(I first played this game about fifteen years ago and was quickly overwhelmed by the richness of the world and the number of possible interactions with it. With a bit more adventuring practice under my belt, I managed to solve it without hints. Great fun for its own sake. And sometimes that’s exactly what hits the spot.
Augmented Fourth - Details (ifdb.org))
"But if we throw the Cat in the barrel first,…
…then how will the Aardvark learn to swim?"
A small taste of the sometimes absurd sense of humour that pervades Augmented Fourth
King Goosen of Papoosen did not enjoy your rendering of “Ode to a Duck”. Consequently, you and your trusty trumpet are thrown down the pit, where you discover a community of sorts living at the bottom of the volcano.
Determined to make it back top-side, you must now overcome the obstacles that stand between you and the closed-off ladder to the castle. You have your wits and your magically enhanced trumpet.
Instead of memorizing magic scrolls, in Augmented Fourth you must obtain and learn music sheets. Each of the melodies has its own effect on your surroundings and as such functions as a wizard’s spell. This magic system is worked out in detail. If you play a particular ditty in a location that is not the intended puzzle-room, the surroundings will still react, sometimes hilariously. The actual effects of the spells are mostly natural phenomena (rain, gravity, ducks…), so it is not too difficult to judge which spell/song to play to solve a particular puzzle.
The game keeps a nice balance between magical solutions and more prosaic adventuring puzzles. Along with summoning ducks through trumpet-playing, you will also need to do the usual bit of exploring of the cave and manipulating of the objects.
The cave under the volcano has a splendid map. The adventure starts off in the center of the volcano, also the central hub of the area. All directions save one are open for exploration from the beginning, and multiple puzzles are accessible from the start. Almost without noticing though, you will have less and less options to pursue, effectively pushing you to the bottleneck in the northern quadrant. From there on out, the game shifts gears and the story gets on fast-moving railroad tracks to the hilarious finale.
A finale that is foreshadowed throughout the game in small amusing intermezzos narrating what is happening with the King up top, who is spiraling down to ever more insanely funny despotic madness.
Modern IF is often lauded for the way the puzzles are seamlessly integrated into the story. Augmented Fourth turns this on its head: the story is woven seamlessly around the puzzles, which are without a doubt the real reason of existence for this game. In many of those puzzles, well-known adventuring tropes are averted, subverted, completely avoided or twisted in a knot. Breaking down the player’s expectations often leads to fantastically comic situations, when a certain build-up of tension is suddenly relieved in an unforeseen direction.
There are also a number of playthings that are just that: items to play around with. They’re not even red herrings (of which there are also a fair number…), just opportunities to idly while away the time. In the same vein, there are a number of books that provide hints; they mostly provide page after page of completely unnecessary sillines.
A very silly, moderately difficult and very smoothly playing puzzle-romp.