Monty Python's The Meaning of Life


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7th Level
Adventure, Puzzle
Based on Other Media / Humour
PC (Windows)

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Mr Creosote (2016-07-07) [hide]

Avatar It's funny that Life of Brian, by far the most popular and successful Monty Python film, never got turned into a game. Complete Waste of Time may have been the software equivalent of Flying Circus and The Holy Grail was obviously the film of the same name, which was immediately followed by The Meaning of Life. Another 'game' oddity in a similar fashion as its predecessors.

Initially, the film's scenic structure is followed fairly closely: we follow life's inherent ridiculousness through the seven stages of man (including the colourfully titled 'fighting each other'). Still backdrops are taken from the film and the player is basically supposed to re-enact some of the well-known scenes. Clicking on highlighted hotspots will trigger silly occurences, which may or may not be entertaining depending on the player's previous level of exposure to Monty Python. Progress-related interaction, on the other hand, is mostly completely simplistic: those who remember the original film dialogue just need to click on the next person to say something. Failing that, simply clicking everywhere is sure to keep things moving.

After that, the game isn't yet won, however. Unexpectedly, three planes of existence (material, spiritual and dental) have to be waded through (looking suspiciously similar). And even after that, there are still a visit to Terry Gilliam's studio/attic/shed and numerous bugs standing in your way of learning life's ultimate secret.

It could be said that these extra 'levels' attempt to be a bit more playful. Like in regular adventure games, objects can be picked up and used in (in-) appropriate fashion. Different interconnected locations need to be search and re-visited. Of course, in all the places, there is silliness to be found.

Unfortunately, the more the makers actually tried to turn the game into a real adventure, the more obvious the flaws in the game design become. The endless skipping between locations, each time interrupted by a 'moral philosophy' question (which may be giggleworthy at first, but soon turn into a chore), the tedious search for hotspots, the almost random effects the usage of objects may or may not have…

As in The Holy Grail, small puzzle games interrupt/spice up the game flow. Problem is that like in the other game, there really is little purpose to them in the given context and none of them are original creations, but rather old hats. Hell, there is even an annoyingly annoying maze full of hidden passages which have to be blasted open first!

Now, of course, everybody will shout: You, using this nickname, how dare you criticise the first noteworthy original Python material after 15 years of silence? It is true, all the remaining Pythons at the time are listed as contributors to the game design and they did indeed all contribute wholly original speech bits at least. So listen. I've given this long and careful thoughts… and it has to be medical experiments!

Seriously. There are a couple of giggles and smirks here and there in this new material, but there really is nothing which made me, a huge Python fan, laugh out loud – apart from the goat sex thing, maybe (fortunately, I was playing with headphones on). For such a level of 'ok' humor, the joke density would need to be increased drastically – we're spending way too long period with nothing happening. A couple of sound bits and clips from the film (and the series) are of course appreciated, but in this interlaced style, I will pick a DVD over this game for this fix any day. And by the time you finally come to the studio, you, too, will realise that this is a game which, in its attempt to provide a longer play time, simply overstays its welcome.

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