Discworld II: Mortality Bytes
In the second interactive game foray into Terry Pratchett's Discworld, Rincewind, the deputy Librarian at the Unseen University and second-rate wizard, is once again drawn into trouble. While stumbling home with his drinking buddy (the University Librarian who was long ago changed into an ape as a result of working around magical tomes), Rincewind happens upon a large bomb strapped to a donkey cart. Despite his ale-addled condition, he decides he is perfectly capable of defusing the explosive. Unfortunately, his bomb-defusing skills are not up to par, and although he and the Librarian are able to dash out of the way in time, Death was not so lucky. So, instead of snatching away a soon-to-be deceased soul, he's blasted to a sandy beach where he decides to take a holiday from his job. With the Grim Reaper out of action, the recently deceased have no place to go, so they begin to roam the streets, irritating the living inhabitants of the city of Ankh-Morpork.
Accompanied by his luggage (a multilegged, temperamental, bottomless suitcase), Rincewind must solve this horrible problem by first discovering what has gone wrong and then figuring out what to do about it.
Controls & Gameplay
The controls in Discworld II are essentially the same as any other graphical adventure game. You control Rincewind, moving him around and interacting with the environment by moving the mouse cursor (which drips sparkles across the screen). One problem is that it can be difficult to figure out which way you can go. There is no indication at the sides of the screen (such as an arrow) whether a direction is accessible, so it can be easy to miss an entire section of the landscape.
Objects and characters with which you can interact are indicated by words which appear next to the cursor -- for example, if you put the cursor over the candles the word "Candles" will appear -- very simple and easy to use. Items that you pick up can be placed either in Rincewind's pockets or into the luggage for use later.
To talk to other characters, double-click on them. You will be presented with a series of icons indicating a variety of forms of discussion (e.g. greeting, question, sarcasm, or specific items you can ask the character about). Try everything each time you meet someone; you can gain clues that way and the responses you get are hilarious.
The cartoonish graphics in Discworld II are consistent with the zany gameplay and comedic dialogue. Interspersed throughout are brief (and sometimes not so brief) animated video sequences. The animation and backgrounds are wonderfully drawn and the motion runs relatively smoothly (there was some choppiness on my system, especially during the introductory animation, but I was running it on a machine with the minimum requirements).
The music and sound effects in Discworld II are fantastic. The soundtrack blends hilarious songs with a top-notch score that adds to the whole experience, and the sound effects are also done well. In addition to the usual cartoon-like booms, bonks, and whistles, Discworld II includes the vocal talents of Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame) reprising his role from the original Discworld game as the voice for the cynical (and cowardly) Rincewind. Every character (and there are many) is distinctive, and most of the voice-overs are easy to understand, if occasionally annoying. This is important, as dialogue is a huge part of the game.
Required: 486DX/4 100 or faster, 256-color SVGA display, 2X CD-ROM drive, 16 MB RAM, MS-DOS 6.0 or higher or Windows 95, mouse, sound card
Recommended: Pentium 75 or faster, 4X CD-ROM drive
The documentation is hilarious and worth the read, especially if you have never read the Discworld books. It does a wonderful job of outlining the basic mythology behind Terry Pratchett's series, giving the reader a brief overview of everything from the diverse population to a description of the Discworld itself. Do not ignore the footnotes, as they are the funniest part. The manual also lists the complete instructions for maneuvering the character and other options within the game.
With enhanced graphics, a humorous storyline and a similar style of gameplay, Discworld II: Mortality Bytes is a must-have for fans of the original. If you are a fan of Terry Pratchett's work, you should already own this game; if you do not, go buy it now. It is a fun romp into the funny, quirky, familiar world of Rincewind and the Discworld universe. If you have never tried the original or do not like the Pratchett novels, you may not enjoy the long-winded conversations and quirky puzzles. Being a fan of the books, I liked this game quite a bit, even though I actually did become frustrated once or twice by the obscurity of some of the solutions.