Imogen (Ovine By Design) Review | - Everygamegoing

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Imogen
By Ovine By Design
PC (Windows)

Imogen

Yes, it's another retro-themed PC game...! Imogen is a puzzle game in sixteen sections, originally released for the BBC Micro in 1987 and ported, some sixteen years later, to the PC. In the game you play a wizard who has begun to trouble the villagers by howling at the moon and insisting he is referred to by a girl's name. Their entirely reasonable reaction has been to seal him up in a warren of caves which can only be conquered by pure logic.

Released by Ovine By Design, who also wrote Exile 2: The Nameless, this new version of Imogen is a reimagining of the original; it retains all of the elements that had us all scratching our heads in bewilderment throughout 1987-1988 and updates the graphics, sound, colour and animation. It also introduces an "attract mode" which parades all the different cartoon characters featured in the game.

The game itself is a side-on, flick-screen platformer. You initially have control of the beardy-weirdy wizard, but you may use the cursor keys to transmogrify into either a cat or a monkey. The cat can jump the furthest, the monkey can climb the ropes and the wizard can hold and manipulate objects. A typical cave contains four screens in total, inhabited by a number of additional cartoon characters. For example, climb the ropes to collect a whip. Crack the whip at a dog to back it up into a corner allowing access to a room with a frog. Change into the cat to reach the frog, change into the wizard to pick it up, and squeeze its belly to open up the door to another screen.

This being a remake of the original game, the puzzles are identical and some of the frustrations of the original come with the package too. Firstly, the icon system. Flicking between Z, X and ENTER to operate whatever character you are, and remembering to use Cursor Left, Cursor Right and SPACE to highlight and select the desired animal is trickier than it at first seems. Secondly, the cat seems to suffer from a variable jump control; he jumps further with something of a run-up. This rather important feature - crucial to solving some of the puzzles! - hasn't made it to the instructions. Thirdly, the monkey climbs the ropes but does so is a non-intuitive way. You hold down the "fire" key to ascend them at one speed, whilst releasing it will cause him to fall at a faster, different speed. You also cannot change direction whilst jumping.

Some might argue that these frustrations are part of the game's "pull" factor, of course.

The game features very nice touches - the animation of Imogen being cast into his prison, and what happens when you click the "X" to quit it being just two of them. All told therefore, this is quite a remarkable remake - it has managed to retain all the features of the original whilst delivering a game that is modern and very appealing to all.

Dave E

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