Monday, July 11, 2011

Improbable Island: Probably the Craziest Thing on the Internet

There are a lot of games that I eventually gave up on, not through any fault of the game.  Improbable Island is one such game, left behind due to a hectic schedule, and a desire to tear myself away from the internet for a while.  However, the game itself was a delight, and having recently checked it out again, they’ve made some good additions to it.
It's Hare-brained... get it?

Improbable Island is a browser game (if I have the terminology right), and so is simply a website, with no software to install or whatever.  If you’re reading this, you can probably play Improbable Island.  It’s also free, making it another bonus.  On top of that, it is advertisement free, bonus again (it survives on donations).  It is a solid RPG, in that you kill monsters to level up, buy new equipment, and unlock new races/equipment/etc.  Also, there is a large role-playing community, with many players creating complex and improbable personas to interact and create a number of sub-plots on the island, beyond the central story.

Basically, Improbable Island is a bizarre island filled with crazy monsters generated by a terrifying machine.  You and the other residents of the island have been press ganged into fighting the war.  And it’s being recorded for the entertainment of the world.  Awesome.   The introduction to the game explains it with far more style.  However, with the amount of improbable energy permeating the island, you don’t necessarily stay human for long.  Players can become zombies, mutants, midgets, robots, and others.  Your equipment ranges from the excellent – body armour and chainsaws (and that’s just to start with!) – to the totally inane – pink frilly panties and butter knives.  Your mission is to survive and destroy the infernal device creating all of this madness.  You probably won’t succeed.

The joy of this game is threefold.  First, the basic game, its mechanics, the world you can explore and the story and characters that shape it are all fantastic and can keep you entertained for a very long time.  I would happily play it again just for the game itself, without anything else.  Second, the other players make an entire other half to the game, creating guilds, houses, communities and vastly creative story lines and sub-plots which give the island a depth which you have to pay attention to discover.  I played the game for months before I discovered some of the intricacies the greatest players were weaving.  Finally, part of the joy of Improbable Island comes simply from its... improbability.  The creator of this website is originally British, and has a brilliant wit which is shown in every facet of the island.  This does mean that people from other countries may not always grasp some of the jokes, but I think everyone can enjoy it.  The monsters are insane – from Paper Tigers to Santa Claws to Your Own Tongue – and every element, every click in the game is filled with surprise, uncertainty, delight, and yes, improbability.  There really is no other word for it.  Ok there is... randomness probably fits too.

I heartily recommend this to anyone with too much time on their hands.  Get in there, take up the fight with the Improbability Drive, join a guild, create a story, and discover the wonders of Improbable Island!

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