War Of The Words: 1931 – Scheherazade

There are a lot of words in 1931: Scheherazade, including an extra five in the title that I snipped off so as not to spill onto a second line. Doing that upsets the foundations of Castle Shotgun and once caused the banquet hall to shimmy into the wine cellar, upsetting a worn mahogany rack containing the rarest vintages known to man. The full title is 1931: Scheherazade at the Library of Pergamum and the game is an adventure with a lot of text, though not necessarily a text adventure, a sort of life management game set in a world of “occult horror” and “sweet romance”. It’s from Black Chicken, who made the bewilderingly massive Academagia, and it doesn’t measure its weight in graphics, but in words. 638,954 of them.

Like Kieron, I played Academagia and found that there were too many stats to decipher. It’s a hugely complex game, with all the appearance of a visual novel but the behind-the-scenes number crunching of a complex simulation. Scheherazade is most likely more of the same, although I haven’t been able to try it out yet. There was a time limited demo listed over the weekend but it’s been taken down due to “issues” and the team are preparing a new one. With a price tag just shy of twenty five dollars, I suspect that demo might be quite useful. With character designs that are, to me at least, actively off-putting, I reckon letting people get at all those words and details is probably a wise idea.

Scheherazade’s world certainly sounds more like my sort of thing than wizard school: globe-trotting, Romance (also romance) and high adventure in the skittering downslide of the Great Depression. It all seems a bit like Tintin has wandered into a lighter Lovecraftian world. If the complexity of Academagia is concentrated a little better, with concepts introduced gradually rather than dumped on the player during character generation, then there may well be a great deal of joy in those thousands upon thousands of words. I also find it hard not to smile a little when one of the selling points is “1,389 menus”. At least 246 of them are probably great menus.

Youngster-friendly, despite the occult horror, I must admit I find the whole idea of Scheherazade strangely appealing. Words, mystery, travel and choices. Those are good things to read about and to play with. If you know nothing about the probably workings of the game you could probably do worse than read Kieron’s thoughts on Academagia. Meanwhile, once a demo reappears or I discover a build of this new bewilderbook, I might well dip my brain in and see what it absorbs.


  1. battles_atlas says:

    The word count: an exciting new frontier in the quantification of game assessment. Expect Gove to take a strong interest.

    • The Random One says:

      “How many graphics does it have?”
      “Well, a word is worth 1,000 graphics, so, like, six million.”

      • Danny252 says:

        Surely the going rate is 1 graphic = 1000 words, leaving Academagia with a paltry 639 of them?

  2. razgon says:

    I wanted to love Acadamagica, I really did and at times, I actually did love it, but…there were so many small things lacking in the execution that it was really a shame because wow did they have the right idea. But the small text and some other issues conspired against the game mightily so thanks for the heads up!

    • LintMan says:

      Yes. So much potential, but with such shaky execution.

      I was curious so see if they improved things for their planned Academagia Year 2 follow-up, but there seems to be no word of it on their web site anymore. Anyone know what the status of that is?

  3. Shadowcat says:

    Doing that upsets the foundations of Castle Shotgun and once caused the banquet hall to shimmy into the wine cellar, upsetting a worn mahogany rack containing the rarest vintages known to man.

    Yet you must weigh that risk against the FACT that God puts on a Tim Berners-Lee mask and murders a member of your personal favourite species of baby mammal every time you reduce your titles to some arbitrary number of characters in the mistaken belief that this ensures the number of lines occupied by said titles is restricted to a known value.

  4. Berzee says:

    Re: Academagia, though it is still baffling and requires internet-consulting to get through properly, they *have* released about 15 patches/DLCs that help make a lot of stuff at least a little clearer than it was in the demo I played years ago. I still wouldn’t recommend it to people who said “ugh” after playing the demo, but I bought it and have been pretty fascinated/delighted with it so far. I can only play it when my mind is well-rested though ;) but after I do a “proper” good student run, I am going to try to play through it less conscientiously and attempt to have more thrilling adventures.

    May check this out when I’m done with that; hopefully they’ve gotten better at being complex without being totally obscure. =)

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      Hopefully I’ll be able to post some impressions next week, time permitting. I am intrigued as to what they’ve come up with and one of the claims seems to be ‘less confusion’.

