There is something quite different about Corruption from all previous Magnetic Scrolls' adventures. It is not humorous (although it is not without humour) and it is set in the real world of high finance. But its main difference stems from the fact that it is a mystery story, and to complete it you must observe and interact with many of the characters in it, rather than solving object-manipulation puzzles.
Newly promoted to the management of Rogers and Rogers, you arrive at your office prompt at nine o' clock on a Monday morning, to be greeted by your senior partner, David Rogers. Somewhat miffed by the shabbiness of your new office, you start to settle in by finding your way about the place.
In an adjoining office sits Margaret, your secretary, at her typewriter.
Along the corridor is the office of William Hughes, the firm's lawyer, whilst your partner's office is downstairs, directly below your own.
The toilets in the place hardly comply with the Shops and Offices acts, and the sale of the ancient brass fittings might well pay for a complete refurbishment.
With your promotion came a BMW. It's a fine sight, down there in the basement car park - but not as fine as the Porsche parked next to it. Still, after a few years in this job, maybe?
Back at your desk, with little to do on your first day, you are idly thinking of the celebratory lunch you have booked with your wife at the nearby Le Monaco, when out of the blue, a hand is clapped on your shoulder and you're nicked! Before you've had time to think, you're up on a charge of insider dealer, with an incredible amount of evidence against you, and you're set for a longish stretch.
Knowing (of course) that you didn't do it, you restart the game, and set about discovering how you are being framed, in order to prevent it. The best way to do this is to play through a number of times, observing the movements of the characters. There are about thirty characters in all, and you can interact with about fifteen of them.
Where does David go when he dashes off in his car? What goes on at the meeting behind locked doors in the lawyer's office?
Is the tramp in the park up to no good? And that cleaning lady - funny, she goes in and out of offices, and up and down corridors, but never seems to actually clean anything. She couldn't be spying on you, could she?
Here is a mystery that is exciting to solve, but, cleverly as the interaction with the characters in it is implemented, the limitations of such a format show. It would, of course, be quite impossible to expect a wide range of ordinary conversations to be held with characters in any adventures, and in this one, the usual Magnetic Scrolls format of NAME, SPEECH is missing. You are limited to ASK or TELL character ABOUT something/someone. So many times I wanted to ask WHY, and couldn't, that I felt like screaming! Like ASK MARGARET WHY SHE WANT FOR A MEAL AT 11.00. Overall, the game has very much the same feel as the Infocom mysteries, like Suspect, although I found this plot to be far more interesting.
Another limitation of a mystery game, is what I can tell you about it! I could mention what I got up to in the Police Station - but I won't! I'd like to tell you what I did after I came out of hospital, but I can't, for I haven't - yet!
Corruption, thankfully, isn't played in real time, but each move takes one minute, and certain things happen at set times, every time you play. It's quite important to be in the right place when something important is happening, so that it doesn't go on behind your back. And when you have it sussed out, you are going to have to be really mean and unscrupulous to clear your name - so I'm told!
An adventure set in offices in the city, doesn't sound particularly exciting graphically, yet Magnetic Scrolls has made it so. Since the game revolves around people, it is people who feature heavily in the pictures, and the artists have done a terrific job, producing pictures every bit as good as those in Jinxter, but quite different.
With the package, you will get a map to help you find your way around. Don't be deceived by it - there's more places you can go than you are led to believe! You will also get a cassette. Don't try to insert in into your disk drive, not load it into your computer with a cassette player! It is an audio tape, containing a conversation relating to the frame up.
If you haven't got a suitable device in which to play it, Scrolls will happily exchange it for a typed transcript.
Here is a game that Magnetic Scrolls is not urging people to rush out and buy. They recognise that it is a completely different genre from their previous titles, and, whilst they hope their fans will like it, would prefer them to read reviews and think carefully whether or not it's their type of adventure before deciding. They feel some people could end up disappointed, which is the last thing they want.
So there you have it. If you like the sound of Corruption it should give you hours of enjoyable frustration. On the other hand, if you prefer more jokey and cryptic puzzles, you'll have to wait for their next title, Fish, coming very soon!
Magnetic Scrolls has broken the mould of its first three adventures, with an entirely different type of scenario. Keith Campbell went along to Chapel Court to find out all about it.
Magnetic Scrolls has gone up in the world, as I discovered after plodding all the way to the top of the building. With more staff, and more computers, their previous offices became too small for comfort and efficiency, so they hired bigger premises upstairs.
Equipped with running water ("The bloody landlord went on holiday for a month the day it started running!" fumed Anita Sinclair as we carefully skirted round the bowl on the floor catching the drips), the new offices are extremely spacious, and people no longer have to work in cramped conditions.
One thing that hasn't changed is the coffee. It's obligatory - the visitor, as well as the staff, is never without one. I'll swear that it is the stuff that all Magnetic Scrolls games are made of - perhaps one day they will get around to administering it intravenously.
Anita plonked two steaming mugs of the stuff on the desk as I sat down with Rob Steggles to have a first look at his new game.
Rob, you may remember, was the author of The Pawn, but a story further removed from the land of Kerovnia is difficult to imagine. This time, Rob has spun a tale of deceit and intrigue, in the more mundane setting of a broker's office in the City.
But what goes on there is not so mundane. "There's no way anyone will be able to play through this and complete it on the first time round," explained Rob.
This is because you discover different information according to which way you play things. The more you learn, the better idea you get of how to play it the next time around.
Rob is very pleased with his creation, which posed more problems than usual for Hugh the parser. But he agrees that it may not be everybody's cup of tea. Time will tell. Meanwhile, let's have a look at the game itself...