If you've managed to figure out your fireworks and your custard pies, you may have successfully reached the end of the first Discworld game. Well, Rincewind's troubles are not over yet for there was a sequel; Discworld 2: Missing, Presumed...? (or Mortality Bytes to some of you)...
Released a year later in 1996, the second game in the Discworld series ups the ante on almost every technical level. The graphics have gone from an ageing pixellated VGA style to a spanking new cell animated SVGA explosion of colour. In fact, the rival of this era from a graphical standpoint would be LucasArts' Curse of Monkey Island. It's a style rarely adopted but works magnificently, oftentimes feeling like you are playing a Saturday morning cartoon.
The game begins with a drunk Rincewind and the orangutang Librarian in a hilarious lampoon of Lethal Weapon 3. This sees our hapless wizard attempt to defuse a bomb on a donkey cart instead of a car. It almost copies the scene verbatim, even going so far as to include the feline fake-out. It treads the fine line between plagiarism and parody wonderfully. The script even breaks the fourth wall claiming "aren't you gonna miss this when they stop making these games?" just before the Jester's Guild blows up in an explosion that demonstrates their "improved budget".
Coming out during the mid-nineties, this line seems strangely prophetic. While obviously intended as a humourous homage at the time, the adventure genre would later slip out of fashion, only recently seeing a niche but notable resurgence. After several high-profile financial failures (including the third game in this trilogy), adventure gaming would become a dirty word amongst developers by the end of the decade. Perfect 10 would later go out of business and the two main proponents of the graphic adventure, Sierra and LucasArts, would ditch their current adventurous projects in favour of more popular and safe action orientated fares eventually dying out themselves. I do believe that LucasArts' transformation into the sub-par Star Wars Gaming Company is the main reason for their demise but that's a topic for another day.
Anyway, back to the game. In case you can't tell, Discworld 2 retains its most valuable feature: its humour. Terry Pratchett's source novels again make the game shine, giving rise to some fantastic situations and jokes, but the presentation is far slicker this time. Like its predecessor, conversations do last a long time, but each and every one is a little miniature sketch sure to bring out a guffaw or two.
Another way in which it greatly improves over the original is in the puzzle design. Remember that tiny worm? There's no such shenanigans going on here. Even the insane logic of the puzzles have been toned down, with welcome clues being subtly (or not so subtly) brought to you during the dialogue scenes.
Most of the voice cast returns, with a couple of notable exceptions. Tony Robinson did not reprise his many roles (although he did make an appearance in the Sky One adaptaion of The Hogfather reviewed yesterday) and John Pertwee sadly passed away before the beginning of production. We did see Nigel Planer from the Young Ones added (who also appeared in The Hogfather), lending his voice to several characters.
Eric Idle again brings his trademark sarcasm to our hapless wizard. This time, he even wrote a song especially for the game. Reminiscent of his musical contributions to Monty Python, That's Death plays over the opening credits giving it the honour of being one of the few games that's worth sitting through these name calls in its entirety.
Discworld 2 is definitely an improvement over the first game and one that's not nearly as daunting to play either - although it's not easy by any means. These games are definitely some of my favourites in the genre and both are well worth checking out.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses ScummVM to allow the game to run on modern PCs. Manual included. Tested on Windows 7.
01.07.2015 - Version 2 - Improved installer
30.08.2017 - Version 3 - Updated SCUMMVM. Compressed audio
File Size: 518 Mb. Install Size: 770 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Discworld 2: Missing, Presumed...? is © Perfect 10 Entertainment
Discworld (the universe) is © Terry Pratchett
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me