So, it seems I’ve become B3’s go-to reviewer for regional point-and-click adventures. That’s absolutely fine by me (but if anyone sends me something Janner, I’m running for the hills and you won’t hear from me again). This time we’re going properly retro, with an eccentric trip through space that shuns more modern styles and difficulties.
This time, we’re playing Captain Disaster in: Death Has a Million Stomping Boots.
That hark back to the past is why we’re calling it time travel, rather than anything to do with the plot. Captain Disaster takes a level of puzzle-solving prowess far higher than any recent genre siblings I’ve played, putting it in line with old Sierra and LucasArts favourites and its art style is reminiscent of that same era. Not only that, but it’s so choc-a-block full of references and puns that for those sensitive to eye-rolling (which is apparently anyone watching me play), it’s a ten-a-minute cringe fest. But, it is fun.
When jumping into Captain Disaster, you get introduced to its characters and universe straight off the bat — an impressive feat for a universe so eclectic. Playing as a Brummie captain with serious hygiene issues and the help of a somewhat exasperated onboard computer, all you have to do is move a box from one planet to another. Simple, right?
Well, not really. After all, he’s called Captain Disaster for a reason. Your subsequent adventures take you around a colourful, but surprisingly well-regulated universe full of strange ten-eyed aliens, dancing robots and people who look like walking, talking noses. Puzzles aren’t the only things you’ll scratch your head over — questions like ‘Why is my pizza floating?’ and ‘How did a shark get in my fish tank?’ will also keep you thinking.
All of this is accompanied and encompassed by a veritable mountain of dialogue. While it does flesh out the story and bring the characters to life, I have been told it’s even more prevalent than in the LucasArts era. It does feel a little on the lengthy side, so perhaps some monologues could have done with being cut a bit, but the worst this does is make you read text-only and skip dialogue after a couple of paragraphs.
(There were also some all-too-common issues with radio protocol such as ‘over and out’ existing as a phrase and ‘roger, wilco’ being referred to as a callsign, but at this point I’m fairly certain that either a) it was meant as a parody of everyone else doing it wrong or b) it was an elaborate ploy by the people who built my computer to make me throw mine out of the window and buy a new one.)
This is a point-and-click, though, so we really ought to spend some time talking about the puzzles. They’re about as difficult, perhaps slightly less so, than you’d think its older inspirations would be. Some combinations are straightforward and overall puzzles can tax your brain to think up non-obvious links between items or objectives.
It can be a struggle in some cases, though, as at least one item is invisible until you use a not-often-used tool on a seemingly useless pile of dust. Some just seemed like they had one step too many, leaving you wondering why you had to crush the chocolate at all to smear it all over your hands. If things get too much for you, however, there is a full walkthrough online.
Generally, interactions were obvious and easy, though there were a couple of areas that felt like ‘pixel hunts’ and sometimes it felt like left and right clicks were swapped, with the wrong clicks carrying out looking and interacting. A few people on its website claimed to have difficulty navigating around screen borders in the market, not realising there even was a border, but I only encountered this problem on board ship, where I didn’t realise I could leave the cockpit.
Captain Disaster turned out to be an incredibly in-depth adventure with a world more vivid than we imagined from first impressions. It is difficult, harking back to a similar era of games, but you’ll find yourself motivated to carry on by the sheer litany of puns and references. If you’re looking for a challenge and a quirky story to boot, this may be worth checking out.