It's the familiar RPG drill: a magical, mysterious entity taps the shoulder of a humble, non-hero to embark on a god-chosen quest to rescue a girl in trouble. Assuming the role of Edwin, you're transported through a fateful portal to face evils unbeknownst to the ordinary world and to complete your own Elf Story, a point-and-click adventure from Eric Posas of ESP Animation that is as much about supping up the viscerally animated details as the gameplay itself.
Incorporating elements of narrative adventures and action RPGs, Elf Story's only controls are a sometimes changing cursor which directs when and where you can click as well as the occasional tutorial guidance to prompt your actions. Begin your "Call to Adventure" in Edwin's bedroom and, after a multi-threaded dialogue with his spiritual guide, head out into the realm of danger with whatever weapons you have found, bought or traded for. Most the fun comes from discovering the goodness hidden in each scene. Explore carefully: because there is no backtracking, all discoveries must be accomplished at just the right moment or forever hold your peace. All of the challenge comes from figuring out just how to survive despite some nebulous battle mechanics with extremely precise timing and hot spots, making gameplay both simple and tricky.
While Elf Story is overflowing with gory sights and subtle parody, it's surprisingly short, ending suddenly after a few enemy encounters and an almost arbitrary boss battle against an ugly ogre. It also isn't a game for everyone—some will love it, some will send me hate mail for suggesting it. To those seeking a cohesive story, merry adventure and a user-friendly interface, here is a glistening puddle of frustration you'd do well to step over. But for those who love racking up awards for every success and fail, and who delight in discovering the many ways to kill or die in an oozing, bloody chaos of body parts, Elf Story is a deeply satisfying pool of entertainment into which you can dive and splash about happily.