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Summary15 hilarious ways to die
The GoodUm, replace that one-line summary with a quote from a song you (or anybody else in the world) actually KNOW. I'm just trying to get the concept across here - there's nothing else to this game than dying. You get a funny comment every time you do so, and every time you do so you will also gain the knowledge of how NOT to die. Which is the purpose of the game in fact, so it's kinda self-defeating since you essentially have to solve a game by methodically taking all the steps which are antithetical to its basic premise. If that sounded too pretentious to you, then basically the only way to solve most of this game's puzzles is by dying repeatedly and thus becoming aware of how to stay alive. That's learning how to survive the hard way, eh? For example, in one screen you have a very vaguely drawn rectangle on the ground - when you step on it, you fall inside a trap and you die. When you reload the game, and type "look at trap" in the parser, the game responds "What trap? I don't see any trap! Hey guys, do you see any trap here? Nope, no trap here!" It IS funny, yes, but it's kinda sad that the only means for these folk to do something creative and involving in this game was by thinking up of funny, unexpected ways to die and then writing humorous little good-bye messages (many of which, btw, were quite surprisingly derisive towards the player - not that I was offended, which I easily could've been, I'm just wondering whether that sort of slipped by the Sierra Quality Assurance there a bit).
Aside from that, this is just average Sierra adventure fare. Most probably one of the other guys who reviewed the game was right, it was probably a bit of a cash-in for Sierra, slapped together with no idea or original conception. I remember enjoying the first game in the series (some years ago), but this one just seems so dull, so totally regressive - even in the intro, it just states, "well, in the first game you became a hero, but now you're back to being a janitor". This is already well past the line dividing irony from total cynicism, in the wrong direction. I didn't get very far in the game (I stopped in the maze with the ladders), so maybe I missed out on something, but I doubt it: a bunch of screens thrown together with the usual suspects of man-eating mushrooms, hostile swamp creatures, goons, people with clubs and little innocent creatures you have to "help" does not give much promise for any later sections. The puzzles sucked, stunningly being incredibly obvious and mind-bogglingly illogical at the same time - like a dead tree just by the side of a canyon I have no way of crossing. No no, you don't have to PUSH it, or kick it or shove it. You have to CLIMB it. A dead tree, obviously liable to break at any moment, precariously positioned right beside a bottom-less pit. Climb it. What were you expecting to do at the top of it, TAKE IN THE SIGHTS?
And what about other characters, or an interesting setting, or a plot, or - hey, an explanation for there being an underwater cavern beneath the swamp in the middle of nowhere with a glowing gem in it. Nah, don't bother. Space Quest 2: the pinnacle of that philosophy of "ironic" game design where the game being crap was in fact considered to be the most sophisticated of all jokes.
The BadEr, was that the "good" section? Sorry.
The Bottom Line*imitates staring morosely and dull-ly at a computer screen, only to be distracted by a passing fly or a speck of dust falling from the ceiling, or ANY INCREDIBLY UNINTERESTING THING AT ALL*
(Explanatory note to Moby readers who have never written a review here: this section is currently being hyped to me as my answer to the question, "How would you describe this game to others?", despite the fact that it appears under a different heading currently as you read it. Therefore the seeming discrepancy between what you expected to read and what I in fact have written there. Much like, to get back slightly to the original topic, this very game: you expect to find something entertaining, but instead you get something which was originally, in some bizarre historical context, supposed to be "hip" and "with it", and, not coincidentally, totally fails to be entertaining.)