Who Are You, Mr. Cooper? Review
Inspired by the “choose your own adventure” books made popular ages ago, The Last Fairy Tale puts players on the hunt for Alexander Cooper in their new title Who Are You, Mr. Cooper? The books that made the genre prided themselves on trial, error, and interactivity – does this game manage to capture their spirit?
Who Are You, Mr. Cooper? Review
The tale of this title begins with a bang – literally. After catching up with your acquaintance Arthur at a tavern, an explosion goes off that kills your pal. In his dying breath, he gives you a letter and tells you to find Alexander Cooper, who knows the code. What follows is a journey through a steampunk world, one where a bunch of no-goods want you dead and life is a grind.
Traveling between 13 different districts in the fictional world of Staighrem, players navigate this capital of the Empire with their electric machine. The entirety of the game focuses primarily on text with the occasional management of coin, health, and inventory. It’s not unlike classics like The Oregon Trail, where everything must be kept in perfect harmony. For instance, players can take up a job for additional money, but it comes at the cost of your health.
When things go smoothly, this works as it should. The resource management can be entertaining, and being on top of the world can be a refreshing feeling. Winning a horse race or gleaning insights at the Inventor’s Club will put you out ahead, and it makes the rest of the game that much easier.
However, Who Are You, Mr. Cooper? has a nasty habit of relying on luck. Much like life, the game likes to throw a wrench into your plans at any given opportunity. A perfect example of this is with the never-do-goods who follow you around – arriving in random locales forces you to contend with these fellows, either by running away or blending with the crowd. Both have their drawbacks, as the minigames tied to them are rigged. One literally relies on a luck of the cards, while another requires fervent clicking that we were just not able to keep up with. It’s cheap, and it could have just as easily been removed to level the playing field. Seeing how failure leads to a swift kick to the title screen, this is a cardinal gaming sin.
The game also suffers from its repetitive nature. It’s perfectly fine that the game almost entirely resides in menus with text, but not a lot of time or energy went into the design of each area. Artwork for each district repeats itself, and visiting the same area multiple times will occasionally bring up the same options. There are times where players need to traverse from one area to another, paying up each time they travel, only to have to traverse back to the very beginning of the game because that lead was a dead end. To add insult to injury, some stops require a hefty payout under the “guise” of accessing an archive. If more work went into this design, it wouldn’t start to feel like a grind.
Note that there is a way to get through the game through the creation of items via the assembly chart. Items like an invisibility cloak, a battery, protective armor, and search glasses can all be made, and can make your journey that much easier. Though this element is a welcome one, knowing the best way to optimize the system means that some items will take priority over others.
Though Who Are You, Mr. Cooper? channels the spirit of the choose-your-own-adventure books from long ago, the end result is less than stellar. Its heavy reliance on luck and rote repetition lead to a somewhat rough execution.
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