Like old-school text adventure games and novels, Tally Ho wants to spark the reader’s imagination with a stripped-down interactive story. At the start, the protagonist’s employer, Rory Wintermint, has landed in a bit of gambling debt and, fearing a visit from violent thugs, plans to charm Aunt Primrose into providing a bailout. And from here the story expands. The user can determine how the tale plays out within certain limits. User actions can range from diligent to downright negligent, and the different pathways enhance the app’s replay value. This is also boosted through the presence of achievements, awarded for directing the narrative in interesting ways. But although the user can take different routes through the story, the same endpoint will be reached (at least in the opening chapters). It’s like in life though: it’s about the journey rather than the destination. I know that’s not what fans of Mass Effect 3 want to hear.
There aren’t any ‘wrong’ answers among the user’s choices. Each selection simply pushes the narrative along in a slightly different way. Remember how annoying it was to arbitrarily die in text adventures? How that stupid bridge would collapse into lava or something? So annoying. But in Tally Ho, a ‘bad’ outcome for the character would be a disappointed dinner guest rather than a hideous death, so the user can experiment away.
A text-only adventure isn’t for everyone. The story unfolds slowly, and the humour can be subtle. It’s for those who have the patience and focus to sit with a book. Illustrations and animations might broaden the app’s appeal, but they aren’t necessary because it’s a well-written story with quirky characters.
User actions can range from diligent to downright negligent.
Tally Ho has some interesting socially-inclusive aspects: Rory can be male or female. The user can also be either or even gender non-binary, and they can engage in straight, gay, bi, and even polyamorous romances. Whatever floats your boat; they’ve got it covered. The story does involve a fox hunt though which, depending on how it plays out, could be controversial. It takes place further in the story than was read for this review, but hopefully there are user options to sabotage the hunt. Yeah, leave those cute foxes alone!
At any point the user can access their stats, which give an overview of how their character is shaping up based on their choices. This section also shows the strength of the user’s reputation with other characters and with a mysterious secret society. You can become a member if you play your cards right. From then, life will be all swanky parties and ritual sacrifices…I assume.
On Android the first two chapters are free, and the rest can be purchased for £5.49. This will also remove the ads, which is good because when the banner is on screen it can be quite intrusive. Yeah, I’m so immersed in the 1920s right now thinking about the Amazon App!
Tally Ho isn’t for those who lack the patience to read, but it’s worth it for those who do. It has a humorous story, encourages experimentation, and the user choices and achievements mean that the app can be revisited many times. It’s range of pronoun and romance options are commendable, but the inclusion of foxhunting might be controversial. It’s an absorbing tale and provides the opportunity to break bad as a butler.
|Humorous story. Encourages Experimentation. Socially inclusive. Has replay value.||Narrow appeal. Intrusive ads in free version.|