Peasant's Quest title

Hello everyone. Come, take a seat and listen. A while back I challenged Chris Kemp to be a real gamer and play Peggle. He played it for a week, wrote about his experiences, and emerged a broken man. In retaliation, during last week’s Podcast, he challenged me to play a little game called Peasant’s Quest. The game has changed my life. Hit the jump to see how.

So, much like Chris did, I have been playing PQ for a week. Except because I’m a professional, and this is work, I’ve been playing it for a five-day working week. Side note: beware of spoilers.

Day 1:

PQ starts off promisingly enough: “You are Rather Dashing.”

Damn right I am!

What was once your cottage, is now your revenge...

What was once your cottage, is now your revenge…

The adventure kicks off with Rather Dashing, a hut-dwelling peasant, coming home to find his hut has been burninated by Trogdor the Burninator. After a short intro scene, I take control and immediately type “play game” into the text parser. My audacity is rewarded with a soon to be familiar response from the game: “I don’t understand, type HELP for assistance.”

Pfft, I don’t need help. I’m an adult, and I’m on a quest. Trogdor must die! To kill him I have to dress like a peasant, smell like a peasant and be on fire (!) like a peasant. Eh, whatever, it’s a better love story than Twilight.

In the top-left of the screen is a score counter. That’s reassuring because it makes me feel like this is a real video game. My score increases for the first time when I steal chicken feed from a woman. Because why not? The woman tells me to search her garden for some MacGuffin, but I find nothing.  Then I meet some archer dude who tells me to say “Haldo” to his brother Dongalev. Hur-hur, he said “Dong”.

All is going well until I run into a big troll. The troll promptly catches up to me and pounds my peasant body into a fine paste. It’s a good note on which to end day one.

I tried to feed the troll. Don't feed the trolls

I tried to feed the troll. Don’t feed the troll.

Day 2:

Earlier today I was playing The Witcher 2. It’s a masterpiece. Leaving that to play PQ feels like a crime against humanity and gaming. I swear that the moment I closed The Witcher 2, someone at CD Projekt began to weep for no apparent reason. You can thank Chris, dear developer.

Where was I? Right…

So I’m trying to find Dongface or whatshisname. And that leads me to my first puzzle. I have a well-bucket that won’t descend, and a pocketful of pebbles from a beach. I type “use pebbles” and boom! Bucket goes down, crank becomes unstuck and I reel in a sweet, sweet mask. Nice.

The part with the baby comes later

The part with the baby comes later

The info on the mask says it could “scare a horse”. That happens to be one of my real-world skills, but that’s not relevant right now. I saw a horse earlier. It was standing sad and alone in a field, surrounded by stink-lines indicating its filthiness. I track it down, don my mask, and scare the horse so much it charges through a wooden fence.

Holy Newell! I didn’t mean to do that! I’ve traumatised that poor horse! I’ve probably scared it so hard it forgot its wife’s birthday! That horse will never be the same again, and it’s all my Chris Kemp’s fault!

Moving through the horse-sized hole in the fence, I find Dongalev. I’m too distraught to make a joke about his name, but I bet that horse would have loved the joke.

Dongalev, pictured with Shafts and Wood.

Dongalev, pictured with shafts and wood.

Anyway, I say “Haldo” to Dongalev and he toddles off to continue with his archery. I pick up an arrow, save the game, and get my character murdered by a troll again. I don’t mind, a horse-scarer like him deserves it.

Day 3:

I have a tiny, tiny ulcer in my mouth. So every time I sneer at this game, my mouth fills with vivid agony. Therefore, today I will only say nice things about it.

I’ll admit, it’s fun. There is a certain satisfaction I get from finishing puzzles. You know, like scaring that poor horse. And I can see that some people might really enjoy this, much like some people might enjoy being a neo-Nazi.  And the humour is great. Often the screen will flash a message reminding you what a terribly stupid moron you are, or it’ll break the fourth wall with snarky comments. Although honestly, I can’t enjoy text-based adventure games as much as someone who grew up playing them. I don’t have the built-in nostalgia.

"You merely adopted text-based. I was born to it. I didn't see polygons until I was a man."

“You merely adopted text-based. I was born to it. I didn’t see polygons until I was a man.”

Fun times. Almost as fun as ruining that horse’s life. There are three monsters in this game: Trogdor the Burninator, that troll, and me the player. The horse probably loved his field, and those stink-lines were really attached to him. I took all that away from him…

Time to go back to anime. There aren’t any horse traumatisers in Hunter X Hunter.

Day 4:

Today in Hunter X Hunter, things are really heating up! The third phase of the Hunter exam is a very entertaining game of hunter vs. hunted, and naturally our hero Gon has to target the monstrously strong Hisoka. This leads to one hell of a training montage. I love training segments in series, they’re a great way to show a character’s growth and good for us to appreciate what they put themselves through. Not much happened in today’s episode, but it was a good build-up to what will be a terrific future confrontation.

Unfamiliar with HxH? Then this is the only picture you deserve.

Unfamiliar with HxH? Then this is the only picture you deserve.

I hope that horse is OK, wherever he may be.

Day 5:

So it has come to this. Final day, down to the wire. I need to finish this game and patch things up with that horse. This one’s for you, you magnificent ungulate bastard.

Those archery brothers weren’t that helpful. They’re hinting I need to bring them an item, and they’ll then advance the story for me. Unappreciative little snots. I RUINED A HORSE’S LIFE FOR YOU!

Dongalev and Capt. Useful. I wish there were other NPCs in this game

Dongalev and Capt. Useful. I wish there were other NPCs in this game

Ahem, moving on. I return to the woman’s house where I stole the chicken feed and find the item she was hinting about. I give it to the Archery Bros. and get thrown into an archery mini-game. What! Non-textual gameplay? In this? I was shocked. Anyway, the puzzles were really straightforward from here on, so I’ll present them with as little context as possible:

Pictured: Context

Pictured: context

Win mini-game to get bow, use bow and arrow to kill troll, dive into mud, dive into haystack, become haystack, steal insurance money, swap money for baby, binge-watch House of Cards with baby, send baby into a hole and then release him into the wild, get the robe, get the stinky belt, coat head in horse-grease, immolate self, talk to knight, climb cliff, confront Trogdor, die, win.

Yep. All that, and the game is designed for you to fail. I ruined a horse’s life, killed a troll, bought a baby and set myself on fire, and all I get for this is a post-credits statue and a sense of emptiness. But wait! There was something I missed! At one point in the game, I found a naked dude behind a tree. Maybe I need to talk to him once I’m a proper peasant? So I start the game up, type “load” and promptly overwrite my old save game. Yep, I’m back at the beginning and I’ve lost all that progress forever. We’re done here.

Finding pictures was trickier than expected, and I couldn't find a good place for this one. Deal with it.

Finding pictures was trickier than expected, and I couldn’t find a good place for this one. Deal with it.

So, to wrap up: Peasant’s Quest changed my life. Like losing a limb, or getting a hole drilled into your skull, you’re never quite the same afterwards, and you regret everything. There is potential here, and I’d love to see a text-based game that takes more advantage of today’s hardware, or is written by someone like Neil Gaiman. That said, I regret everything about Peasant’s Quest, and am now a worse person for having played it.

But, I beat Chris’ challenge. Tune in to tonight’s podcast to hear who I challenge next….