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About the StoryIn a Manor of Speaking is a punny adventure set in the surreal world of Calembour.
Journey through the bizarre Outlands, the bustling streets of Rudeville, and eventually find your way to the manor itself as you save the land by using the power of words!
Amazingly, though the author was aware of Infocom's Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It, he was unaware of the Manor of Speaking chapter until after conceiving this piece of interactive fiction. It just goes to show that attractive minds think alike!
Featuring built-in hints, In a Manor of Speaking was designed to be enjoyed by both new and experienced players alike.
10th Place - 18th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2012)
Nominee, Best Puzzles - 2012 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 4
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I don't claim to have played many wordplay focused IF games before, but I loved this one. In a Manor of Speaking is an adventure beyond the Bermuda Triangle through a world ruled by puns. Lord Dashney is the evil figurehead who needs to be overthrown and you are the person who needs to do it, using only colloquial expressions and a bit of lateral thinking as your weapons.
The game's implementation in Release 3, the one I played, is very strong. Its puzzles are numerous, amusing and served by an excellent contextual hints system. The game's humourous tone and aesthetic are entirely coherent and the prose is hiccup free. In short, this level of quality is what I ideally want from every adventure in the comp. The immersion which results when every part of a game is working smoothly and the flow of words and actions is unbroken is hard to beat, and with only a few games left for me to review now, I can say that In a Manor of Speaking is the only game to have achieved such frictionless immersion for me in this competition. Therefore unless you hate wordplay (and this is a pretty user friendly version of it) I advise you, and all and sundry, to try In a Manor of Speaking.
Paradoxically, I find that this game's accessible comedy style makes it hard to discuss at length. Its meanings are consistently transparent, whether they are silly sight gags (metalheads whose heads are made out of metal), riffs on timeworn sayings (Spoiler - click to show)(the pudding which contains the proof) or misdirections (the game is full of bars, but only the first one is a metal rod). To write about the game's jokes like this makes them sound only groany, but puns are fascinating because while they do often prompt groaning or cries of "I hate puns," almost nobody genuinely hates a pun, except for people whose souls are broken and ugly as pitch. You know, people who are to be pitied. In fact most people enjoy being the opportunistic revealers of puns in conversation once in awhile. In a Manor of Speaking takes you into a world and mode of writing where the puns are so numerous that they are the source of all the meaning. This pushes them beyond the context of goofy pleasure and shame which often accompanies isolated real-life punning into a place where anyone is likely to enjoy them more freely.
I only encountered a couple of tiny bugs in the game and both were related to the object "a piece of your mind" and the kangarude. The solidity of implementation also extends to the majority of the parser's blocking messages, with idiosyncratic jokes on hand for most kinds of command rejection. The numerous instant deaths (which you can instantly back out of, as well) become something that you can easily anticipate, as a good number are attached to invitingly stupid actions, but you're likely to find that you still enjoy trying each one.
In a Manor of Speaking is a funny and engaging adventure with a lot of personality and a near seamless delivery. That last point is a clincher for me, whether a game is light, profound, transparent or opaque.
For originality points, I will say that this is the only game or story I've played that uses the premise that I've crash landed in the Bermuda Triangle, and that's why things are so wonky. That's where the originality ends, though.
This is Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It / Ad Verbum territory, which is territory I love, but this one doesn't rise and shine as its predecessors did. That said, I laughed a few times, and I won't say that I didn't enjoy it. I just didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed those other games, and it's pretty much impossible to not make the comparison.
Much like Nord & Bert and Ad Verbum, Manor has different areas to pass through with different types of wordplay, some of which are amazing, some of which are a real bore. Admittedly, it's hard to make a coherent game based solely on wordplay, and given that consideration, the narrative is pretty solid. Naturally, it tends towards the surreal as objects are manipulated by your punnery.
Unlike Nord & Bert, Manor is a continuous narrative and is not subdivided into sections. In some ways this works to its advantage, giving the game a goofy & surreal, yet cohesive feel. However, since you cannot skip around to different sections at will; I found myself trying to get through some parts of Manor as quickly as possible just to get that section over with.
Ultimately, the real gems in this game got lost in the overwhelming heap of mediocre puns and sophmoric humor. It would have been better to shorten this game, to pick out the real winners and help them stand out.
In short, if you liked Nord & Bert you'll like this. But if you're expecting Counterfeit Monkey, you'll be disappointed.
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