My mind's full of ancient Chinese proverbs this month, and here's another one spoken by the great Confucious himself - Jack Rockerby make exceedingly fine games. It shows how long Jack's been around, and is absolutely true.
The latest of his games is Into The Mystic. The idea's been used before, that you live in a land where the magic has suddenly disappeared, which takes all the fun out of life. The Privy Council have held a meeting, presumably in the privy, and guess who they've elected to go looking for the missing magic? Wrong! Not you, you berk, but Merlin the magician. And so the adventure never begins and that's the end, goodbye.
Oops, my mistake. Merlin decided to find some other mug to go off on this little errand, and that's where you, the trembling YS reader, step in. Off you go, dressed in your sandals and smock, and very nice you look too.
The game's text-only and begins with you in the forest, with some sleeping orcs in the very next location. River Software regulars will remember a sleeping orc from an earlier game, and they can be very nasty when woken up (just like our Ed after his afternoon nap. Not a pretty sight). Don't go blundering into them then, but examine them from a distance and head off in the opposite direction.
This brings you to a castle courtyard, and a room with a barrel in it, and stiff hinges on the door. Now, a door with stiff hinges usually requires opening, but this one's already open. A plan takes shape in the adventurer's mind. What does he need? Oil, of course. And what was floating in the moat as we entered the castle? A patch of oil. Righty-ho, just go and figure out some way of... what's this... feeling drowsy... throbbing head... been at the old tequila again? Whoops, I'm deaded, killed off by the noxious fumes in the courtyard that I'd been pretending weren't there.
Heading in the only other direction leads to a forest, where you might find a very handy garment. It's a magician's cloak, that turns inside out to become a monk's habit. A wonderful object. The bad news is that the forest's full of thieves. So, orcs on way, thieves another, noxious fumes elsewhere. Nowhere to go. What a short adventure this ws!
Fear not, the answer's there somewhere, and a cunning on it is too. Just as well then that the accompanying sheet gives you a list of verbs the game understands. Read these carefully for clues, as there are some less than common words life SIFT and SQUEEZE. There's also the usual plethora (this month's good word) of handy commands, like RAMSAVE, X for EXAMINE, A for AGAIN to repeat the last input, GET ALL FROM CONTAINER and the rest of the flash PAWS features.
Into The Mystic is, of course, immaculately presented, like all of River's games. The author's an old hand now at writing adventures, and comes up with some new, intriguing problems. I like the building whose door you have to unlock, except that the key to the door is inside the building! And as for how you catch a toad... well, I think you'll need your wits about you, so while almost anyone will enjoy the game, I wouldn't recommend it as your very first adventure. As Confucius also said - Liver Software, bruddy good, ah-so!