Thursday saw the sad passing of one our greatest authors, Terry Pratchett. He is perhaps one of the most beloved and influential authors of his generation. To celebrate his life and work, I will dedicate a whole week to all things Pratchett, reviewing his adaptations in digital and celluloid. We begin a classic; the 1995 adventure game Discworld...
The Discworld series is very much a love or hate it affair, and one that all depends on how much you love Terry Pratchett. It's a game that seems to include every annoying adventure game trope multiplied to the Nth degree, yet still manages to come out being one of my (and many others) favourite games of all time. Let me explain;
One of the cardinal sins of adventure gaming is pixel hunting. That moment where you sweep your cursor over each entire screen to see if there is a hot spot that you missed, usually only a couple of pixels in size. This game is probably the worst example of this I've ever seen.
The game also has an insane logic too. Want a belt? Fine. All you have to do is seduce a prostitute to get custard to dump it down a toilet along with an octopus (taken from a fishmonger with a little help from some rope and that crazy little worm). You then have to go back in time, steal a drumstick from a pub sign, go back to the present, ring the lunch gong so that you can take a fellow wizard's prunes. You then hide these prunes in the fishmonger's caviar so that he'll get the squits and head for the toilet, only to be attacked by the cephalopod. You can then take the fishmonger's belt while his pants are down. Phew.
It's this loony logic that gives the game a reputation from being one of the most difficult adventure games out there. In fact, when as a child had to resort to a walkthrough many times in order to complete it. Did this make it any less enjoyable for me? Not all all, which brings me to my next point.
The dialogue scenes are loooong. I'm talking delayed-flight-at-Heathrow-airport long, though this is far more fun than that. It's more Monty Python marathon long. Sure you've seen all 46 episodes many times, but they're still fun every time every time you binge watch. Under the guidance of Terry Pratchett himself, these long conversations and cutscenes bear his trademark wit, making the mundane out of the magical. Playing through the game is a joy even if you do peek at a guide every now and then. This is only becomes a problem if you don't love Pratchett (and who doesn't?).
On the plus side, the graphics bring the fantasy world to life with a great VGA art style. The voice acting is also of the highest quality, with some well known British comedians bringing the dialogue hilariously to life. These include such famous names as as Eric Idle (Monty Python), Rob Brydom (The Trip), Jon Pertwee (Dr Who), Kate Robbins (Spitting Image) and Tony Robinson (Black Adder).
Despite all of these flaws - and to some they are potentially game-ruining - I cannot help but love this game. And that is almost entirely down to Terry Pratchett himself. The plot is loosely based on the eighth novel in the Discworld universe, Guards! Guards!, telling the tale of a shadowy yet incompetent dragon worshipping cult who manage to summon an imaginary dragon that in the minds of many is all too real.
This game, on the other hand, contains an octopus. Automatic win.
Does this game equal the writings of the late Terry Pratchett? Are its many charms enough to overcome its many flaws? Download the game to find out and let me know in the comments.
If, like me, you are saddened by the loss of this one-of-a-kind man, a page has been set up where you can donate to the Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) in his name. Visit this page to give as much as you can.
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.
Version 2 - Improved installer. Added official guide.
Discworld (the game) is © Perfect 10 Entertainment
Discworld (the universe) is © Terry Pratchett
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me