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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.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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