Chris Tolworthy has embarked on an epic quest: to transform the world’s greatest novels into computer games. So far, Tolworthy has taken on such classics as Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” and Dante’s Divine Comedy. But his latest release, a playable version of Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo,” is perhaps his most compelling and enjoyable release to date.
Gameplay is simple: you play as the protagonist, Edmund Dantes (who later becomes the Count of Monte Cristo), clicking on various objects and people to solve puzzles in order to move the story along. There is a gigantic world for you to explore, and you can have Edmund interact with any of the objects and characters in order to solve the puzzles. One might think it would be a challenge to turn something you read – a passive action – into something you play – an active action – but Tolworthy expertly turns the book’s many twists and turns into solvable puzzles. These puzzles could stand to be a bit more difficult at times – some are downright obvious – but the game is highly enjoyable for players of all age groups.
What is so successful about Enter the Story, particularly the newest game, is that it isn’t just a game: solving the puzzles often reveals cut-scenes for the player to watch, making it seem as though you are really playing a part in catalyzing the events of the novel. In this sense, you are not just playing a game, but playing a story. With “Monte Cristo,” Tolworthy has mastered the art of combining an amusing gaming experience with the edification of actually reading a book and delving into its plot, characters, and ideas. What’s more, all of the games now come with the full text of the actual book, giving us further opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the text. Enter the Story is a unique and exciting venture taking the player deep into some of our favorite classic novels, and actually letting us explore its world and interact with its characters.
Tolworthy insists that the aesthetics are intentionally simplistic – “If you get bored and start noticing the art style then I am doing something wrong,” as he says on his website – but while the characters are certainly simplistic – usually just colorless outlines with minimal internal detail – the backgrounds are always well-crafted, and some of the landscapes are simply beautiful (you can see screenshots here). While the main focus in “Enter the Story” is certainly, as you could imagine, the story, the minimalistic artwork certainly does not detract from the overall experience.
The music is almost always perfect for the moment: Tolworthy combs through hundreds upon hundreds of royalty-free music to match the right track with the right scene. At times, Tolworthy might become a bit overzealous with the music – there are scenes in which the song seems to change several times in one scene – but for the most part the soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment for the game, heightening the intensity and really giving the player a multi-dimensional experience.
Like any indie game, Enter the Story is not without its flaws – a spelling mistake here, an oversized sprite there – and these flaws might occasionally distract from the flow of the game. But Tolworthy is always open to bug reports and suggestions on his forum or blog: this is a game maker who sincerely cares about his customers and wants them to get the best bang for their buck.
Speaking of bucks, you can purchase all five of his current releases, including “Monte Cristo,” for just $14.99 – an insanely low price at just $3 a pop (you can also buy individual games for $7.99). What’s more, you can get his first game, “Les Miserables,” absolutely free, and you can play a demo version of “Monte Cristo” before purchasing it.
I strongly recommend Enter the Story’s newest installment, “The Count of Monte Cristo,” to avid readers and gamers alike. With “Monte Cristo,” Tolworthy has found his groove, giving us a unique and highly enjoyable gaming experience.