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Fairy Tale About Father Frost, Ivan and Nastya

Fairy Tale About Father Frost, Ivan and Nastya


Developer: Centauri Production The title screen.The title screen.
Released: 2000.12.20
Genre: Fantasy
Graphics: Cartoon / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click










Can you hear the sound of balalaika? Can you sense the taste of vodka? Fairy Tale about Father Frost, Ivan and Nastya is a game that tries to incorporate Russian fairy tales, folklore, and culture into its story. A bit surprisingly the game is not of Russian origin, but made by Czech developers. In any case, the English title of the game conveniently tells what it's mostly all about. The story is a modified version of Father Frost story, and the two playable characters in the game are Ivan and Nastya.

The protagonists.The protagonists.
Nastya is a young girl who is living with an evil stepmother. Ivan is a self-centric young guy who cares only about himself. The story is about these two becoming something else than what they are in the beginning, and naturally there's a love story involved. Actually there is a story within story structure, because the story that is implied in the game title is actually something that a grandmother tells to her grandchildren in the game. The game advances in acts of sorts, where you play either as Nastya or Ivan, depending on which part of the game it is, there is no active character switching. In the end the two stories which start as separate narratives, combine into one finale. And along the way there's Russian scenery, traditional sounding Russian music, some borscht, and naturally puzzles that involve vodka.

The game looks and sounds great. The backgrounds are like traditional Russian scenery, and the charaters are well animated, even if a bit stiff. That combined with those Russian-style melodies gives the game a very nice feeling. Here and there are some things which don't necessarily fall seamlessly in, for instance, one can wonder whether lookalikes of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in a Russian town really provide any extra value to the game, or do they draw something away from its Slavic atmosphere. Some animals look a bit too Disney-like too, but since you can talk to animals in the game, and animals even talk back, guess that's an understandable choice.

Town square.Town square.
Voice acting is a bit controversial. On one hand, all voices are pleasant to listen to, and sound like professional actors. On the other hand, most voices are unnaturally slow, and some characters are a bit overacted, whereas some other are underacted. It all gives this feeling that they managed to cast good actors for the roles, but lacked directing when doing the recordings. It doesn't ruin the game, but is noticeable anyway. A bigger problem is that the English localisation is bad. To give examples of this, you can pick up something labelled as "clog" (which is a huge log that you pick up and put into your apparently enormous inventory), and there are three different spellings for borscht. And horse shoe is called "horse-foot", even though the item is that lucky charm. So few more times of reading it all through would have made things more polished. Some conversations are oddly structured, for instance, there can be a greeting attached to a dialogue option about some item, so the protagonist will be greeting the person whom with she is already having a conversation.

The biggest problem in the game is its structure and execution of puzzles. Most of the game is just an endless continuum of fetch quests, to the point where they are laughable at times. One person asks to fetch something which is right in front of his eyes. In another case you need to find food for someone, but it can be delivered only the next day in the game, which isn't unheard of in adventure games for sure, but looks always a bit strange. In some cases the game mechanics completely changes without any warning. One such case is a very gentle maze, which is easy to solve if you know how the mechanics work, but it can be a bit tricky to figure it out. In some cases what button does what is not clear. Basically the left mouse button does an action, and right button inspects things. But in many cases both buttons do the very same thing, so the player can never be completely sure which is triggered by a chosen mouse button click.

Funny robbers.Funny robbers.
In addition to wonderfully charming Russian feeling, there a couple of completely hilarious situations in the game. One of them involves meeting a group of robbers in the forest, another one involves a very unexpected and completely random solution to using (c)logs as a means to enter one area in the game. To balance that, there are a couple of unexpectedly rough parts in the game, one involving even a form of torture. That goes a bit beyond "this is ideal for children aged 6 years as their first game as the PC control system is for the beginner" statement that is used to describe the game. Another amusing innovation in the game is when talking to a bat hanging upside down, that bat's subtitles are also upside down on the screen. It makes them very hard to read, but looks funny for sure.

There is no way to get killed or get permanently stuck in the game, but unexpected game mechanics combined with some very random puzzle solutions mean that playing the game through won't be that straightforward an experience, although there aren't any super hard puzzles in the game. The Russian aspect of the game is undoubtedly its strongest point. There are lots of other games out there that are based on fairy tales, but the approach in this game is quite unique. The bottom line is, except for a couple of moments here and there, Fairy Tale About Father Frost, Ivan and Nastya is fun in its own way. Nyet, it isn't a perfect game. Da, it is nice enough to play nonetheless.

The door is locked.The door is locked.



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