Circus Reviews - The Armoire
I didn't grow up with point-and-click adventure games, and thus I'm not naturally drawn to playing them, but one of my favorite Youtubers plays them often. But I am naturally drawn to free games and to dark games, and this one seemed to fit the bill when I saw it. It's actually an adaptation of a medieval French fairy tale called "Bluebeard" or "Barbe Bleue", and fairy tales are of course known for being rather dark. So does this little game work as an adaptation? Let's find out. The Armoire's main character is a young woman who has just married a wonderful man named Richard. It seems like she will have the perfect life, and the only strange thing is a locked armoire in their room that Richard has forbidden her to open. Overcome with curiosity, the young woman begins exploring the house one night while Richard sleeps in the hopes of finding the armoire's key and uncovering the mystery.
Typical for a point-and-click game, your objective is to wander around the environment and click on things. There are a few simple puzzles and a basic inventory system, but it's nothing you can really get stuck on; the protagonist will give you hints if you don't seem to be getting what you need to do, and the game is easily completed in ten minutes or so. It's a short playtime, but it does serve to eliminate any aimless meandering and get right to the point of things.
There are a few technical flaws that didn't help my experience out. The text that appears below the main window is, a couple of times, so long that it cuts off and the last word or two can't be seen. The way the protagonist walks toward objects you click on feels a bit unnatural in places, as she can end up facing the wrong direction depending on which way you come at it. Also, the whole reason you can search the home is that your husband is asleep, but the fact that he sleeps through this entire thing, including when you're in the same room as him and making noise, takes shots at the immersion. None of these are really enough to detract too much, though.
As an adaptation, the biggest difference is probably the main character herself and how she handles the situation. In the original, the heroine pretty much immediately finds her goal; her husband goes out of town and gives her keys to every door in the mansion, but asks her not to open a particular one. Too curious to pass up the opportunity, she opens the door. There's some implication (at least to me) that the husband did it purposely to test her. In this version, the woman doesn't have the same access to the locked area and decides to go exploring on her own. And as usual, I don't want to spoil either version's ending, but let's just say that in this tale she takes action for herself moreso than her fairy tale counterpart.
It's a short tale, but a good one. I could definitely recommend it to people who enjoy fractured fairy tales and new takes on old classics, or people who enjoy proactive heroines. But I feel like its best audience is those just being introduced to the point-and-click genre. It's not too long, completely free, and does a good job of going over the basics. Definitely give it a look if you're wanting to get into those kinds of games, or if you just like exploring an empty mansion to spooky music. There are lots of good reasons to play.
The Armoire is available for free download on itch.io and GameJolt. Final verdict: While there are a few flaws here and there that can break the immersion somewhat, The Armoire takes an old fairy tale and presents a fresh and interesting look at it, and serves as a great introductory game for those new to point-and-click games. The Armoire is developed by TimeBomb. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.