Classic adventure game developer Bob Bates returns with his new comic sci-fi/fantasy text adventure Thaumistry: In Charm’s Way.
Despite having covered quite a few text adventure releases like Eric the Unready or Spellcasting 1+2+3, the genre still hasn’t received the attention it deserves in the grand scheme of gaming history. Bob Bates is one of those people one should know, as he started out with Infocom that did the Zork games and was later involved in Legend Entertainment titles that were just as influential. He rightly received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Game Developers Association and was selected as the IGDA’s 2010 Person of the Year. So it’s clear that his newest work shouldn’t go unnoticed, as can already be seen in the tongue-in-cheek trailer with the adventure game stars Al Lowe and Tim Schafer.
Thaumistry: In Charm’s Way is one of those rare cases of adventure games where the story premise itself is already enough to pique people’s interest. It’s about Eric Knight who only invented an anti-stain chemical treatment, but wasn’t very successful. Now living in New York, strange things are happening around him with everything he touches or passes by. Visited by a stranger who tells him that he’s a Bodger changes his life, as this sort of people can channel magic into the world, but it often ends up in catastrophes, so it’s up to him to learn how to cope with his ability and also stop another inventor who wants to see the end of the world with a thaumeter.
This all sounds wonderful and silly, and even if it’s old-school text adventure reading and solving puzzles, the game has been made with newcomers to the genre in mind as well. There’s a spoiler-free, context-sensitive hint system, an in-game map, even a screen reader-friendly (NVDA) option for visually-impaired players. Steam Cloud save games and an advanced parser additionally serve as a modern update of Interactive Fiction, while the Digital CyberFeelies are reminiscent of classic text adventures, too. The game is available now for PC and Android systems, but will also receive an iOS version soon.
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