Fairy Tale -
About Father Frost, Ivan & Nastya
Release date Great Britain: 03/2003
Developer: Bohemia Interactive Studio
Game language and manual: English
A review by slydos 7th May 2004
Fairy Tale - Father Frost, Ivan & Nastya - is a long title for the English version of the fairy tale adventure by Bohemia Interactive from Prague. Fairy Tale leans very strongly against the Russian fairy tale movie Morozko (Father Frost) from the 60's. Both, film and game, are composed of a set of Slavic fairy tales and their protagonists, however follow primarily the two folk traditions around Father Frost and the witch Baba Yaga.
In our adventure game we may embody not only the farmer's daughter Nastienka or briefly Nastya, but also slip equally and alternating into the role of Ivan, or as his mother calls him: Vanya.
Nastya must work hard even before sunrise
The woman on the right side is the official matchmaker of the village
The endearing, hard-working Nastienka is tyrannised by her unpleasant stepmother, who prefers her german daughter Marfusha in all interests and supports her in her laziness. By the way, not that you think, Nastya's father is dead or so, he only hasn't much to say in this household. He plays the role of the henpecked husband, who carries out the instructions of his wife.
After Nastya used her little spare time between her arduous work to talk with Stumpy, the stump, she meets the ruthless egomaniac Ivan, who is looking for a bride and puts an engagement ring on the finger of our heroine without hesitation. Nastienka seems to sense his good marrow (at least she seems to prefer the macho instead of the situation at home), but first the spirits of the forest punish Ivan, to feel humbled and learn helpfulness and so they transformed him - into a bear! Now both, Nastya and Ivan, must pass a set of tests, before they finally find together again and we can experience the usual fairy tale Happy End.
With Fairy Tale the clear moral message is provided to the young target group that sympathy and helpfulness have a high social value. While Nastya already progressed far in this regard, Ivan must still learn his lessons. Even if the scenes mediate a quite idyllic impression, the characters have all together nothing to do with romantic aloofness, but manage their affairs pragmatically reasonable.
Our fairy tale adventure is told with much humor and winking. We learn e.g. how looking for a wife and wedding negotiations ran off in rural Russia and must smile inevitably, when the constantly grouching Marfucha bangs her fist on the table or stamps her foot on the ground demanding: "I want a husband!" Then even the constantly nagging mother pipes down and tries to appease the daughter.
Fairy Tale comes on 1 CDROM with English manual in a DVD box. In the system requirements no Windows XP is noted, but installation and start of the game runs smoothly and automatically here too. One can select between the minimum installation of 210 MB and the full installation of 420 MB.
The nearly entirely mouse-controlled game (only for the main menu we must use the ESC-key), begins with an intro, in which we experience the farmhouse at night. Everyone is sleeping... except a blood-thursty mosquito, which pricks Marfusha, and the clamour starts. The stepmother, just awakened, first spits the usual invectives against Nastya and sends her outside into the darkness, so that she can already settle some work, before the family gets up.
The cursor looks like a sparkling snowflake and changes its shape depending upon possible action. We control Nastya/Ivan with it, click on one of the hotspots marked by texts with the left or right mouse button. With this we get an explanation, take up an object or talk to a character. Scene exits are indicated by arrows (likewise marked by texts). The inventory is faded in, if we drive the mouse to the top of the screen.
That can disturb sometimes, i.e. if a screen exit or other hotspot is located just behind the translucent inventory, since one usually takes up an inventory object with that click, instead of excecuting the desired action. But with a right-click the item can be stowed away fast and we can make a new attempt. The inventory is scrollable and we get a text description of objects by right-clicking.
The ESC-key leads to the main menu where we can find the options Save and Load. The unlimited savegames can be added by texts and keep the current scene attached as small picture. Settings of sound, colors, special effects and sub-titles can be made via the option menu. A comfortable simple, intuitive detectable handling, which lets you directly dunk into the game without learning phase.
Standard setting is 64K color, we can change that in the option menu into 16,7 million colors/Trucolor. Both, the animated graphics and the manageable number of backgrounds are handpainted, by far not spartanic, but also not too detailed and overloaded. They have intensive colors and expression without simply imitating the Disney-style.
