The Book of Living Magic, by Jonas Kyratzes, is the latest in a series of excellent, idiosyncratic works by a relatively unsung developer. This one is a followup to his Desert Bridge (one of my favorites), and it’s got the same sort of funny, childlike but not childish feel. The crayon drawings are appropriate to the gently subversive ideas being presented, and it’s simply packed with extraneous examinable items. In one late-game scene, every book on a bookshelf is clickable. They’re all clearly irrelevant, but if you want you can find out the clever title of each.
One of the interesting aspects of this game is that it’s really not about the story. Most of Kyratzes’s games are heavily storied; either you’re participating in or uncovering story (usually both). In this, however, you’re just exploring the world. The puzzles are simple and rather oddball, and your player character doesn’t make her personality very known. Instead, you’re meeting strange creatures (like Provatica the Unhefted, sheep adventurer) and visiting strange locales (like the Forest of Eyeballs). As one of Kyratzes’s games set in the Land of Dream, everything is appropriately surreal and dreamlike.
There are bits of darkness that pop out, though. Something happened to change Raven Locks Smith’s parents from dreamers to boring people, and it must be related to Mr. Urizen, Mayor of Dull, a recurring entity in Kyratzes’s works. A robot you meet is on the run from a government determined to turn him into a soldier. And the countryside around the town of Oddness Standing clearly has a long and often-solemn history that’s only hinted at in the game.
Play it. It’s short, it’s funny in a way that few games are, and it comes from the heart.