Ready for an adventure game that will engladden you with every puzzle? Or maybe you're in the mood for a little princess saving, dragon slaying, ghost-costume-wearing fun? Either way, The Fool has got you covered. And then some! The Fool is a perfect example of what a casual adventure game should be: smart, funny, filled with puzzles, and just the right number of diversions to keep things from going too silent. All wrapped in a deliciously tongue-in-cheek fantasy setting.
A fierce dragon is terrorizing the kingdom, burninating everything it sees and turning entire villages into charcoal. The king is pretty much fed up with that, so he sets an enticing bounty. To the knight that slays the dragon and brings a tooth as proof of a deed done, he will give his daughter's hand in marriage along with a hefty portion of land. Many brave soldiers have perished in the attempt, but then a boy with a stick ambulates over the hills. He'd have to be some kind of fool to undertake this quest, wouldn't he?
The Fool is built like a casual adventure game, with exploration, item gathering, and puzzle solving taking center stage, while mini-games and hidden object scenes come at a distant second. The mouse is all you need to play, and you can count on the cursor to show you things you can examine, interact with, or walk to. The inventory at the bottom stores key items you'll pick up during your journey, and to use them, all you have to do is click and click again!
Each small area you're turned loose in has a number of puzzles you have to solve in order to proceed. All the items you need are within a few screens of each other, but you'll have to travel back and forth several times to gather what you need. The hint system only works inside the hidden object scenes, but if you ever get stuck, just revisit an old area and look at the environment more closely. Chances are, you missed something!
The hidden object scenes aren't too numerous, and they're exactly the right length and difficulty. Twelve items per scene, and there's always at least one "riddle" item to find. For example, a clue on the list might say "basket full of apples". You can see a basket, you can see some apples, so why not click the apples, drop them in the basket, and make the very item you were looking for? Each one of these brings a grin to your face, especially the first one where you have to find "baked bread".
Unlike most casual adventure games, the mini-games in The Fool are worth talking about. You won't find the usual battery of letters to assemble piece by piece, bits of string you have to unwind, or jigsaw puzzles. Instead, this game is packed with unique mini-games that fit the jolly fantasy atmosphere very well. How about sliding squares to match a picture? Or solving a numbers problem to unlock a door? Some of them are quite challenging, but you can always hit the "skip" button at the bottom after it fills up.
Analysis: Oh, The Fool. Where have you been our whole casual adventure gaming life? To the seasoned retro adventure gamers out there, an experience like The Fool won't be unheard of. The game takes inspiration from the likes of King's Quest to construct its world, its characters, and, naturally, its light sense of humor. The Fool never takes itself too seriously, which, combined with smart design choices from developer MagicIndie (creators of Adventures of Robinson Crusoe), is why it turns in to such a brilliant gaming experience.
The setting and atmosphere take a huge leap forward in terms of quality for casual adventure games, and you won't be disappointed by any aspect of the game's story. It's not because the plot is so original and well-written that your brain will explode from the newness. It's because The Fool takes a familiar concept, adds a bit of humor, and draws upon parody and lightheartedness to entertain. Not allowed to dig in the cemetery? Why not find a digging permit? Need mandragora root but all you have are mandragora seeds? Bet that "quick gro" potion will come in handy!
Drawbacks? Caveats? Warning signposts? Nothing! If you don't mind revisiting a few hidden object scenes several minutes after you've completed them (with new items to find, of course), backtracking doesn't bother you, and you don't want your hand to be held at every decision in the game, The Fool is the perfect casual adventure/hidden object game for you. Seriously, you'd be a fool not to play it. (Or would you accept 'I pity the fool that doesn't play this game?')