Thod, Thod II and Thod III
Reviewed by Wendy Mann
The Thod games are three very enjoyable, cartoon style, 'indie' games (i.e. games that are made by an 'independent' developer, not commercial games). They were developed by a young man named Joe Townsend, who did an excellent job along with his (apparently) small team, and they are all available for download FOR FREE, as are several of Joe's other games (see below).
The first Thod game was released in 2002, with Thod II and Thod III following within the next couple of years. They are all point-and-click adventure games that run seamlessly on a platform called 'The Games Factory' (i.e. you do not need to download anything except the game itself and the DLLs... see 'Download' below), and they all install and run well on Windows XP (they do not need DOSBox or any other 'support').
Like most adventure games, they rely on conversations, puzzle situations (e.g. how DO you get the boat out of the tree?), finding items, and figuring out how to use items appropriately. Both of the first two games have a fairly satisfactory ending (you achieve what you set out to do, but the situation is left open enough to hint at a sequel), and the ending for Thod III finishes off the trilogy nicely.
The games are logically designed, and the puzzles are also logical but really make one think carefully at times. In fact, I got stuck once and had to resort to the walkthrough because my thinking had gone up the wrong path. But for the most part, I played the games without a walkthrough, and if I can manage to do so (I am no genius), then so can most people. Later I thoroughly enjoyed seeing, from the walkthrough, just how I had personally misinterpreted some of the 'clues' along the way. But there was nothing there where I felt "no way, that was unfair!!!" It was all very logical, and the apparently deliberate ambiguity of a few of the clues (red herrings?) added to the interest.
There is also a lovely thread of humor that pops up many times in the games, and I actually found myself laughing out loud several times. One particularly nice example of the humor involved a reference to 'Scrying' and the Internet in Thod III. (Per Wikipedia, " Scrying, also called crystal gazing or peeping, is a practice in magic that involves seeing things supernaturally in a medium, e.g. a mirror, usually for purposes of divination or fortune telling".) The reference to it in the game was very much to the point!!!
The controls are very easy to use once you figure them out (see Interface/Controls below). There are no real action sequences, no mazes, and you cannot die. And the games have no overall time limit, which I was personally glad about because, as an older gamer, I am no longer as fast as some games demand. Plus there is no blood or gruesomeness in the games. There are skeletons, a dragon, etc, but they would not frighten very young players, in my opinion.
The quality of the games is very good considering its small team of creators, and I can happily recommend these games to any point-and-click adventure game fan. They have quite a lot of depth, and are fairly long for games written with so few resources. I personally enjoyed them and will definitely play them again sometime soon, just for fun. They hold your attention very well, and have an interesting story and puzzles that keep you coming back for another go at them.
In Thod I, a young man called Fudd is drawn into another dimension / world, meets interesting characters, and has to figure out how to defeat an evil being called Thod, and save the world. As part of the process, he has to figure out how to obtain the 3 spells that will ultimately enable him to defeat Thod. Along the way his friend is kidnapped also, which adds more interest to the plot.
Thod II continues the story. In fact, this game has a long, exceptionally well-done introduction that takes you through the story of Thod I, and brings you up to the starting scene of Thod II. Fudd sees his world momentarily merge with the world of Jert, and discovers that the evil wizard Larfor is trying to merge the two worlds so as to be able to get at the Thod stone in Fudd's world, in order to gain Thod's power to rule the two worlds. Fudd goes through the portal, only to discover that he is now present in both worlds simultaneously. Fudd, in his own world, must get all of the people out of the cyber cafe so that he can blow it up to destroy the portal. And Thod, in the world of Jert, must try to prevent the evil Larfor from using the portal to come into Fudd's world in order to obtain the Thod stone from out of the sea, and hence gain power over both worlds.
Thod III once again begins with an equally well-done introduction that gives you an overview of the story so far. Now Fudd has landed up in the Spirit World, and must find a way to return to the Living World (comprised of 2 merged worlds, Fudd's World and Jert World) so as to prevent Thod from reuniting with his body and taking over the 2 merged worlds. And it is great fun trying to accomplish that goal and foil Thod's evil plan for world domination.
As you can see, the story is very interesting, and there are several unexpected twists in it that add to the entertainment. It also includes many unique characters, who give you useful information to carry the story along as well as clues as to what to do or where to go next. And several of them (e.g. the Hippy Wizard, Kat, Farlor, Vagrant, etc) appear in more than one game, which adds to the feeling of continuity as the story unfolds.
Download and Walkthrough
Joe's games Thod 1,2 and 3, A Pirate's Life 1,2, and 3, and the Sephware Christmas Chronicles are all available for download FOR FREE from his website (see the link below this review). Hopefully he will also make his other 2 games, Saving the City 1 and 2, available sometime in the future.
