DOCTOR LANGESKOV, THE TIGER, AND THE TERRIBLY CURSED EMERALD Review
This first sentence about DOCTOR LANGESKOV, THE TIGER, AND THE TERRIBLY CURSED EMERALD: A WHIRLWIND HEIST really isn’t about anything, it’s just kind of there to establish the game’s apocalyptically long name so that I can refer to it as DOCTOR LANGESKOV for the rest of the article. Now that the veil’s been lifted, DOCTOR LANGESKOV is the third game from William Pugh, co-creator of THE STANLEY PARABLE and THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE, bearing striking similarities to both. Like THE STANLEY PARABLE, the game consists of the player wandering around an improbable environment at the behest of a pushy, eccentric British narrator, voiced this time by Simon Amstell.
The self-aware Narrator seems to be in charge of managing the entirety of the game, and dealing with the player is not something he wants to do. You can’t really blame him though; he’s got one player to deal with already who’s playing the actual game, and here you are, wandering around backstage in the middle of a strike by the rest of the game’s crew.
Let’s back up for a moment.
DOCTOR LANGESKOV is unique because it is a “live” game, meaning only one person can play it at once, and you just have to wait your turn, probably due to the fact that most of the team running the game have gone on strike due to safety issues involving the game’s namesake tiger and other deadly traps. Having nothing else to do, you might as well help out the game’s execution behind the scenes, activating triggers and NPCs manually in a clever portrayal of gaming that likens code to an actual backstage of a theater.
One can only imagine the perils the ZOO TYCOON team faced
Depending on how thoroughly you explore the game, gameplay can last between 20 and 45 minutes, immediately differentiating itself from THE STANLEY PARABLE. That game’s nigh-infinite replayability is thanks just as much to it’s length as it’s amount of permutations. This isn’t to say that DOCTOR LANGESKOV doesn’t have any replay level. I played through it five times at the time of this article’s writing, messing with different elements to see how I can affect the next player’s playthrough. But while Pugh’s previous works can be considered feature games, DOCTOR LANGESKOV is decidedly a short.
Another important reason to replay the game is that in addition to Simon Amstell’s awkwardly hilarious voiceover work, DOCTOR LANGESKOV features additional narration by Justin Roiland, the voice behind the titular characters of RICK AND MORTY, unlocked only after first completing the game. Roiland’s performance in DOCTOR LANGESKOV sounds directly lifted from RICK AND MORTY, so you’re guaranteed a good time. Which, for a game that can take 20 minutes to complete and costs nothing (Unless you’d like to donate to developer Crows Crows Crows), is an absolutely justifiable reason to pick it up.
Also for its authentic labor strike action
DOCTOR LANGESKOV brings an interesting perspective for people who are usually on the audience’s side of a production, be it a film, game, theater production, or anything of the sort. Having been on the other side of the curtain for two out of those three I can concur that the general mood and tone of the Narrator in DOCTOR LANGESKOV more or less accurately reflects what’s going on behind the scenes of most productions. Like THE STANLEY PARABLE, Pugh’s commentary on the design and development of games, and all works of art by extension, is equally entertaining to both consumers and creators alike. It’s free, it’s short, and it’ll give you a giggle. Go for it.
Reviewed on PC