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On Discworld and Death


In the middle of the 1990s, I was given a copy of the Discworld video game on SEGA Saturn. I wasn’t nearly old enough to understand the complicated puzzles, but Eric Idle was hilariously funny and I could interact with my favourite fantasy characters.

The writing was sharp, and the voice acting, courtesy of Tony Robinson, Nigel Planer and Rob Brydon, made every line stand out. It took me a week to find my way out of Unseen University, but I now know every line of dialogue, from Windle Poons to the pancake flipping, terminally annoyed chef. In the end, I took to playing it with my Dad, and together, over many months and years, we managed to work our way through all three Discworld point and click games.

I still have a guide – printed out by a friend’s dad who had access to the official book and a photocopier – which led us through some of the trickier puzzles.

When my Dad died in 2010, I made a concious effort to return to those games that we’d played when I was younger, including the Discworld series. Getting them working was by no means a simple feat, no longer an issue thanks to ScummVM, but doing so made me realize something very important: the developers were horrible people and it was far more difficult than it needed to be.

With the announcement that Terry Pratchett has died aged 66, I know that it’s time to revisit those titles, perhaps for the last time. They’re not as pretty as they once were and the puzzles are mind-numbing even to someone who has solved them repeatedly for 20 years. But it is a testament to Pratchett’s world that even after two decades those streets are still worth wondering. 

Many people will revisit with Sam Vimes or Granny Weatherwax tonight, picking up their favourite novel as a way of honouring a man that made fantasy fantastic again. Personally, I might dig up my old disks one last time, hear those gloriously discordant opening MIDIs, and sink into nostalgia, to a time when Death SPOKE LIKE THIS and still didn’t seem quite so close to the bone.

You can give to Alzheimer’s Research UK by clicking here.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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