Important Note: You will also need to download the DLLs, and then copy them into the same folder that the game is installed into on your PC. Per the readme.txt file: "You may get a pop-up message saying there are missing dll files. These are downloadable here, and may need to be copied either to the game's folder or to the Windows system directory, presumably: C:\windows\system or C:\windows\system\32".
Joe Townsend wrote a walkthrough for Thod I, and Wendy Mann has written walkthroughs for Thod II and Thod III, in case anybody gets completely stuck and needs help. You can get them here also, available from the links below this review.
Is DOSBox Needed?
Game installation is a self-contained .exe function. You do NOT use DOSBox.
Interface / Controls
The controls are very easy to use once you figure them out. The Read Me file does not describe all the controls, so here are the most important ones summarized in one place:
Thod is a 3rd person, 2D, point-and-click adventure, with all the action available on the screen. The view of the playing area is mostly from the side.
All actions are controlled by the mouse and by using the action icons and spell icons. The action icons include a foot/hand icon (which I thought was a clever idea) for walk/pickup/use, plus talk, examine, and inventory icons. The games are fairly linear. You can move freely about the world map, but certain new destinations will only appear once you have triggered the relevant destination by finding something or talking to someone that 'logically' leads you to that destination. You can wander about and explore freely within a given area, of course.
The conversations sometimes give you a choice of responses to select from. The conversations can be surprisingly long at times, too. Happily the inventory can hold all of the items needed. In fact, each item appears in a fixed place in the inventory.
In Fudd's World, you travel around via the map by finding a place name with your cursor and then clicking on that place name on the map. But scan carefully with the cursor... some places are not obvious on the map at first glance. (To reach the map, simply walk off most screens.) In the Spirit World, however, you travel from Spirit room to Spirit room.
There are only 3 saved game slots in each game, so you have to overwrite previous saved games once you have used up the 3 slots. You cannot die, but I still recommend saving regularly for convenience sake.
Graphics, Music, Sound Effects
The graphics are good and I really liked the vibrant colors and the cartoonish style. It is easy to see what items are, and the characters are very believable.
The music and sound effects are quite good, especially given that this is an 'indie' game. I actually enjoyed quite a few of the sound effects, and I remember laughing out loud at one. Speech is non-existent and everything is conveyed via text boxes. But lack of speech does not detract from the game.
Puzzles and Gameplay
The puzzles are fairly typical of point-and-click adventure games. Some of them require fairly good reasoning, and although a walkthrough is available if you get really stuck at some point (like I did), it is far more fun to try to work them out for yourself. If you use the walkthrough without having explored, examined, and talked, the walkthrough simply tells you the actions needed and then you do not understand why you need to do those actions, so you spoil the logic and fun of the game.
The puzzles consist mainly of:
The challenge level / difficulty ranges from easy to medium. There are no mazes (hooray!), and no mini-games or the like.
Longevity... The games are medium length to fairly long, with a surprising quantity of puzzles, and there are lots of enjoyable features and interesting conversations, so they keep your attention very well. However, you would probably only want to play them once, or at most twice (just for the fun of it).
Bugs / Hiccups
I found no serious bugs or problems.
In a few places, you may have to click an inventory item on a spot more than once for it to work (although be aware that if you are clicking the wrong item on the spot, it will not work then either). And on the road outside Murne, when I had clicked on a label / hotspot and then took my cursor elsewhere, sometimes it duplicated part of the label elsewhere (which was not a real problem, it just did not look too good).
A minor irritation was that you have to click precisely ON a conversation response (i.e. on a letter, not the background). But once you realize this, it is no problem as long as you are precise. Here is Joe’s own explanation: "What you have to be sure to do is make sure you actually click on the text itself. Making a selection won't work if you click on the black background behind the text." (Thanks for the info / solution, Joe!)
I personally recommend these games highly. They are great fun. The graphics are well-done within the cartoon style, conversations are interesting, the story is clever, the puzzles and connections are logical, and they are very satisfying to play, especially when you solve a puzzle/situation. Playing all 3 games in sequence makes it an even more enjoyable experience... the synergy/cumulative progression is excellent, and it becomes one satisfyingly looong game!!! And for maximum enjoyment, try to play it without a walkthrough (although there are a couple of points where you may eventually need to resort to a walkthrough).
Yes, Thod I, II and III are 3 interesting and attention holding 'indie' games that I am sure many people will thoroughly enjoy.
© May 2008 Wendy Mann
Developed (2002, 2003 & 2004) by Joe Townsend / Sephware.
Not Rated: Would be rated E for Everyone
Minimum System Requirements:
PC: Pentium Processor; Windows 95 / 2000 / ME / XP; 32 MB RAM (64 MB Recommended); CD-ROM Drive; SVGA Video Card; Sound Blaster or Compatible Sound Card; MB of Free Hard Drive Space; Mouse
Where To Download These Free Games:
The three DLL Files needed to run Thod I, II and III, A Pirate's Life I, II and III and Sephware Christmas Chronicles.
Walkthroughs or Hints: