I came to computer gaming rather late, and pretty much missed the
text adventure. So while I have plenty in my collection, including those
by Mr. Bates, there was no sense of old world nostalgia while playing
Thaumistry. An element of curiosity maybe, although I have played some
text-ish things, but I was not recalling those good old days hunched
over whatever system it was that ran these games.
Mr. Bates though was integral to that era, designing and writing
games for Infocom and then co-founding Legend Entertainment. He has been
active in the industry (and related activity) ever since (check out his
website if you want more info). As far as I am aware though, this is his
first text adventure since those early days.
Apart from maps which you can open top right of screen, Thaumistry is
pure text. No sounds, other than the keyboard clicking, no graphics
other than the maps. Type an instruction, get a response, read along and
do it again.
Classic text adventuring, except some googling indicates that, for a
range of reasons, Thaumistry is a whole lot more accessible than many
such games. The constraints of memory (the PCís not mine) are no
longer an issue, meaning far more complicated instructions can be
entered and managed, and a whole lot more in the way of responses can
result. Vocabulary too is much larger, resulting in synonyms generating
There is also a hint system which nudges you at first and then warns
you of more direct answers, the ability to play using either compass
directions or alternatively left, right etc, and a useful recap command
that does what it says each time you re-enter the game.
Thaumistry tells the story of Eric Knight, a child prodigy featured
at the age of 13 on the cover of Invent! Magazine for his invention of
an anti-stain chemical treatment, but now an almost has-been. The game
commences with the reading of a letter giving him a day to prove his
latest invention works, or else he must vacate his laboratory space.
Then Jack shows up, a self-confessed Bodger, an ancient society of
people through whom magic flows into the world. They spend their lives
altruistically making small things go wrong in order to make big things
go right. Assuming of course they know what they are, and donít just
see themselves as accident prone, forever dodging mishap bullets. Jack
thinks Eric might be one.
You might in fact be one too. Check out the very helpful ďSo Youíre
A Bodger? All You Need To KnowĒ pamphlet that comes in the form of
a cyber-feelie accompanying the game to find out. Feelies were those
awesome bits and pieces that came in the game boxes and added another
layer of fun (a newspaper perhaps, or an invitation to a party, a badge
maybe or even a microscopic space fleet). You can download the ones for
Thaumistry for free, including an extract from the Invent! Magazine
interview with Eric, and instructions on making a tinfoil hat.
If you are indeed a Bodger, you may find the tasks to attend to that
much easier. Start with getting the key to the closet which Jack has
taped to the roof, and learning about spells. Then itís off to deal
with imminent danger. What sort, and how it is met, you can find out for
yourself, and I suggest that you do. It is a lot of whimsical, raucous
Jack is both a guide, especially early on, and a companion. He helps
you settle into the game, explaining about spells, and setting out your
Just about anything can be examined, and generally more than once. By
which I mean you will often get a different and often witty response
should you do so. You donít have to, but itís worth trying.
Ditto the people you meet. There are many in the game, and quite a
few have their own backstory. Interrogating them through the commands
will reveal a wealth of information, much of it amusing, and much with a
social conscience. A lot of it isnít necessary to progress in the
game, but not to do so would mean missing a lot.
As well, perfunctory repeated responses are not the stock in trade.
Interactions may well be different as ďtimeĒ passes in the game.
This latter aspect is accentuated by the fact that much of what occurs
takes place in a museum, where certain rooms donít open until a
certain time of day, and in which the goings-on reflect different things
happening at different times throughout the day. It works quite well.
Then there are the spells. You have to accumulate them in your spell
book, which you do by exploring and listening and discovering, and then
you can cast them. I canít claim every spell has a puzzle solving
aspect (I confess I havenít yet finished the game) but many have often
humorous consequences, magnified by what or who you cast it on. You get
an early taste before you leave the laboratory.
And make sure you try xyzzy.
I confess to enjoying Thaumistry an awful lot. I canít wait to see
how it ends.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-6700 4GHz