[IF Comp 2019] Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir, by Damon L. Wakes

Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir is a fantasy comedy about a dungeon lord who didn't realise what crowd you'll attract when you open a dungeon. Having seen things he would rather forget, Loinhammer goes on a quest for the unsee elixir (not a typo), and you, dear reader, go on the quest with him. I decided to put on some horribly cheesy fantasy metal – Rhapsody of Fire – just to get in the mood, and join Loinhammer I did.

The game presents itself as a classic gamebook experience for which you need to print out an adventure sheet. It's decidedly nonstandard, with scores like "Self-esteem" and a box for Luck which has "Bad" pre-printed in it. I could have done without it being called “Ye Olde Adventure Sheete,” as the "Ye Olde" there is too trite a joke to make me smile, but I’m sill on board for this. Plus, Rhapsdoy of Fire is singing bad English lyrics that fit Girth Loinhammer just fine:
For the glory, the power to win the dark lord, we will search for the emerald sword!
Win the dark lord indeed! Though this dark lord does not want to be won. He wants to unsee all the winning, and all the emerald swords, that were going down in his dungeon.

Back to serious reviewing. Girth Loinhammer is a parody of the gamebook fantasy quest. Its humour is based on over-the-top exuberance, absurdism, and fourth-wall-breaking subversion of genre tropes. This is a hard thing to do well; you have to walk a very thin line between not trying hard enough and trying too hard. Girth Loinhammer is a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes, it’s definitely trying too hard; for instance, when we ‘betray’ the Hound of Halitosis and we get an all too predictable joke about it being deeply wounded, wait, no, not wounded at all. But sometimes it gets things exactly right – like when you click on a mathematically impossible choice at the start of the game and are immediately called out for it by the game. (And rewarded with extra self-esteem.) And some of the gags made me laugh:
So… yeah, I definitely enjoyed myself for the fifteen minutes it took me to play through twice; and that was surely precisely what was intended with Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir. The author may want to raise the hit-to-miss ratio of the jokes if they want to create something longer in the future, but there was enough fun stuff here to carry this light little story. Recommended if you're in the mood. If you're not, put on some Rhapsody of Fire first. (The hilarious thing about that band is that they seem to be utterly serious.)


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