If nothing else, Lost Pig is a perfect example of just why you should play a game for a reasonable amount of time before dismissing it. This one I played for a few minutes right at the start of the comp. From the title, and the author’s name, I’d assumed it was a joke entry so I planned on verifying that and then shooting it off to the recycle bin as soon as possible. My first few minutes play backed up that assumption: short, broken sentences, four directions listed from the first location but none of them accessible. The game itself seemed like a joke entry: you’re an orc named Grunk who has to find a lost pig. If that wasn’t enough to convince me it was a joke entry, there’s the fact that the game is written from the viewpoint of a particularly stupid individual and gives the impression of someone having a laugh at the player’s expense. So, having satisfied myself that it was indeed a joke entry, I shoved it to one side and promptly forgot about it.
Boy, that would have been a mistake.
Later on, several weeks later on in fact, I decided to have another go at it. I don’t know why. Maybe something about the implementation of the game made me wonder if there wasn’t more to it than at first meets the eye. So back to Lost Pig I went, determined to at least play it for a bit longer and, if it did turn out to be a joke entry, to write a scathing and bile-filled review to let the author know just what I thought of him.
As it happened, Lost Pig isn’t a joke entry. In fact, at this stage (almost halfway through the comp entries), it’s the best game in the comp so far.
With all that out of the way, on with the game itself…
Yes, you play an orc. An orc called Grunk. And you’re off to find a pig who has become lost. As might be expected, this is quite a bit harder than it first appears. I discovered the pig in the third location I came to but, alas, he wasn’t playing ball and try as I might, my simple-minded orc just wasn’t up to the job of outwitting him. So instead of merely grabbing hold of the annoying swine (in both senses of the word) and legging it out of there, I was left to figure out the secrets of the underground lair I had become stranded in and how best I might manipulate them in order to get myself, and the pig, home safely.
Getting the pig home requires solving quite a variety of puzzles, most of which don’t seem to have any connection to the pig at the time and are solved more because they’re there and they need solving. I figured out quite a few on my own. Others I weakened (yes, guilty as charged) and peeked at the walkthrough. There are a few guess the verb issues – I had trouble with the pole and the stream – but nothing that really caused problems. The walkthrough was particularly handy at times and did a good job of steering me past some of the parts I was stuck on, though at others it confused me by offering hints about things I hadn’t even been aware existed. I was offered hints about a closet before I even found the closet (my finding of it was prompted more by the fact that I’d seen hints relating to it than anything else). Kind of strange, but as it helped me figure out something I hadn’t even been aware needed figuring out, I can’t really complain.
A lot of time and effort has been put into making Lost Pig work. There are few rough edges and most of the puzzles, even the ones I struggled with initially, fall neatly into line when you think about them for long enough. The initial impression I had of it – a joke game – was way off and this is one game I’m just pleased I decided to go back to and give a second chance at.
8 out of 10