the game the keywords you're interested in, and they will point you to the one who can help you: "No, I don't know about the unicorn, but I think the witch does!" A simple and yet incredibly helpful technique that I've missed badly in other games. Also, there is a system of teleport arches that allows effortless access to key locations. Both things are especially helpful as the game is non-linear in a nice, non-confusing way. You can collect 12 crucial items in (almost) any order you chose, and pursue another if you're stuck with one.

The Bad

Of course, Das Stundenglas is no intellectual giant. One could call it a stereotypic fairy-tale and be above reproach. The puzzles rarely go beyond the usual "fetch item" routine. The parser is only mediocre; you need to stick to a set of basic commands. On the upside, the fairly straight-forward challenges make Das Stundenglas one of the few interactive fiction games that are suited for inexperienced or not-so-dedicated players.

The Bottom Line

A generally overlooked German classic, Das Stundenglas is an amiable fairy-tale with a beautiful world and pleasantly fair puzzles. Wants to be loved, and deserves to.