Bet You’ll Have A Good Time: The Wager

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.

    • bigtoeohno says:

      One day the heavens will answer my call for a pirate mmo.

    • CMaster says:


      Err, I think there are quite a few of them
      Pirates of the Burning Sea, Pirates of the Caribbean and Puzzle Pirates all spring to mind.
      You might not like any of those, but still.

  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.

    • Jeremy says:

      You have to press the start button.

    • protobob says:

      Correction: All I get is the ‘Loading…’ image and nothing happens. I don’t even get to title.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      How odd… what are you running? The only similar issue I’ve heard of is someone having trouble running via a Mac in Windows mode.

    • Dozer says:

      Jeremy – if I’d been drinking beer, it would have come out of my nose.

      Edit: and you weren’t even joking??

    • protobob says:

      I’m running Win7 64 bit.

    • rayne117 says:

      Same problem here on W7 64. It just says “LOADING” in this little window, then it goes on forever. I click it once, bam, it crashes.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      Interesting – not sure what that could be since I’m running 64 bit Win7 on my laptop and it seems fine. I’ll try it on my other PC, but I’m not sure if that’s the root of the problem. We haven’t had many reports of this kind so far – in fact, just these two that I’m aware of.

    • rayne117 says:

      Mr. Surprising: Just wanted to give you a few more details, I downloaded the game from link to , which is the one that didn’t work, after downloading it from the second link in this article, it installed perfectly and I’m on the title screen listening to the great music as I type this.

      It looks like no words are appearing on any of the buttons or info panel screens: link to

    • SurprisedMan says:

      Ooh, that IS rather unusual. I’m not sure why the ludum dare version didn’t work but the latest version ought to be fine. I just did a fresh install of it on Win7 64 bit and I’m not having those menu problems. It seems as though it may be having trouble displaying the font, though. It is built into the game, but could you see what happens if you install these fonts and then try running the game?

      link to
      link to

      Let us know how you get on, if this fixes the issue, which seems to be rare, I put the solution up on the website.

  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.

    • fionny says:

      Aye shame just went to give it a go.

    • Cross says:

      Looks like they hadn’t counted on the hivemind swarming their site. :D

    • SurprisedMan says:

      Whoops. Sadly I’m at a gig and there is little I can do right now but I am going to try to get something going

    • Frank says:

      Hopefully, RPS will re-post this when a mirror’s up. I’m liable to forget about it by then, and so are you.

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, count me in the “want to try it out when it can be hosted again” crowd. Looks great. :D

  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…

    • Wilson says:

      Fantastic. Looking forward to playing it as soon as I get a free moment.

  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!