Even the coldest soul, although they may not admit it, has a soft spot in their hearts for mad libs. Plugging random words into short stories creates unintentional comedy, and that is the best kind. ADventure Lib strives to take that random kind of fun and translate it into a basic point-and-click adventure title. With plenty of in-game shenanigans and the opportunity to add in your own stuff, is this the interactive tool mad lib aficionados have been waiting for?
I could explain the basic outline of the plot, but it’s kind of difficult to do. It basically has something to do with you being chosen to go on a quest to save the kingdom. The thing is, all the major people and things in the game are randomized. You might be a brave fighter serving the king, or you just might be a brave pineapple serving a butter knife. The plot is short, but it’s meant to be replayed so you can see different variations each time. If you thought fighting a fire-breathing dragon was hard, wait until you try taking down a fire-breathing toilet!
When I say the game is short, I mean it’s really short. If your intention is to just blaze through the story, you’ll find that it will take you about twenty minutes the first time. If you don’t find the mad libs funny or interesting, you won’t get your monies worth here. If you’re willing to replay the game, subsequent treks through the game can be completed in as little as ten minutes. All you have to do is remember how the puzzles are solved, and they’re not at all hard. The first time will be the most difficult, as you’ll have very little clue as to what some of the things in your inventory do.
Visually, the game has a sort of sticker book vibe that serves it well. Since most of the objects in the game are designed to be replaced by whatever nonsense is randomly thrown in, there’s less focus on detail and more focus on setting. There are only a handful of locations in the game, but they all look fine. Animations are pretty much nil. Characters (or items) just flip over if they need to change direction. This is acceptable though, as again, you need to be able to fit all of those different items in. It’s not a visual stunner by any means, but it’s great for what the game is trying to do.
The aural experience is a bit of a mixed bag. The music is nice enough to listen to, but doesn’t stand out as anything interesting. You’ll either hate or love the voices, and they make up the bulk of the experience. There’s a narrator, and a voice for each character. When a word is changed out for one of the mad libs, however, the voice saying the word depends on the word. While the male narrator is talking, he’ll stop for a random female voice to say “potatoes” something. Depending on your mindset, this will either add to the experience or make it worse. On the plus side, you can record your own voice when adding items to the game. That’s nifty.
The game uses a either/or style of control that makes use of the keyboard and/or mouse. You can click to where you want to move, and click on icons to talk to characters, use items, and so on. Conversely, you can use A and D to move, S to open up your inventory, and so on. I found a combination of the two was the most useful. It can be a bit awkward at times, as you can’t click on a character to interact with it. You have to click on the icons that appear on screen. You also have to be facing the right direction and standing in the right spot. While far from ideal, it gets the job done.
Gameplay is simple point-and-click fare. Your job is to talk to people and to pick up items for later use. Managing items in your inventory is a little clunky, but manageable. You can combine some items, or simply put something in your hand in order to use it. With an item in your hand, you’ll have access to a special icon on the screen that lets you attempt to use it. Keys open doors, spears fend off dragons, you get the idea. Of course, the mad lib fun gets in here too. The items you use are random, even if they’ll serve the same purpose. Instead of a key opening a door, you might get a pineapple opening a kitten. This can make some of the puzzles a bit confusing until you figure out how things work. Like many adventure games, the result is trial and error.
You don’t have to worry about a steep difficulty curve with this one. Many of the game’s sections are cut off until you are supposed to move forward. It’s also painfully obvious what can and cannot be interacted with. Your inventory will never be more than half a dozen items, so it doesn’t take long to try things out. A lot of the guesswork is avoided, and you won’t have to worry about hunting down that last bit of interactive area.
Finally, you can add your own items into the game. Opening up this option will take you out of the game, and into a tool. There, you can name your item, record the name, and put in the picture. There’s a crude art program for those who want to use it, but you can just as easily copy an existing image. Using this, I was able to add Batman into the game in a matter of a couple of minutes. Customization is key for mad libs, so this feature is quite welcome.
In the end, your appreciation of the game will come down entirely to how you feel about mad libs. If you don’t like them, you’ll get an extremely confusing adventure game. If you dig the randomness and the unintentional humor that follows, you’ll have something you can come back to time and again when you need a good laugh. It’s also a nifty game to show off to friends.
Short Attention Span Summary
ADventure Lib is a short adventure game that relies on its random nature to keep you coming back for more. It’s amusing, and the creation tool gives it life after the first play through or two. While it certainly won’t be winning any awards at the end of year, it’s worth a look for someone who’s on the hunt for good-natured fun.