      • Llewyn says:

        Seems to be? Doesn’t bode well if even the claims aren’t clear.

        • Premium User Badge

          Adam Smith says:

          put that one down to me being unclear – they don’t come right out and say “our last came was too confusing” but they do say this.

          Q. Is Scheherazade gameplay as difficult as Academagia?
          A. We don’t think so, so don’t be afraid to try it. If you have any worries and prefer a casual experience, we highly recommend playing on EASY level. We’ve had several first-time gamers try Scheherazade and their feedback was that it was pretty intuitive.

  5. caddyB says:

    Well, Academagia was great, the setting is really awesome and you can learn a lot about it.. well if you like reading.

    I’ll buy this later.

  6. wodin says:

    Not sure about playing a girl..yes I know that sounds bad but I always have difficulty relating to female protagonists in games.

    Still I love the premise of the game. I wish it had been more Cuthulu inspired and darker than what it appears to be. I looks more like a game for my 11 year old daughter. reminds of of that game about a school for girls my daughter used to play.

    • LukeNukem says:

      You do know girls are people too?

      • caddyB says:

        That’s totally not what he said.

        • LukeNukem says:

          Unless it is an RPG based around menstruation I fail to see the problem. Where’s Peter Molydeux when you need him?

          • Zerbin says:

            I often have the same problem. While I often enjoy playing games with female main characters, I just can’t see myself as that character. My gender identity is such that, instead of being that character, I am instead escorting that character through the game. Romance just tends to make it awkward, like someone hitting on your sister in front of you.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            It’s fascinating and sad how many male gamers can identify with murderers, soldiers, Victorian noblemen, wizards, space marines, albino monster-slayers, elves, minotaurs, lizard people, or bloody robots, but NEVER A WOMAN.

          • caddyB says:

            I’m not talking about anyone in this thread in particular, but too many times I have been ridiculed because of playing female characters in various games. That’s actually a good point to make.

          • Zerbin says:

            If it helps, I also have a hard time identifying with murderers (as I find the act of murder reprehensible and cannot fathom the simulation of it for amusement) or albino monster-slayers (I know, I know, I just couldn’t get into the Witcher, 1 or 2). I’ve only been a lizard person in Soul Calibur, and only for a few minutes, and though I’ve played many a Mega Man game, I am, again, escorting the character through the game. I find that mostly, while I enjoy all kinds of stories, even those that feature (gasp!) WOMEN, I just don’t inhabit characters that I cannot imagine myself as. But that’s just me.

          • Zerbin says:

            Really? I’ve never really encountered that before. I usually just pick the character that fits the kind of play style that I’m going for. Are you talking more tournament fighter style games, or RPG type things?
            (Just curious).

    • wodin says:

      Again I’m not sure why, of course I know girls are people, I just find it difficult to relate especially when a game has romance etc as part of it’s gameplay.

      Also I see no problem as such it being a girl protagonist, no problem at all. As I said I can’t even put my finger on why I shy away from games with a female lead. Maybe psychological.

      • Trevoresque says:

        I believe a solution to the “I’m a gentleman who can’t identify with lady protagonists” problem is to engage with lots of media featuring lady protagonists. Practice makes perfect.

        I think you’ll find ladies, on the whole, can easily identify with gentleman protagonists. I believe this is because such protagonists have long been more common, thus allowing girl-type humans to grow up with lots of practice embodying boy-type characters.

  7. leokhorn says:

    From what little I saw of the demo (before it was brought down), it’s rather well done when it comes to the interface and the background graphics (very stylized). I was much less enthused by the premise of playing a teenage(?) girl in what looks to be a pulp setting. Or rather, I was disappointed when the story and tasks ended up rather mundane.
    It also seems to possibly focus on female to male romances, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea (not mine).

    As for the gameplay, well… the demo stopped right when it started to get into the actual meat of it, so… I have no idea.

  8. zeekthegeek says:

    The weird Spoon-hosted timed demo didn’t give me enough time to get into it sadly, especially when I stepped out to the toilet without realizing it was a time-limited demo. The UI is certainly slick for something built in Ren’Py, and from what a clusterfuck Academagia’s was (You can play this in a window! Sorcery!)

  9. Geofferic says:

    … if only it didn’t have such awful, brain-numbing art. I would rather no art, or stick figures, or Dwarf Fortress.