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The Road to Canterbury

by Kate Heartfield

Historical
2018

Web Site

(based on 3 ratings)
2 member reviews

About the Story

May the best story win! Enter the medieval world of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," where your journey, and the stories you tell, will change history.

"The Road to Canterbury" is a 175,000-word interactive medieval adventure novel by Kate Heartfield, where your choices control the story. It's entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

London, 1375. The Black Prince of England is dying, and peace with France hangs in the balance.

You are a young pauper on a secret mission. Join a pilgrimage to Canterbury with the powerful noblewoman Philippa de Roet, co-sister-in-law to the Black Prince, and Philippa's husband, Geoffrey Chaucer himself, the customs agent, spy, and occasional poet. Your mission is to persuade Philippa to change the course of history.

You'll fight raiders and knights, aid or foil an assassin, fire up a peasants' revolt, and change your luck for the better or worse. And of course, there's a storytelling contest with a big prize—one you intend to win.

• Play as male, female or non-binary, and as gay, straight, bi, asexual and/or aromantic
• Travel the ancient route of Watling Street from Southwark to Canterbury
• Win a prize in the storytelling contest
• A quest, a joust, a trial by combat? All in a week's work
• Persuade an influential noblewoman to change her politics
• Find love with a knight, a squire, or a traveler from distant lands
• Become a knight, or the head of an abbey, or a powerful player in London's merchant guilds
• Solve the mystery that haunts your family
• Declare your loyalty to England or to France and determine the outcome of the Hundred Years' War

The Hundred Years' war is heating up: will you stoke the flames on the Road to Canterbury?

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: April 26, 2018
Current Version: Unknown
License: Commercial
Development System: ChoiceScript
IFID: Unknown
TUID: z2mmw744mfdf7zsn

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Number of Reviews: 2
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Educational, April 28, 2018
by Sobol (Russia)
I've been waiting for this game for a while. Since the promotional text specifically mentioned the Miller and the Wife of Bath, two of the most larger-than-life Chaucerian characters, I expected The Road to Canterbury to be a light-hearted merry romp through the comical version of Middle Age England - perhaps in the general spirit of Tally Ho and A Midsummer Night's Choice by Kreg Segall (based on Wodehouse and Shakespeare, respectively; Kreg Segall is also one of the beta-testers for The Road to Canterbury).

As it turns out, the game is rather serious, and political, and often reads as an encyclopedia of medieval life and thought. Your character stats, for example, are traditional medieval virtues and the four Hippocratic humors. It isn't particularly light-hearted: some important things are at stake. And while there are some gently amusing moments, the main attraction here are extraordinary many details for those interested in the life and times of Geoffrey Chaucer. Quotes from Virgil, Boethius, etc.; scattered references to the original Canterbury Tales and other Chaucer's works (the Prioress' dog, the name "Blanche", the astrolabe, Saint Christopher's medal, etc.); excursions into the English religious history - and so on.

The story is good and a bit slow-paced, as it fits the source material. The tales pilgrims tell each other are not those from the original book, but condensed versions of other medieval tales (a lay by Marie de France, for instance). Likewise, the characters are new. The Miller, for one, is completely redone and has little in common with Chaucer's Robin; Alyson of Bath, though, is still recognizably Alyson of Bath (and she's romanceable, too!). The most alive of the cast, for me, were two historical figures - Chaucer himself and Philippa.

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Award-winning writing with a design trading autonomy for story, December 25, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
The Road to Canterbury was nominated for a prestigious award (the Nebulas, I think) in writing, and it deserves it. I felt it was 'okay' at first but as it went on I found the plot, characters and details to be great. It has extensively-researched details on life at the time of Chaucer, making the setting a delight to explore.

This is a good game, so everything else I'm going to talk about is just personal opinion and about my own tastes.

I felt that the choices in the game often sacrificed autonomy for a predetermined path.

That's not to say there aren't a lot of choices. You can bring a squire and knight together or bring them apart. You can seek to learn more about your brother's death, pursue a romance, fight duels, buy a racehorse (which I strongly recommend), etc. And your biggest choice, to encourage war between France and England or not, has many shades of nuance to select from.

But frequently it felt like the game forced my character into specific plot points, not by external circumstances, but by presupposing my character's motivations and desires.

This feels like it makes the overall storyline better (since there are assured plot beats) but it felt weird. For instance, near the beginning, you begin to overhear snatches of an interesting conversation. Without any choice on your part, your character decides to risk discovery by trying to eavesdrop. You get to pick how to do it, but you can't choose not to do it at all, even if it doesn't fit your character to that point.

Many such situations come up where it's just assumed your character will do something pre-determined.

I also had some issues trying to determine whether choices were based on sanguine (vs melancholic) or excess (vs temperance) or piety or generosity (vs avarice). For instance, if if you save money by drinking water instead of ale when a friend wants you to drink with them, is it melancholic (avoiding a large group), temperate (not drinking), piety (since you're only supposed to drink on feast days), or avarice since you aren't spending money? Sometimes it was clear, but sometimes it was confusing.

So for me personally, on my 5 point grading scale, I'd give it:

+Polish: The game is smooth and works great. Editing is perfect.
-Interactivity: Some of the stats didn't work well for me.
+Descriptiveness: Awesome. No wonder it won an award.
+Would I play again? I think I will.
+Emotional impact: The last few chapters were great emotion-wise. Lots of satisfying conclusions (for the specific threads I was chasing).

If you enjoyed The Road to Canterbury...

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The following polls include votes for The Road to Canterbury:

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Individual NPCs of 2018 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting puzzles in games released in 2018 which you think might be worth considering for Best Individual NPC in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is...

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Story of 2018 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2018 which you think might be worth considering for Best Story in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to suggest games...

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Overall NPCs of 2018 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2018 which you think might be worth considering for Best NPCs in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to suggest games...

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This is version 1 of this page, edited by R.E.Towers on 26 April 2018 at 2:43pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item