The Pretender is the story of Laurence, a 19th-century stage magician whose act has gone wrong: tampering with an artifact of genuine magical power at the conclusion of his performance, he opens a portal to another world and awakens in this strange land, his audience dispersed through its stages in a ghostly form. His goal is to retrieve them, going through the level and collecting them one at a time, leading them back to the exit portal before going back for the next.

This is complicated (mildly -- the player has unlimited lives and can reset the map at any time) by the presence of bottomless pits, water traps and impassable boulders. His own magical abilities amounting to nothing useful (he can make a little flash) he walks left and right and climbs up and down ladders circumventing these obstacles and looking for mystical glyphs in the ground which imbue him with genuine elemental power when walked upon. These markings make him either a rock-man, capable of pushing aside boulders and smashing brittle floor-rocks, or a wispy air person, capable of being picked up and carried along by the slightest gust of wind -- and projecting wind of his own to propel things like sailboats. (A third glyph strips him of his elemental abilities and restores him to normal.)

This first installment contains four level sets of varying difficulty, each of which contains at least one optional "story" level and five mostly-necessary puzzle levels, any four of which must be completed before unlocking access to the next difficulty level. Beyond the central premise of the plot, the story levels concern themselves with the gradual unfolding of some hidden relationship between the magician's assistant Eliza and a mysterious aged man of great magical power, a resident of the magic dream-land... presumably to be elaborated upon in part two.


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This game's initial "release" at 2BeeGames was not intended for public consumption but rather for consideration in a Flash game developer contest, ostensibly to be played and rated by a private group of peers and judges. Somewhere along the line, however, it broke free and went viral, drawing over five times as much traffic as the next most popular entry in the contest (Cipher Prime's Auditorium) and jeopardizing the developers' hopes to keep a lid on the game until a sponsor could be lined up for a period of exclusive offering. Having earned their buzz, on or before June 11th the developers temporarily replaced the "full version" of The Pretender: Part One on the contest site with a limited demo version, offering the two easiest level sets but denying access to the hardest two.

Given the accidental viral success of Part One, it seems a shoe-in that the developers at Launching Pad will follow through with an expanded Part Two, including the further elemental abilities of fire and water magic.

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Pseudo_Intellectual (60344) added The Pretender: Part One (Browser) on Jun 09, 2009