Alias 'The Magpie'

J. J. Guest (2018)

Blurb: Sir Rodney Playfair, gentleman thief, has a simple plan: impersonate a psychiatrist, infiltrate a country house, steal a priceless Egyptian scarab and make it back to London in time for cocktails. All in a day's work for the illustrious 'Magpie'.

In this game you play Sir Rodney Playfair, gentleman thief. Also known as 'The Magpie'. You find yourself in a large estate, with lots of rooms to explore, along with a little bit of direction. It took me over an hour to take in all the rooms, the game is verbose, and in my exploring I found several NPCs, but few of the objects I needed to progress the game. Things are buried and hard to find because of all the text. I felt that there was so much reading that I didn't know what to focus on. I get this way if things aren't broken out and there's a lot of text to take in.

I read the ABOUT and it says the game can't be put into an unwinnable state. This can be a challenge for any author. When I first came across Major it shocked me. I wanted to explore the upstairs, but I ran into him. So about as quick as I could I went back upstairs to explore the area. After that I explored the game some more, checking out the backyard, trying to get a sense of what I was dealing with. The map the game comes with is just the house, there's more to the game. But after playing it for a bit, I was stuck. I didn't know what to do. This game comes with a walkthrough, I liked that, but when I looked at it it said I needed to ring a bell pretty early on in the game. So I went back to the room and saw that there was a bell there. A bell that I missed because of all the extra text from Major and myself thinking about how I wanted to explore the upper floor.

So I rang the bell, and nothing happened. I did it a few more times, then started going into other rooms trying to get the items ringing the bell should've brought me. But something was wrong. So I restarted, and followed the walkthrough. When I rang the bell the butler appeared with the tray and all. Before, when I tried ringing it, I found the butler setting the table. Putting down utensils and such. At this point an hour and forty-five minutes had gone by. I was essentially on turn 14 in a game that's big, needing to be played with in order to figure out all that was going on.

I'm not sure how to rate this. I never got that far in this game, but I have problems with big open games that have little direction. Your open-world interactive fictions like Make It Good or An Act of Murder. Great games, but I never could figure them out. But these games do well, and the author has put a lot into this one. 11 years in the making. And I'm gonna base it on playing 14 turns into it? That's a bit harsh on me, I did give the Lady the Scarab and that's how I knew where the key was and that I needed it. I will say after exploring the game it started to give me clues, but I just got off the rails early on and it killed it for me.

I did contact the author and he said that you can get the butler to deliver the tray, that he wasn't bugged, but that he also changed it in an update, that came out on October 6th, so the butler will deliver the tray whenever you pull the bell. So I'm glad it wasn't a bug, but I didn't have time to play with the game either.

Score: No Rating