Astrologaster – A Comedy of Errors

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I’d not finished just one, but two games last week! Astrologaster was the second game I completed over the weekend.

Though I’m linking to the Steam page for it, I played this as part of the Xbox PC Pass free trial I picked up last month. I had so much fun with this that it alone was worth the price of the Pass for a month (if I’d been paying for it)!

I guess that story-driven (visual novel-ish) games have just been a thing for me lately. I had no clue what this game was about when I started it. But once I understood the experience I was in for, I was hooked and along for the ride.

The game is set in Shakespearian England and carries with it a blend of witty language (all fairly pleasingly voice acted) and a wry, sometimes quite suggestive or dark, humor. If you can appreciate the type of clever humor that the game is shooting for, then you’ll likely have a ball laughing along.

The end of every line of Mary’s songs rhyme. Given that, you can fill in the blank that the “fa la la la” leaves you. 😉

You play as Doctor Simon Forman who seeks answers to his patient’s needs from reading the stars. Interestingly enough, Doctor Forman was a real fellow (I learned after I finished the game and went to look it up on Google), and he actually did keep a case book with information on his querents – which is loosely what the game references.

The only problem is, Doctor Forman achieved his position by fluke in curing the plague. He doesn’t actually have a medical license, and now London is cracking down on anyone who practices without one. So your goal is to earn letters of recommendation from your clients by earning their approval through treating their situations with tact and care.

Only… this is easier said than done. Sometimes you provide the best honest choice (from what you’re given by the stars), and that’s not what your client wants to hear at the moment. They’ll go away annoyed with your answer (you lose points with them), only to come back at the next visit to tell you that your advice had been true (and you earn the points back and often much more).

As the game continues, you quickly start to realize that there’s a web woven between a number of your clients. This can be due to being married, or having met one another somewhere outside of your practice, etc. Some of the answers you provide, should the client follow them, sometimes effect another client – who then comes back to you, completely unaware you were the cause of the fortune/misfortune in their life.

No one in this game, not even Doctor Forman, is a saint by any means. You get that pretty early on as you peek into the dark humorous undercurrents of the lives of his clients. Eventually, you’re “reading the stars” for some characters but providing solutions less due to what the stars tell you and more because of what you know about other people that your current client does not.

I have to admit that though I tried to play the straight and narrow in the beginning, the mischief of this game is infectious. I ended up giving some advice that I knew would lead specific unsavory characters into… less than kind situations… with other characters. I may have been grinning evilly while I did it.

And that’s part of the fun of it all. You never know how a client is going to take even your best-intended advice. So you learn to cut loose and try out some of those what-ifs from time to time.

In the end, though, I managed to earn about 8-9 letters of recommendation from my clients. And that was enough for my fine Doctor Forman to earn his license!

I can see replayability in this game, especially if you weren’t able to secure the letters of recommendation needed for his license, but I’ll be content in my initial experience – blunders and all. While I had good fun and a few regrets on choices I made, I find it even more fun to watch other people play the game through online and see what they choose.

Oh, and I can’t write a post about this game and not mention the hugely talented choir of singers that narrated many songs along the way. They were just icing on the cake!

If any of this interests you, check out some videos out there on the game or just try it for yourself. It’s worth a romp.