Bet You’ll Have A Good Time: The Wager

By John Walker on May 4th, 2011 at 2:23 pm.

Odds on favourite indie of the da... oh kill me.

Indie team Surprised Man got in touch with us yesterday to tell us about their new game, The Wager. Which is how I’ve spent most of the last couple of hours. I think you ought to do the same. Especially because it’s free. Taking bits of inspiration from Colonisation and Sid Meier’s Pirates, it’s a simple but detailed exploration game, as you attempt to chart islands and make more money than your arch rival, Sir Lester Marwood. I HATE Sir Lester Marwood!

Coo, it’s a lot of fun. Finding an island gives you the right to sell the land when you return to port, along with any treasures you may find along the way. A random map means it’s a new game each time, along with the randomly occurring events that pop up throughout. And how these are encountered is changed by other decisions you’ve made. So if you decide to invest a chunk of change in a bigger boat (the exact amount it costs changes each game) you’ll have that much deducted from your final total, but you’ll also have a better chance if you sail into a whirlpool. Is it worth the loss of crew to keep the cash? Also, do you want to keep a discovered incredibly foul-mouthed parrot around for the advantages he offers, even if it means crew members walk out?

That said, it’s all very simple too. One rather large issue is that the minimap isn’t saved with the game, meaning if you return later to a game in progress you’re met with a big black square. Grrr. In two plays through I saw a good deal of repetition, so I’m not sure how many more attempts would keep my interest. But both were enormously enjoyable, and I think that’s mostly down to the excellent writing. Exploring an island may yield a little adventure in text, perhaps being attacked by cannibals, or discovering dangerous tunnels. You’re also constantly berated by your opponent throughout the year. The descriptions are superb, and make the whole thing extremely charming. I particularly enjoyed the introduction of the parrot.

“Asking its name, the parrot replies, ‘Mr Crackers,’ taking a rare break from its usual string of insults. ‘The Wonder Parrot,’ it adds, and you decide that anything called Mr Crackers The Wonder Parrot can’t be all that bad.”

Surprised Man are Peter Silk and Kieran Walsh, who previously made March Of The Rorgers. Like that, The Wager was originally created as part of a Ludum Dare contest, and has since been developed into a full game. You can get the 72 hour version here, as well as the complete version.


« | »

, , , .


  1. Inigo says:

    Also, do you want to keep a discovered incredibly foul-mouthed parrot around for the advantages he offers, even if it means crew members walk out?

    Sailors offended by bad language?

  2. lhzr says:

    strange adventures on finite seas?

  3. jthmmdom says:

    Ohh exciting, another pirate game to play. After Merchants and Marauders this weekend I have been craving a good pirate game.

  4. Daniel Klein says:

    Why couldn’t his name be Manwood?

  5. nuh uh no way says:

    My experience thus far:

    Title screen: Great music.

    Contract screen: Hilariously written, great music.

    Map: Great music.


    I think good times are ahead of me

  6. protobob says:

    Title screen comes up and that’s it. Doesn’t work for me.

  7. Brian Rubin says:

    I just played one game of this and BOY is it fun. It very much does remind me of SAIS, in a good way. Thanks for the tip!

  8. SurprisedMan says:

    Thanks so much for the mention, guys. It really means a lot to us just starting out.

    We’ll definitely have a look into that map screen issue that you mentioned. It’s really useful to get all this feedback as we’ll be watching it carefully in the coming weeks to see where we can improve. As for the content, it’s all prepped and ready for us to add extra events and things to the game as we see fit. Since it’s been getting such a good response, I’m very keen to get some more content in there soon to make sure people have plenty of reason to keep playing!

    • The Tupper says:

      Can you put in a scene where I get to kick Lester Marwood in the chuckies?

    • Pani says:

      Thank you for such a great game! I had a lot of fun.

      My criticisms were the same as the above: the bug with the map not saving and I’m not sure there’s a huge amount of re-playability. I played it on easy mode and don’t really have a desire to play it on normal.

  9. Zarunil says:

    “Press Start”? Blasphemy, say I!

    Edit: are there only 4 upgrades?

  10. The Tupper says:

    Grubby Rob just bought it! NOOOO…GRUBBY ROB!

    PS: SurprisedMen – I like the game a lot. Shame about Grubby Rob though.

  11. frypiggy says:

    This looks to be a fantastic game. However, the 8-bit graphics are a bit hard on the eyes… especially on a 21″ monitor. If this game had a graphical face-lift… it’d be strong enough for a retail release. Keep up the good work!

  12. nuh uh no way says:

    Surprised Man, since you’re here and listening:

    Not all scrollable screens make use of the mouse wheel. That’s really the only thing close to a bug i’ve encountered. The game is great fun and I’d really enjoy something much more fleshed out!

  13. Psalms says:

    Sir Lester Marwood!?

    It’s only a reference to the greatest radio comedy of all time!

    *Goes listen to every episode of The Masterson Inheritance*

  14. Tomski says:

    Did anyone else notice the amusing license agreement:

    Covering our backs
    We’re almost entirely certain this game won’t ruin your computer, burn your house down and kill your pets, but you can’t blame us if it does.

    Messing With Our Stuff

    Most of the assets in our game, including the Lua scripts and settings files that power the gameplay are uncompressed and unencrypted. That means they’re ready for you to mess with in any way you see fit.

    We don’t mind if you do that; in fact we’d be quite curious about it. But do please bear in mind:

    1) If you break the game by doing this, you are a silly person.

    2) If you use this to make it easier for you to win the game you are a silly and bad person.

    3) If you use this in order to pass off a game as entirely your own work without giving us due credit, you are a silly, bad and smelly person.
    With that in mind, have fun!

  15. Wilson says:

    Aw, looks like their site couldn’t handle it. I want to try this out.

  16. destroy.all.monsters says:

    Apparently they’ve been RPSed.

  17. Andrigaar says:

    Title should have been “Wager you’ll have a good time”

  18. SurprisedMan says:

    Okay, we’re back in business! We have temporarily increased our bandwidth by some ridiculous amount. Consider us Surprised Men. Consider following us on Twitter (@surprisedman for general announcements, @kieranjwalsh and @surplusgamer for our personal stuff). That way, if this sort of thing ever happens again, we can sort you out, nudge nudge…

  19. Dr. Clockwork says:

    I really, really, REALLY enjoyed playing this!
    The writing is hilarious and well-done, and the concept is a lot of fun too! I think with some expansion it could easily be a game that could make money!

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>