In a relatively poor year in terms of numbers (compared to the previous ones) in the adventure genre, it is particularly pleasing that there is a very respectable level of quality in the representatives of the genre. The Will of Arthur Flabbington of Gugames studio (95% of which consists of the lone developer Fabio Guggeri), after a fairly long period of development, has once again come to prove that when there are good ideas, accompanied by smart implementations, they always result in a perfectly good result. Regardless of innovation or originality.
The Will of Arthur Flabbington promises nothing more than a humorous adventure in an old-school pixel-art style, but one that requires a sharp mind, keen observation and imaginative thinking. Admittedly, without the game being outrageously difficult, it's one of the hardest we've played in recent years, and that's due to not any absurd puzzles that ask the player to connect the moon to its strings. Instead, it consists of a series of very inventive puzzles, where every time I got stumped but found the solution, I exclaimed "it was that simple after all". And that's exactly what wins the bet between a good adventure and a mediocre/bad adventure.
A powerful ally to the enjoyable experience that makes up The Will of Arthur Flabbington is its story. The protagonist of the story is Jack Flabbington, a conventional young man of modern times, who was lucky enough to had a wealthy uncle, Arthur, who suddenly left this futile world. However, the phone call he receives from the notary is not so pleasant for him, as he learns that in his will, his uncle leaves to him absolutely nothing.
What's worse is that the will does state that there is something like treasure, but this "something" is left to two elderly friends, which Jack believes is his rightful beneficiary as next of kin. So in order to learn first-hand of his uncle's plans, being the sensible man that he is, he resorts to a medium (!) in order to have a séance and bring Arthur's spirit into the material world, if only temporarily. Indeed, the séance is successful, only instead of his uncle, the medium summons another, completely irrelevant, Arthur! What bad luck to have a difficult to pronounce surname.
The situation is complicated by the fact that, thanks to the powerful spell performed by the psychic, Jack is stuck with this particular spirit until he completes his goal, which is to find the treasure. Of course, the spirit of the "wrong" Arthur is not happy with his luck either, but having no choice, they have to help each other, no matter how much sympathy there is between them. As you can see, the conflict between Jack and Arthur is the springboard for a series of hilarious situations, full of caustic humour (and not so politically correct - about time), and the puzzles that are created often require a combination of their particular skills.
Jack is brash and often impudent, which can both benefit him at times and get him into trouble, while the floating Arthur is invisible to the rest of the world and, shortly afterwards, gains the awesome ability to possess people whose mental level is relatively low. With these characteristics in mind, but also keeping our brain cells alert, we will need to control both protagonists of the story appropriately in order to successfully get through three Acts of increasing difficulty, but not duration.
In particular, the first Act is quite small and has just three screens, so it's relatively easy to move on. The second Act is, by far, the longest, but also the most open, as we can visit, almost from the very start, a remarkable number of locations. The consequence of this is that there are many impending puzzles "working" in parallel, which is enough to make us get lost, at least until we grasp the end of one of the threads and slowly unravel it until it makes sense.
The truth is that the game tries to give us some hints, with Arthur acting as a little journal if we speak to him as Jack, however the guidance is sparse and the game almost throws the player into the deep end. However, this kind of design is not annoying, as it is often obvious what to do in each situation (e.g. to return the florist to his post, we have to help him catch a fish), we just have to figure out how to implement the solution we have in mind.
As mentioned earlier, there are no moon-logic puzzles, but some are capable of making us really stuck if we are not sufficiently observant (like the one with the milk). The fact that there are some red-herring items, but they are used in some optional, ultimately, puzzles, just to earn the associated achievement, makes our task quite difficult. However, nothing is impossible, with Act 3 very much "picking up" the open world of Act 2, but without falling short in puzzle difficulty.
As such, The Will of Arthur Flabbington is in no way targeted at newcomers to the genre who don't have a "great resume" in the genre, nor is it for the impatient gamer. However, not everything can and need not be for everyone to judge it negatively, especially when the game is characterized by high quality writing, obvious "love" for the product itself, but also for adventures in general (there are many apt references to well-known representatives of the genre). Consequently, the technical aspect takes a back seat, not impressing anywhere (the voice-over is merely satisfying), but at the same time, that's not its purpose.
Its purpose is to offer a challenging, smart, at times cheeky and humorous old-school adventure that will be enjoyed primarily by fans of the genre. And there, The Will of Arthur Flabbington doesn't miss the mark. So if you're looking for such an adventure, look no further.