Some scenes, e.g. Nastya's farmyard at home or the market place can both be visited at day and at night too, likewise the seasonal change was considered - each chapter of the game is dedicated to one of the 4 seasons.
The sound effects fit, but there is not always a convergence of picture and sound - e.g. although we hear steps in the snow as noise, there are nevertheless no footsteps seen. All scenes teem with noises, as chirping of crickets and birds, quaking of frogs etc., etc..
As we leave a main location, we reach an overview, which offers us the accessible places with small screenshots.
The movements of Nastya/Ivan and the NPCs look authentical, facial expressions and gestures are economically however realistically used.
The film scenes and some interactive parts are accompanied by Russian folk songs (can be switched off) with melancholic-longingly Balalaika melodies. If we start dialogues, the music is damped accordingly, so that it's always easy to understand them acoustically without even changing the volume.
The total dialogue time amounts to 4 hours after manufacturer data. In the story that forms the framework the fairy tale is read by grandma to her grandchildren as bedtime story. The characters are well dubbed by English professional speakers. The likewise English sub-titles can be switched on/off at any time. The dialogue contents goes beyond the basic necessities and gives us a view of the relation structure of the characters: If Nastya is asked for her name, she says: "My name is Nastienka, my father calls me Nastya, my stepmother names me 'Poisonous Viper'." We recognize that her sad relationship to her stepmother for her goes without saying and is accepted by her. She only talks to Stumpy the stump about her sorrow.
We not only talk to the normal human inhabitants but also to ghosts, legend figures, animals and plants. Not only worth hearing but also seeing is the conversation with Shrieky, the bat!
The puzzle structure in Fairy Tale is based on finding and using objects and conducting conversations. Inventory objects can be combined. The degree of difficulty is easy nearly throughout and is adequate for the young target group.
All puzzles, which can be solved in different order up to a certain degree within a chapter, do result logically from the story and you don't have to do a lot of walking. The number of inventory items and accessible scenes increases in the course of the game, so that one must think more but never gets stuck. In addition there is a balanced number of hotspots, which have explaining but no puzzle-relevant character. Thereby the players are brought to deeper preoccupation with the scenes and get more decorating information. There are no action/reactivity elements and no Game Overs.
I would like to indicate the average game length without use of a walkthrough with 12 hours. That is a praiseworthy duration (and appropriate price-performance ratio) for a classic inventory/dialogue-based adventure game for children, which gets along without elongations like mini games, labyrinths etc..
I found a bug during a longer film sequence, which prevented me from going on with the game. This error couldn't be turned off under Windows ME too and could only be bypassed by a savegame. Otherwise the game ran smoothly on the 2 test computers.
A classic fairy tale adventure, that can be recommended to all adventure fans - regardless of which age -, who are willing to cope with the easily understandable English texts and extend their language skills besides. Fairy Tale is to a large extent nonviolent (if you except marooning a person at extreme temperatures below freezing point and the toasting of the witch) and forwards - like nearly all fairy tales - the development of moral values - one learns early enough, how handy ruthlessness can come in. Surely a lot of profound matters would occur to true fairy tale specialists, I can only say, that Fairy Tale without detouring directly hits heart and senses and so is well entertaining both, beginners and advanced players.
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
Minimal system requirements:Windows 98/ME/2000 Pentium 166 32 MB RAM 210 MB on hard disk 2 MB graphic card Sound card 8x CDROM Mouse
- Windows XP
- P IV 1,6 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 16x DVD-ROM (Artec WRA-A40)
- nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
- Sound card DirectX-compatible
Ivan takes the view: I'm a hero - I don't need any money!
Even the weather isn't inclined towards this unlucky man
The monastery has a spacious cellar
The two craftsmen resemble very much Stan & Ollie
The night watchman is not very courageous
This slender guys are guarding the house of the witch
The fortune teller helps Nastya
The dragon is blocking the way
Opposite of Father Frost is Madam Summer