December 6, 2012 6:00 PM | Staff
[Guest reviewer Colin Brown profiles each game in the Winter Bundle available now on IndieGames' co-created site Indie Royale.]
mif2000's Hamlet, otherwise known in full as Hamlet or the last game without MMORPG features, shaders and product placement, is quite a mouthful. It certainly sticks to its word, though, as I found nary a tweet button or DLC offer in sight. But of course, talking about what a game doesn't do is a poor substitute for discussing what it does do. So what exactly is Hamlet besides a bold stand against the perils of modern gaming? Well, it's a pretty loose adaptation of Shakespeare's play pocketed with short adventure puzzle vignettes and thoroughly enhanced with the addition of time travel.
A little man with a lightbulb on his head travels through time and crushes Hamlet by mistake. Not wanting to risk a paradox, and already on thin ice for time travelling into a fictional story, the little fellow takes Hamlet's place and must rescue the fair Ophelia from Claudius and his cronies. This takes the form of some very abstract puzzles, often based on tweaking the environment in very subtle ways. If nothing else, Hamlet delights in playing with genre conventions and adventure game expectations with some fairly clever and unexpected solutions.
Now, the actual puzzles can be a bit mixed at times. Most of the puzzles involved rather delightful eureka moments, completely challenging the puzzles you've come to expect from other, more traditional adventure games. Figuring out these puzzles was difficult, but incredibly rewarding, and it was rare to hit a total dead end thanks to the vague clues the game offers when stuck. Any adventure game I can look back on and point to genuinely innovative solutions is a win in my book. Others puzzles, though, were slightly less engaging, with annoying tropes like a maze puzzle and some challenging timing sections. Overall the good outweighs the bad, but the way mif2000 absolutely nails many of the puzzles makes the few so-so segments stand out.
But I really can't fault a game with a boss battle against Claudius rocking out to some heavy metal riffs. It may not be the most faithful of adaptions, but the absolutely delightful artwork and anachronistic features make for an incredibly amusing adventure. I'd rather not spoil some of the more outlandish additions (the kraken battle is a particular winner for me), but the absurdist streak in this adaptation makes for a clever and funny premise. It's rather short, of course, but Hamlet is a great example of an adventure game that thinks outside of the box.
[Hamlet, Greed Corp, Bit.Trip Runner, Conquest of Elysium 3, Leave Home, and They Breathe are available in the Winter Bundle now at Indie Royale.]