Review: Deck the Halls, Gieves

(A very smart and funny game. Woefully overlooked though: 5 ratings and 3 reviews on IFDB. --Wodehouse transported to IF: Deck the Halls, Gieves - Details (

“Checkers old Chum!”

An invitation arrived. What a horrendous prospect! To spend the Christmas festivities in Penrose Hall, your exasperating Aunt Allison’s domain…

Fortunately, upon arrival two glints of silver lining present themselves. Your old school chum Checkers is also present, and the lovely young lady Julia will be joining the family for the duration.

Less fortunately however, those silver linings soon conflict, as your chum and you find yourselves in a not-so-friendly cockfight over the attentions of the endearing young lady…

Deck the Halls, Gieves consists of four short vignettes, four scenes presenting one obstacle each. The puzzles are easy but pleasantly askew. It may take some poking and prodding getting into the right frame of mind.

The true strength of the game lies in its splendid writing, a spot-on parody of 1920s upper class British English.
The author obviously delights in writing elaborate winding cutscenes, filled (but not overstuffed) with quaint turns-of-phrase and idiomatic expressions.
The delightful language permeates the descriptions of locations, characters and actions. The tone of the piece is beautifully supported by having this use of words and expressions extend even to the reports of failed actions.

An interesting player-PC-narrator dynamic flows throughout the game. The main character, commonly filling the role of PC, is also, especially perhaps, the narrator of his exploits in Penrose Hall. This leaves the player, who habitually gives orders to the PC, more in the role of an interested listener. Her commands in this game are reframed as suggestions, nudges to urge the main character to continue the story. Here too, the customised in-character responses to failed commands do a lot of heavy lifting to maintain the illusion of the player being told a tall tale by the main protagonist.

Deck the Halls, Gieves is an acutely humorous work. It does not rely on a barrage of jokes and puns to attain this mood. Rather, bit by bit it calls forth a rising tide of understated ridiculousness and awkwardness, piling silly situations one atop the other until the player can’t help but snigger and giggle. I for one had trouble relaxing my smiling muscles by the time the game was finished.

Very well-written Wodehousean comedy.


@deusirae: you have no idea how much self-restraint this took…


This review inspired my to check the game out for myself! Had a good laugh at some of the opening dialogue, excited to see where it goes.

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