Fairy Tale: About Father Frost, Ivan, and Nastya

2000 Bohemia Interactive
Designed by Jan Kraml
Reviewed 2004 August 9

Rating -5 Linearity wide, segmented
Reasonability reasonable Connectivity moderate
Difficulty pedestrian Relevance strong
Interface 3rd paned simple Real-time none

Nastyenka is a Cinderella-like character, oppressed by a domineering stepmother and an annoying stepsister. Ivan is a conceited farm-boy setting out for adventure. This is the story of how they find each other, and how Ivan becomes worthy of Nastya. Father Frost, the spirit of winter, puts in an important cameo appearance.

The game has four chapters; you play two chapters as Nastya and two as Ivan. Nastya is the standard fairy tale good girl. Playing as her, you must do chores for your stepmother, which end up requiring several side tasks. Ivan, however, is a jerk. This makes playing him a bit interesting, since the games requires that you act like a jerk, doing as Ivan's character suggests.

The non-player characters are a bit unusual, displaying a bit more of an ambivalent morality than is usual for an adventure game supporting cast. They're not more fully developed than usual, but developed into a different direction than is usual. Along with some unusual story elements, this gives the game a bit of an exotic appeal, something different from the common western European and Greek fairy tale traditions.

The challenges are not difficult, but they are involving, requiring that you explore the game world and think about how things interact. A fair bit of running around is required to find the next object or next dialogue element needed to advance the plot. A few challenges seem bizarre, lacking reason, and I suspect that some of these rely upon a cultural tradition unknown to me.

Three of the four chapters are fairly linear, with the other, largest chapter having a wide structure. The pacing of the story, via the challenges, is very good. Plot development is continuous, and new parts of the game world are presented in the different chapters.

Despite all this, the game feels a bit flat. While there's lots to accomplish, much of it doesn't seem important to the main story. This is mostly in the Nastya segments, where the action is too concerned with doing chores for your stepmother. Father Frost should be a major fantasy character in the tale, but he only puts in a cameo appearance in the final chapter.

The presentation is an old fashioned (for adventure games) cartoon style. It's functional, but not impressive. It uses a flat palette, and lacks the level of detail needed to wow contemporary eyes. The translation was often weak, especially in the subtitles.

Fairy Tale isn't a bad game, but it lacks any punch that would make it interesting. The graphics are a bit too crude, the story wallows in the mundane rather than moving into the fantastic, and the challenges are too simple to be noticed.

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.
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.