Back in the mid-nineties when point and click adventure games ruled the world there was a never ending supply of quirky games to take on. The Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchet was seen as a rich source from which to draw and develop something in the genre and three PC games were made. It brought a new audience to the books and many gamers who had never read a Discworld novel still played and enjoyed the game.
Players take control of the hapless wizard Rincewind (continually followed around by his walking luggage chest), as he is tasked with getting rid of a troublesome dragon. Voiced by Eric Idle you need to go around picking up objects and then using them to solve puzzles. Very obscure, logic defying, puzzles.
Looking back it’s amazing anyone ever finished the game without a guide as there are some unbelievable leaps of faith in there which could only realistically be solved though using everything you have in your inventory on everything else until something happens. There is at least a small mercy in the fact you can’t die
It’s testament to the games script though that despite the insane difficulty that the game is still incredibly enjoyable. The voice acting and humour keep the game afloat and there are lots of things to see and interact with which cause one liners or animations. The vocal talents of Tony Robinson, Rob Brydon, John Pertwee and Kate Robbins are also on show which keeps the dialogue at the highest quality.
In a strange way, playing with a guide doesn’t really detract too much from the experience. It will certainly lesson the frustration while allowing players to enjoy the beautifully drawn environments and humour on display. The biggest sin the game commits is a succession of tiny objects that players will need to find. The worm in the square, people’s pockets and the golden banana (hidden behind a characters ear and only visible when he turns his head for a split second), are by far the worst offenders and will require pixel by pixel scanning of the screen. How anyone found these things playing on small PC monitors is anyone’s guess. The first act of the game isn’t impossibly difficult but as soon as you get into act 2 you’ll be running for a guide almost straight away.
The other big offender is the world map. Some of the locations are so tiny that you will be very lucky to stumble upon them. The inn on the West side of the map and the Broken Drum pub were things I stumbled upon completely by accident as they inhabit a tiny square in the city. Realising the back alley continued past the elevator stone thing is also not exactly obvious.
When the puzzles aren’t being impossibly obscure they are actually pretty inventive and strong. If you can get your head around the logic they provide some real ‘eureka’ moments that few other point and click games can match. Getting the Dragons breath is a fairly simple but inventive exercise and my personal favourite is stealing the chefs pancake mid-flip so he leaves the kitchen to complain about wizards altering gravity.
Overall, Discworld is an exceptionally presented game which fans of the books will love. The graphics and voice work is top class and up there with the best in the genre. There are big downsides to the experience though with the impossible logic and difficult to find objects and locations. Don’t let that put you off though as this is a great adventure with tons of humour and things to see. If you find yourself pulling your hair out go to a guide, chances are there’s some tiny thing you’ve missed. It’ll make the whole thing seem so much better and when the game is good there’s nothing else that can match it.