Discworld 2: Missing, Presumed...?!

1996 Perfect Entertainment
Designed by Gregg Barnett
Reviewed 1997 June 14

Rating +3 Linearity wide, segmented, branching
Reasonability reasonable Connectivity moderate
Difficulty challenging Relevance strong
Interface 3rd paned simple Real-time minor

As in the first Discworld game by Teeny Weeny, you play Rincewind, the worst wizard on the Discworld. You unsuccessfully attempt to disarm an assassin's bomb: you survive, but Death -- the Grim Reaper -- takes the brunt of the blast. Death's absence soon leads to an unusually high number of zombies and ghosts, forcing the wizards to deal with the problem. You are chosen to gather the ingredients for a spell to summon Death, so the wizards can find out why he's not doing his job. After this, you must convince Death to return to work, and fill in for him for a bit, and even save him.

The characters are from Terry Pratchett's Discworld, a series of humourous fantasy novels. The game is broken into five acts which nicely creates a tempo for a strong, funny story. Each act consists of a collection of independent quests. The plot is advanced at the beginning and end of each act. The rich detail of the Discworld is filled as you quest hither and yon.

The lead voice (Rincewind) is again done by Monty Python's Eric Idle. There is frequent use of meta-humour (Rincewind complaining about being in an adventure game) which I feel was overdone. This, combined with a stronger Python influence, diminishes the Pratchett quality of humour. There are still many laughs to be had, but there are also many tedious stretches where the same basic joke is overplayed. There is a lot of dialogue in this game.

The challenges are all part of the story and of the Discworld. Unlike the previous game, the puzzles are actually soluble by means other than trial and error. In fact, in several instances Rincewind gives you direct hints. It's still not an easy game.

There is a good structure to the challenges. The quests in each act can usually be pursued parallel to each other. Objects may have several uses, and they are generally used in a natural way. There might be one or two questionable challenges, but there are also several clever "lateral thinking exercises".

The game is presented in third person, with the standard scrolling background. The backgrounds are nicely drawn cartoons, but I found the characters to be animated in too simple a style -- maybe I'm just spoiled by the Josh Kirby novel covers. The sound and music is well done, but there are a few places where I found it hard to make out the dialogue because it was drowned out by background sounds. The interface is the same as the previous Discworld: it's easy to use, but suffers from a single "use" action on objects.

Discworld 2 is a step backward and a step forward from its predecessor. The humour has less of Pratchett to it and is overplayed. The challenges are much improved. It's a good game for adventurers, but it's a worthy must-have game for Discworld fans.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

Solution by me.

Related reviews:

  • Discworld
  • Discworld Noir
    David Tanguay's Game Reviews
    Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.