healyg: (scheming)
[personal profile] healyg
For the next two weeks, I'll be going over games nominated for the 2015 XYZZY Awards that I haven't played yet. Expect a new review on Friday this week. For now, let's review tonight's game, Toby's Nose, by Chandler Groover.

In Toby's Nose, you play a dog. Specifically, you play as Sherlock Holmes's dog, Toby, at the summation of a tense case. Sherlock is counting on you to collar the murderer in the room. Can you sniff out the crook, or will you lose the scent? But seriously, the sense of smell is an important part of this game, to the point where the verb "smell" practically replaces ol' IF standby "examine". Smell one object in the text, and you'll find maybe a dozen more things to sniff in its description. Repeat until you have enough clues to arrest the murderer.

Toby's Nose was nominated for both Best Puzzles and Best Individual Puzzle in the XYZZYs, so let's talk about that for a bit. It's your typical Golden Age mystery story, filled with Dark Family Secrets and Rich Ironies and a Cornucopia of Clues and all that good stuff. (It's even got twin brothers for some reason.) It's kind of a trip, sorting through all the scents in the game, trying to figure out whodunnit. While the central mystery wasn't bad, I had a hard time keeping it and the other unrelated subplots apart. It can be very confusing to see how all the threads tie together, and the in-game notes are inadequate for keeping track without taking your own notes. Still, the central mechanic of nested descriptions is a good one; there have been a couple games like it in the past, and I hope there will be many more in the future.

Toby's Nose was also nominated for Best Individual PC, so let's talk about him for a bit. There have been many IF games starring animals over the years, and one of them, Hardy the bulldog from Renee Choba's Snack Time!, has actually won, but by and large they tend to be fairly light in tones, dealing with slight subjects like getting your owner's attention, or stealing a snack. But Toby, being the dog of the great Sherlock Holmes, gets to dwell on darker matters, like murder or class struggles. The nested descriptions, though surreal at times, are a good way of conveying Toby's dog-like nature without compromising the mystery and investigation thereof. And if Toby sometimes displays a greater understanding of a situation than a real dog would, well, Holmes has his moments of magic competence, too. All in all, Toby is a very good dog, and an excellent PC.

Sorry this was so late, I just don't know what happened.


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