What is it?
"Fairy Tale", or "Fairy Tale About Father Frost,
Ivan and Nastya" to give it its complete title, is another point and
click adventure from Eastern Europe. The developers, Bohemia
Interactive Studio, are a Czech outfit, based in Prague. The
eponymous Tale is inspired by Russian folklore, and focuses on the
story of a young girl, Nastienka (Nastya), and a hero, Ivan.
The game is
described by the publisher, Cenega, as being suitable for 'Any child
able to switch on a computer' with parental assistance, but 'ideal
for children aged 6 years'. This seems to be reasonably accurate.
The game is not difficult to operate, nor overly complex in it's
puzzles, but I'd be very impressed by a child of 6 who can play the
Because this game
is aimed at people so much younger than me, I’ll once more be asking
Purple Bear (my 10-year old daughter) for some comments, in an
effort to overcome the old fogey effect.
Her comments are in bold
Is there a plot?
Yes. The Fairy Tale
is the stories of Nastienka and Ivan. Nastienka is a young girl who
has a new stepmother and stepsister to use and abuse her in classic
fairy story ways. Ivan is a young hero, leaving home in search of a
bride, learning humility along the way.
The two story
threads are nicely interleaved; we begin with Nastya before
switching to Ivan. They eventually meet, before diverging again to
continue their stories. The player must help Nastya to overcome her
overbearing stepmother, weak father, and annoying stepsister, and
help Ivan learn some degree of humility – he’s a particularly
obnoxious character to begin with. I don't want to give away any
more of the plot because it is about the only element in the game
that is surprising. I will say, though, that Father Frost doesn’t
appear until very late in the game – in retrospect, his inclusion in
the title is rather surprising!
I found the game fairly easy. The story
was interesting and different from other games I've played. The
game was not scary at all, and I think the story turned out right in
How do you play?
When you start the
game, you’re dropped straight into the beginning of the story; a
grandmother is telling a bedtime story to her grandchildren – this
element returns from time to time in the game as a break between the
four acts. Even to load an existing game, you have to hit the Escape
key to get to the menus. The menus are simple – New, Save and Load,
Options, Credits and Exit – what need is there for more? Options are
limited to subtitles, colour depth, special effects and sound
As I've already
said, we're dealing with a point-n-click adventure. It is played in
a full screen playing area, from the third person perspective, with
the mouse only. There is an extensive inventory of objects to use to
solve the puzzles in the game. Inventory items are changed by
activities; some puzzles require the combination of items. Puzzles
vary from knitting socks to extracting bears from fallen tree
stumps, from defeating robbers to escaping a fiery dragon. The
majority of puzzles are inventory based, but not exclusively.
The inventory is
shown on a pop-down, translucent bar across the top of the screen.
Most of the time, the inventory doesn’t get in the way, but there
were times it popped down when I didn’t want to see it.
It was fun to play two different people at different times in the
I like the bits where Squeaky the Bat was talking and the words were
upside down. The names of the characters were very unusual. But my
favourite parts were Baba Yaga's dancing, and the <way you get past
Human Misery was my
favourite character because she was so different from the other
Unusually, in my experience, the
manual for Fairy Tale is surprisingly informative! It is a slim
affair – a mere 6 pages of information, plus credits and space for
notes. However, once the author gets past the installation
instructions and the detailed description of the user interface,
there is a useful set of hints on adventure game playing strategy,
for example, “Think ‘game-like.’ Improvise. You don’t necessarily
use all the items you find for their primary purpose. For example, a
horseshoe can be used in various ways, such as throwing.”
Now the game doesn’t actually require you to
throw a horseshoe, but if granny just gave an 8-year old child this
game (it is suitable for 6 year olds, remember), and the parents
have no adventure game experience, consider how useful strategy
hints are going to be for all concerned! The same goes for the
detailed description of the user interface.
Okay, I’ve covered
some of the nicer features… now the downsides. The graphics and the
I know we all say
in those polls on the game factors, that the story is king, well
that may well be the case, but why are we still dealing with
animated games with characters that could have been drawn by a
high-school student, rather than a professional artist – and if they
weren’t drawn by a professional artist, but by a programmer in his
spare time, why didn’t the developers hire a professional artist?
Now the worst
factor: the voice acting. This was a real area of weakness. Most of
the characters sounded like they’d been instructed to impart the
opposite emotion into the lines than what was needed – or at best
that any old reading of the lines would do! I only hope that the
characters come over better in the original Czech. That’s a do-over,
guys – especially Nastya’s stepmother.
There is also a key
that Ivan has to retrieve early in his story, but there seemed to be
bug around this as a couple of times through the game, we couldn’t
find the key, despite solving the relevant puzzle.
I think that the menus were quite simple to use. The key bug was the
only really annoying bit.
The pictures were all quite flat, and even though they were quite
colourful the game looked boring. If I could change anything, I'd
change the graphics from 2D to 3D.
I didn't need much
help to play the game, except with the missing key problem and when
I couldn't find the pub in the town.
Any other novelties?
biggest novelty in this game is the use of Russian folklore as
inspiration. How many times have we been to Atlantis, Egypt, a
medieval land of fantasy, or Outer Space? Too many to count. But how
often have we seen a game set in rural Eastern Europe? It doesn’t
sound an exciting prospect, but in the context of this story, it
This game shows some promise. It has a
novel (apart from the troublesome stepmother) story, given the
current state of the art of adventure game writing. The interface is
reasonably solid – though it did hang a few times. But, and this is
a big but in my opinion, the game is severely let down by the voice
acting. I feel it is especially important to get this right with
games aimed at children because of the story telling aspect of the
The worst offence against gaming, however, was
the dire execution of the voice acting. I know an evil stepmother is
supposed to sound bad, but this one sounded like she’d had a stroke.
This is not really
a keeper, for me. I would never replay it.
say that most of the girls in my class would like the game, but not
the boys. Even though I finished the game, I think it was a bit
boring. I don’t want to play it again.
What do you need to play it?
Pentium 166 MHz
32 MB RAM
210 MB hard drive
2 MB graphic card
8X CDROM drive
(We used Win XP, AMD XP 2400+, 512 MB
RAM, and ATI Radeon 9000 Pro 128 AGP)
Pentium II 300 MHz
32 MB RAM
500 MB hard drive
4 MB graphic card
24X CDROM drive
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