I played “Magpie Takes the Train”, thinking all the way through that it had been written by JJ Guest, who wrote the earlier “Alias: the Magpie”, winner of the 2018 IF competition. Only at the end, when I began to write up my notes, did I learn this was actually an authorized sequel written by Mathbrush, another highly accomplished IF personality. Maybe I should learn to read blurbs more carefully. But alas, the reason I’ve taken to playing IF is that I’m not an attentive reader; the interactive format forces me to engage more actively with what I’m seeing on the page.
“Magpie Takes the Train” shares several features in common with its inspiration: an entertaining detective farce involving frequent costume changes; dialogue with an amusing cast of upstairs-downstairs society figures (but curiously set in the states). Both games have a well implemented full parser interface.
This game differs from “Alias” in its scope. Whereas Alias was a full length game, with multiple rooms and individual scenes, “Train” is an elaborate one-room puzzle box. The goal, as indicated in the blurb, is to steal a coveted gemstone from the owner’s private train car. There is a time limit on completion, but a generous one and it may be possible to win the game in one play through. I gave myself the luxury of several restarts to experience the full space of the game. Each costume endows the player with a different set of powers and dialogue outcomes. Some of the actions are sequence and time dependent. It took me a little more than an hour to finish, checking the hints only once for a puzzle related to the Viscount. Turned out I just needed to examine the Viscount more carefully.
A delightful addition to the Magpie canon.