Length - Short
Engine - AGS
Suitability Factors - N/A
Towel Day is the work of James 'Dualnames' Spanos, the man also responsible for the full Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy remake which is currently in development.
Having read the books, I found them brilliant in places, yet drab in others. As for Towel Day...I found it to be rather good throughout, even if there is some room for improvement.
It's important to mention first of all, that although certain references will pass you by if you are unfamiliar with the material, it is not absolutely imperative that you have read the books in order to get a kick out of this game. Whether you like it or not will far more likely depend on your sense of humour. For those who are familiar with the Hitchhikers Guide, well, you will feel right at home.
Another point it may be relevant to briefly discuss is whether this game is suitable for those who plan to read the books in the future. You don't want to ruin that experience right? As the game is based on the last four chapters of the original book, there is always the chance that you might retain some of the information from the game, however, in my opinion, the game is more likely to make you read the book a little sooner than it is to spoil things for you.
The game is setup with the player having the option to play as both of arguably the two most loved characters from the series, Arthur Dent, and Marvin, the paranoid android. The two characters are in separate areas and the player can switch between them at any point. Arthur is attempting to evade capture along with three of his 'pals', while Marvin is trying to speak to a spacecraft. The story does come across as slightly incoherent, perhaps because of the game's short length, although it is unlikely you will be primarily playing this game for it's story.
Instead, it is the game's humour that makes Towel Day an enjoyable experience. The description, dialogue, and narration, are a mixture of new material written by the developer, and lines taken from the book. The 'old' material is well placed (and as I understand it, used minimally), while the new stuff is funny and almost always manages to capture the Douglas Adams style and charm. There are some spelling and grammar mistakes, however surprisingly this doesn't too badly affect the immersion (and I'm really quite fussy on this issue). That said, there are some lines that appear lost in translation, and getting the text grammatically correct is still something I would recommend for the full length offering.
The visuals supplement the game's atmosphere just fine, although the outside location does look somewhat muddled. Character sprites appear a little squashed, and while this isn't a big problem, I can't help but feel it wouldn't require much work to greatly improve their look.
Music is slightly hit and miss. Marvin's background theme fits nicely enough and reminds me somewhat of music from 'Beneath a Steel Sky'. The music accompanying Arthur however seems too mellow and therefore fails to match the drama of the scene.
Gameplay is on the very easy side, with the few puzzles on offer solved mainly through conversing with other characters or by manipulating objects, all done using a simple verb-coin interface. Make sure to try every possible interaction, as failure to do so will mean you are missing out on dialog and text which are the best part of the game.
From the options menu it is possible to choose between two narrators, Slartibartfast, and Great Green Arklseizure. This makes only an aesthetic difference however, and it would have added a great replay value to the game if the comments given by each narrator were different. Perhaps if one showed a greater disdain for the characters than the other? This is perhaps a slight opportunity missed, especially with the game being so short.
Not attempting to solve the first puzzle straight away will prolong Towel Day a little, as the game is cleverly scripted to fire new dialogue at you during the first scene if you do not immediately find the solution. If you wait too long you will be killed, but experiencing the extra conversation is definitely worth the small possible inconvenience of restarting your game at the end of it.
Despite the game's short length, Towel Day is still very worthy of your time. The problems I have mentioned throughout the review are only minor nuances that really wouldn't take alot of fixing for the full remake. The visuals only need tweaking, the gameplay perhaps a little extra depth, and the spelling and grammar some extra proofing. The coherence of the story may require more thought although this is naturally a challenge because of the material it comes from being somewhat incoherent at times anyway. It would however be advantageous to be able to follow the plot more clearly.
So, with a full-length game in production, it will be interesting to see how Towel Day is built upon as the potential is undoubtedly there, even if this effort is a little rough around the edges. Furthermore, and rather importantly, the game provides what feels like an authentic journey into the world of Arthur Dent and his comrades. Therefore, if you have any fondness (real or potential) for the humour of the Hitchhiker's Guide, then you should certainly give Towel Day a chance. Doing so has certainly persuaded me to keep a much keener eye on the progress of the full-length offering.
- Great humour
- Feels like an authentic 'Hitchhiker's Guide' experience
- Very well presented
- Very short
- Story is arguably a little incoherent
- Some spelling and grammar issues
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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Towel Day