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Impressions: The Book Of Living Magic

A typical evening in RPS's local.

I have been told to play The Book Of Living Magic by so many people. Even Jay of JayIsGames instructed me to do so. A point and click adventure embedded in a website, that has variously been described as charming and reminiscent of the joy of childhood books. So okay, okay, I took a look.

And did not like it.

Which has really thrown me. Recommendations from many who know, and a real desire for any game based on such themes, set me up to assume I was going into something great. But for some reason this one completely passed me by.

It’s cute. Hand drawn scenes, seemingly drawn in crayon/marker, really stretch the limits of “crudely drawn”. But for me don’t in any way evoke children’s drawings, which I suppose was the aim. Instead it looks like an adult doing a deliberately bad job. Your method of interaction is to talk to people, and then later click on them when you’ve been given an item. And that’s it.

The writing is extremely silly, and very lengthy – and all is written well. But again, it didn’t seem to be saying anything. Just long-winded nonsense and cod-fantasy names, with the occasional comment generating a scribbling sound which means you’ve unlocked another conversation option with someone else. There is no subtlety here either. For instance, the star, Raven Locks Smith, grows up in a town called Dull. Right.

What I did love was the amazing effort that had gone into writing a description for almost every detail on screen. Here the game had me. Silly jokes, daft remarks, for every doodle, mostly offering barmy non-sequiturs that made for fun and pointless pixel hunting. When faced with image after image of dozens of plant-like eyeballs, it’s a real treat that each of them has their own joke, whether it’s a pun, bizarre remark, or something genuinely surreal.

But then it was over and gave some sort of attempted heart-felt plea about the importance of my role in the Book Of Living Magic that I didn’t feel was at all earned.

I’m sorry, everyone. From the adoration it’s received by the right people, I guess this one’s just me. So definitely check it out and see where you fall.

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Who am I?

John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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