The Impossible Bottle by Linus Åkesson
Last year’s Pas de deux was a fascinating and experimental game, though somewhat overwhelming. The Impossible Bottle seems to tread safer ground: it is a parser comedy in which we play a six-year old girl. (What’s up with the age of six? It’s also the age of the protagonists in Little Girl in Monsterland and, obviously, Six.) We’re solving puzzles in a limited environment as we work through the items on our to do list. So far, so standard.
But what a joy it is to play The Impossible Bottle! Most importantly, there is the main puzzle mechanic itself, which centres around the doll house. Put an item in the doll house, and an enlarged version of it appears in the real world. Take an item out of the doll house, and you have a miniature version of it in the real world. Simple, but used to great effect as a puzzle mechanic. And, of course, not simple at all from a programming perspective – yet I never experienced even a single glitch with it, which is a testament to the prowess and carefulness of Linus Åkesson.
I’m tempted to say that everything about The Impossible Bottle is perfect. The nice ramping up of difficulty. The amount of fun that is contained in so many of the activities you get to perform – including riding a dinosaur! (Dad telling you that he has put the dinosaur in the doll house was certainly one of my favourite moments in the game.) The brief but effective characterisation of the characters. The ending, which revealed the true nature of the ‘visitors’ and gave us a short but poignant little tale about family life in the current situation, already slowly hinted at by the hand sanitizer. Mr. Creosote disliked this part of the game, but I have to disagree strongly! I thought it was perfect. Your brother putting on a nice shirt – so meaningful! It even turns out that mum had been on the phone about your present, and not as absent as she seemed.
Perhaps the getting-rid-of-the-dinosaur puzzle was slightly on the difficult side, but I didn’t mind using the hints once or twice to make sure I got on with that within the 2-hour competition limit. And the vacuum cleaner could have been described on its own when I opened the closet; after all, given that dad is missing his cufflinks, I’m clearly looking for it. But these are details.
This was simply one of the most fun, heart-warming and well-made puzzle parser games I’ve ever played.