“Once upon a time, there was a murder.
In fact, 3 murders – well, technically, the victims are not quite dead, but in a land that prided itself on happily ever-afters, it was quite disturbing.
3 princesses who were set to participate in the upcoming Fairest Of Them All competition ate poisoned apples and fell into a magical slumber. Where did these apples come from? Who could do such a thing?”
After playing through a couple of difficult at-home games my brain needed a bit of a rest (and my ego needed a bit of a boost), so I grabbed the next installment of the lite-but-fun The FairyTale Files series from my shelf and gave it a go.
As with The Cinderella Murders, I found a fun, breezy game that I was able to play through over the course of my lunch break. Much like that installment, I found another gorgeously illustrated1George Grimmsbery making a welcome return! game experience, silky smooth puzzles, and an impressive technological implementation. Let’s dive in!
The story is set once again in Fairyland, a humorously written pastiche of the classic Grimm’s, Mother Goose, and Aesop fairy tales that we grew up with as kids, but re-imagined in the present. Here beauty pageants determine who is the fairest in the land, lonely royals are looking for their love matches on a dating app, and there’s a witchy customer service number available for when you inevitably mess up you spells. It’s a very fun, tongue-in-cheek experience, with whimsy and style to spare.
Like all Society of Curiosity experiences, the game is played primarily through an online chatbot. For this experience, the chat system is themed like a storybook, complete with a lovely storybook font. This theming allows the system to be a little more flexible than it would be otherwise. You primarily interact with (the excellently named) Maximillian ‘Maxi’ Lefloof, your counterpart that has his boots on the ground in Fairyland. The characters Maxi encounters along the adventure often pop into the chat to deliver their dialog, without requiring Maxi to deliver it for them. In a more serious game that might break the verisimilitude of the experience, but here it just reinforces the fairy tale storybook theme.
The game’s storybook-like experience is further strengthened by the selective use of professional-quality voice acting at pivotal moments in the story.
The very fun hint system from Cinderella returns here, thematically invokable at anytime by typing “Mirror Mirror” into the chat. (Game tip: The “Mirror Mirror” command also helpfully allows you to quickly access other commands that you pick up along the journey.) A hint system is often delivered as a separate mechanism, but the extra effort of integrating it within the theme and narrative really pays off here. Society of Curiosities has always had one of the best hint systems in the industry, and that trend continues here.
The puzzles in Poisoned Apples are tightly scripted and very smooth to play through. The game is very linear, Maxi will pose a question for you to solve. Once solved he’ll update you on what he found and pose the next question. This continues until you’ve solved the mystery and (hopefully) saved the day. The puzzle themselves are fun and fairly written with a difficulty level calibrated towards beginners. This is a game that you could easily play with a tween or teen.
There was one puzzle that unfortunately posed some color-related issues. It was a bit of a novel issue, I could distinguish the four colors from each other, but the experience wanted me to name what colors they were. I’d solved the puzzle otherwise, so I didn’t feel bad that I had to go to answer section for the solution, but it would have been nice if one of the earlier hints had given me the color names before it gave me the solution. (Or nicer yet, when Maximillian gives you the puzzle, he could describe the colored buttons.) Aside from that minor hiccup, there were no color issues for the rest of the game.
While The Curious Case of the Poisoned Apples wasn’t a particularly challenging experience, it was a lot of fun and gorgeous to look at. I’d recommend this game for anyone looking to play a puzzle game with their child(ren) or looking for a fun, stress-free experience to play in under an hour.
All four installments of The Fairytale Files series have been released and can be played in any order. If you’re not sure where to start, I’d recommend playing this before the slightly harder Cinderella Murders.