Continuing its policy of only publishing adventures with a touch of class, Zenobi Software has smartly signed up Linda Wright, author of The Jade Stone, The Beast, Cloud 99 and several other spiffing little numbers from Marlin Games and Incentive Software. Here's her latest one - or latest two, as Agatha's Folly comes in two very different parts.
The tale begins with you buying your dream country cottage, though let's hope it doesn't turn into a nightmare once you hear what happened to the previous owner, the mysterious Agatha. She been missing for some time, presumed dead, and you'll hear all about her from some of the visitors who turn up on your first day in the cottage. Visitors like the grocery boy, who says Agatha was a weirdo, probably murdered, and he certainly wouldn't like to spend a night alone in Bluebell Cottage in case Agatha's ghost turns up. Yikes, as they say across the way in the ZERO offices.
At least the delivery lad leaves you some groceries to keep you going while you clean up the cottage. This is the one the estate agent described as "in need of modernisation", which roughly translated into English means it's a mess! Due to the inevitable mix-up with the delivery firm, your furniture won't arrive 'til tomorrow - this game definitely has the ring of truth about it! Still, some furniture was included with the cost of the cottage at its auction, so that's a start.
Not that you can get started on cleaning up, with this constant stream of visitors. Here I am, I've just gone into the bathroom when a woman arrives at the front door, introducing herself as Mary Parker, the neighbour. Bet she's known as Nosey. She describes Agatha as queer, since she spent all her life building her folly in the garden but would never let anyone see it. Kept babbling on about men from outer space too.
Little does Mary Parker know, but I've already unearthed some information about that. First in a hidden cupboard was a notepad, covered in child's handwriting. This tells of a man called Kaz, who claims to come from another world. Sounds like Krazy Kaz. The notes claim that he's funny (you can say that again). He's funny (oh, shut up). Kaz is a member of FIT and gave whoever wrote the note a parchment with some funny marks on it and a crystal, then he said he had to return soon and left the writer behind.
Elsewhere, after a root in the boot of my car and a bit of spit and polish, I found a journal, which read - Now mother is dead I'm free to leave... Tried at Stonehenge but they stopped me... Tried at Avebury but it didn't work... I think some stones are missing... Have decided to build my own circle... It's finished - not for the crystal... It's in place. Adventure, here I come!
Right, I'm just trying to get into the cellar when there's the sound of a car on the gravel. Another flaming visitor! I mutter my way back to the front door and think. Oh no, it's the estate agent. Who wants to see one of those at this time of night? Hang about, he's brought me a key which has 'CELLAR' written on it. How kind. Give it here. Now bog off.
Back at the cellar door, this is just the job. It unlocks the door, I carefully press the switch on the outside before going in (they can't fool me, I know it must be the cellar light) creep down the steps and... rats, it's pitch black. So that's what the estate agent meant when he said he hoped I'd got the generator to work.
Oh well, let's find the generator. Haven't been in the back garden yet. First, I'll just examine these bushes. Ah-ha, a gatepost! Must remember that. Into the mill house and what do you know, one generator. Read the notice - ENSURE THAT WHEEL IS TURNING THEN PULL LEVER TO START GENERATOR. Fine, and here's another sign saying PULL TO START so I'll just pull this ... hang about, how can I pull a hole in the ground where a lever ought to be? Botheration. Sudden thinks - the gatepost! Course, easy-peasy, just the job... so I toddle off to the garden and... the gatepost is embedded in concrete, impossible to remove. Rude words.
This is the kind of game in which you have to examine everything, and I do mean everything. It's written using PAWS, so lengthy inputs are possible and I recommend getting into the habit in each new location of reading every word of the text and entering a command like PLASTER, PAINT, STAIRS, GRIME AND RUG. In other words, examine everything that's mentioned, everywhere. And just because you've examined the wallpaper in 99% of places and drawn a blank, don't assume you can stop doing it. She's sneaky like that is Linda Wright. Pay attention to the response messages too. In one place you'll read about a beamed alcove. Right, EXAMINE BEAMS AND ALCOVE. Every word counts.
The combination of Linda Wright as author and Zenobi as publisher has come up with a real winner in Agatha's Folly. I was playing it for hours and lost all track of the time - definitely the sign of a good game. I also thought I was doing really well but discovered I'd still only scored 33/100. And that's only in Part One.
Part Two's called Marooned and I only got a glimpse of that because I was told what the password was. I'll only give you a glimpse too, as I don't want to spoil the surprises, but here at the start you're asked if you have come from the folly, and then you notice a middle-aged woman who turns out to be Agatha herself. Where are you? I'll leave that to you to find out, but it's the start of quite a whole other adventure, believe me! Two for the price of one - you're the one who'll be committing the folly if you don't buy this one.