If anyone should ponder the meaning of life, it's the anarchic members a British comedy troupe.
The sketches in Monty Python's Meaning of Life may appear less focussed or story-driven than their previous two efforts, but it's no less funny for it. In fact, fourteen years after the movie's cinematic run in 1983, 7th Level created an adventure game out of it that's much more of a game than their previous Python adaptations.
It begins much like you'd expect if you've played Quest for the Holy Grail or Complete Waste of Time. Skits are re-created in an interactive digital form with several highlighted points that will unleash a barrage of comedy on you when clicked on. The further you play, however, the overall objective of the game become clear - or at least as clear as something as nebulous as the meaning of life can be.
You initially have seven stages of life opened up to you, each focussing on a singular skit such as 'The Miracle of Birth' or 'Live Organ Transplants'. These follow them quite closely with a couple of inventory, logic or skill puzzles ultimately revealing a seeming random food item marking the stage's end. You can play these stages in any order you choose, but only upon playing 'Death' do you realise that these food items make up the ingredients for Salmon Mousse. Other than this each of life's stages are entirely self-contained.
Tracing that incision is one hell of a task whether using a sickle or a chainsaw (left).
A balancing game to feed Mr. Creosote. That last dish is a wafer-thin mint (right).
It's mostly fun getting to the end of Death's sequence, barring a number of hideously fiddly join-the-dots puzzles in 'Live Organ Transplants'. You have to choose a sharp instrument from a selection, then follow the dots on a patients stomach. Slip up and blood will cover the screen forcing you to wipe it away before trying again. This was one of the most difficult sections of the game and one so annoying even the great humour can't redeem it. Beyond the Monty Python comedy - some of which has been created specifically for this game with all surviving members returning - there isn't really anything here you've not seen before. That is until you get beyond life's stages and onto life's goals.
According to the Pythons, the goals in life can be categorised into three distinct categories; Material, Spiritual and Dental. The first two are very similar, though what you do in them varies dramatically. You'll have to complete both of these before you can see anything in Dental. The gameplay here is much more of a traditional adventure, with cause and effect leading to different locations and an inventory-based puzzle system. There's even a dreaded maze in there, though it's not nearly as painful as it could be.
You can access your inventory using the icon at the bottom or right-click to scroll through them (left).
Can you find the Baron Munchausen figures hidden in the third act? (right)
The throughline is still very much philosophical by way of farce with random moments bringing the laughs. Most of them are entirely new scenarios while classic characters like The Bishop or the Spanish Inquisition cropping up. To keep the link to the movie, there are also some moments involving Crimson Permanent - the Terry Gilliam directed short that opened the movie. Underneath the anarchic dadaism, there are some deep philosophical moments to be had. One such moment involves you ripping up native settlements to build churches and temples before doing the same to them for a number of dull buildings holding a variety of insurance companies.
After the Goals of Life, comes the Cottage of Life. A quaint abode in which resides an obvious hoarder. Books, ornaments and a surprising number of dolls are strewn across the home, most of which contain clues of how to progress. This section is even more gamey than the last, with more logic behind the still-surreal puzzles where finding their answers through visual or audible clues being just as important as the puzzle themselves. For example, there's a traditional sliding puzzle on one of the bookshelves, but completing it won't do anything. Behind each pile is a set of boobs taken from a variety of sources, both artistic and saucy. You have to press these in a certain order gleamed from one of the books nearby.
Between every screen is a morality question that affects the end-game. It will display an intermission if you've
answered them all (left). It appears every 90s comedy game has a variant of You Don't Know Jack (right).
The downside is that there are a load of game-breaking bugs that may or may not crop up in your playthrough. So much, in fact, that 7th Level implemented cheats deliberately to combat them. While auto-completing that liver transplant surgery is welcome, entering a code to give you some important items you forgot to pick up so you can actually continue is a step too far. It's very easy to get to that section without them and you cannot go back either. Poor programming in my opinion. The last section is also replete with them too, though I was lucky enough to not encounter them. I recommend grabbing the walkthrough on GameFAQs, not for the guide per se, but for the info on the bugs and how to bypass them without starting the game over.
Despite this, there's still a surprising amount of quality content here. So much in fact that it would take more than one afternoon to fully complete the game. There's more gameplay than Holy Grail which, while great in its own right, is little more than a short animated storybook at heart. These two are also completable unlike Complete Waste of Time with its overly-obtuse objectives blindly hidden behind the collection of mini-games.
Monty Python's Meaning of Life may contain skits talking about life, the universe and everything but the answers they explore are much more complex than 42. Like the movie, the classic comedy on display makes the empty inconsequential void that is human existence much more palatable.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses PCem running Windows '95. Press Ctrl-Alt-PgDown to toggle fullscreen. Press Ctrl-End or middle mouse button to release the mouse. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting PCem. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Close the program only when it is safe to do so.
File Size: 992 Mb. Install Size: 1.30 Gb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
UPDATE - 02.03.2020
To download Version 2, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 running Windows '95. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting DOSBox. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Press Ctrl-F9 when it is safe to do so.
File Size: 0.99 Gb. Install Size: 1.29 Gb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Monty Python's Meaning of Life (The Game) is © 7th Level, Inc
Monty Python's Meaning of Life (The Movie) is © The National Film Trustee Company Ltd
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me