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SummaryLarry goes out with a bang!
The GoodAfter the sixth installment brought the glory back to the series, Al Lowe and the crew decided to stick to the formula and build upon the same concept of free exploration of a large enclosed area, "death-free" policy, and focus on challenging inventory-based puzzles.
Undeniably, the best thing about Love for Sail is interaction. Mid-nineties were a dangerous time for the adventure genre, as interfaces became more and more simplified, and puzzle design fluctuated wildly between sparse clicking between FMVs and fiddling with mind-breaking mechanical devices. Luckily, Love for Sail escapes both those extreme tendencies: it is a generously designed game with wealth of choices and copious amounts of feedback, and it is a joy to sink your adventure-craving teeth into.
In my opinion, Love for Sail has the best interface ever conceived for an adventure game. It combines the elegance and simplicity of contemporary-style interaction with the good old early text-typing. That's right: you get the best of both worlds in this game. Every object gives you a standard choice of interaction possibilities, plus the ability to type any verb you like and see what happens. Naturally, not every verb will be recognized as applicable to every object; but what matters here is trying. The game encourages experimenting and creative thinking, and that's the right ingredient for a great adventure. In some instances, you are actually required to think outside of the box and type in the right action in order to solve a puzzle.
Every dialogue you participate in allows you to choose between a wide variety of topics. Love for Sail is the most verbose game in the series, and that's a good thing: the writing is consistently entertaining, with plenty of the silly, charming humor we've come to appreciate in those games. Like before, the narrator provides plenty of feedback, commenting on every action your attempt, and his constant taunting remarks and poking verbal exchanges with Larry himself are delightful.
Like its predecessor, Love for Sail is open-ended. You are free to explore most of the ship right from the beginning, with only a few locations being barred from your drive to discover, further stimulating your curiosity. Even though you can't ever leave the ship, it comes across as a large game world with as much diversity as they could probably achieve with such a thematically limited location. The game is built like one gigantic puzzle, with most of your tasks being interconnected and intertwined, so that you'll need to be attentive and good at multi-tasking. I prefer this adventure design philosophy to linear, self-sufficient segments.
The puzzles are, for the most part, varied, challenging, and appropriately illogical and amusing. In fact, this is probably the most puzzle-rich Larry game. Love for Sail also comes with lots of extra stuff, starting with funny minigames such as "find a dildo", and ending with a piece of paper that you could scratch in order to experience the authentic smell of a given moment in the game. You can also record your own voice to replace some of the dialogue lines. You can play dice, cook stuff in a pot, or discover various Easter eggs to see all the girls in their natural versions.
Visually, this installment makes a full usage of the latest cartoon technology, and presents a comically disproportional Larry raving in SVGA environments and sexy women with .BMP extensions to decorate your desktop. Now the characters don't just talk funny: they look funny, too. The graphics are colorful and vibrant, the animations are spot on. The music, thanks to the possibilities of the medium, reaches its most glorious moment in the history of the series. Already the early MIDI music of Larry games was great, but now it is all nicely packed in beautifully orchestrated audio tracks.
The BadThe only thing Love for Sail seriously lacks is originality. The success of the previous title probably convinced the developers that they should stop experimenting and focus on what worked well. As a result, they devised a nearly identical formula for this final iteration. Larry is once again confined to one major location (in this case, the ship), and the game's plot essentially consists of trying to have sex with almost every female character you meet so that you'll be able to gain access to the "mega-babe". Sounds familiar?
Indeed, while Love for Sail excels at what it wants to be, its aspirations in terms of overall structure and storytelling aren't very high, to say the least. It gets predictable when you know with certainty that you'll be getting busy with several young women at once only to score with the final one. Now, I don't demand an involving plot full of dramatic twists and sharp psychological observations from a Larry game, but it looks like they didn't even try here. It is also a bit sad that, after all the romantic perturbations he has been through, the character of Larry returned to tricky, yet schematic womanizing without any other interesting incentives thrown into the pot.