By John Walker on April 8th, 2010 at 1:06 am.
The original version of the game is now being called the Prelude, with this new game titled Act 1. Confusingly, both have the same intro scenes. The format is much the same: you are a Victorian scientist who discovers plans for a mysterious machine that can decode secrets. But oh no! Evil mechanical bugs want to steal your secrets, and the machine only works when you’re ‘talking’ to it. (Rather brilliantly, the game is entirely aware that its own central premise is nonsense. There’s a lovely message that appears if you try to spend all your ‘secrets’, which is worth finding.)
This translates to your needing to furiously type in words, preventing the bugs from reaching your secrets and making off with them. As you type a chamber at the bottom of the screen offers letters you can choose to include in your words. Doing so improves the power of the attack, with special letters offering more powerful results. Each time you use all the letters present you unlock another chamber, until all eight are open and you’re challenged to think of a word that includes as many of them as possible.
As I said before, the freedom of being able to type in literally any word at all can be paralysing. The more letters in the chambers, the easier I find it, it seems. My brain is much more capable of thinking of a 12 letter word containing seven present letters, than it is trying to think of any word at all with simply “N” as a prompt. N… N… Um… “Nut”?
The between-level areas are much improved. The boiler-room now is better laid out, removing the extremely confusing system of dragging letters back and forth. Now you can get new bonus letters (perhaps an S that sets things on fire when used, or an M that freezes bugs) which are purchased by spending your Secrets, gained each level. There’s a limited number of letters you can have in the boiler at any time, and it’s only these letters that show up in the game, but that number is huge and you can have an enormous range.
Also improved is the payment system. Gone are the silly micropayments for particular letters, replaced with a much more sensible shareware-style game. You can play the first half for free online, or download the game and play it fullscreen, offline, all for free. There’s also some new minigames for good measure. Then if you want the second half, and new special letter types, you can pay for it. Although just now I cannot see how much – we’ve got in touch with Gabob to find out. Edit: We’ve been told it’s $12.99 USD or 10.99 Euro.