Christmas seems to come earlier every year, and while it’s arguably the best holiday season, let’s embrace it nearer the time and not in August, ok? Our local supermarket had decorations in Summer. Azazel’s Christmas Fable was launched on the 29th November, so there’s nothing wrong with embracing it now.
That said, if you’re a fan of Chrimbo, play it whenever you like. Despite being a seasonal-themed title, the type of gameplay will have you enjoying this any time of the year, but be warned: there are Christmas jingles throughout, so if “Bah, Humbug!” is part of your rhetoric, save it until later in the month.
You play the titular Azazel, an imp from the Underworld handed the task of seeking out the Source of Joy and destroying it. No, it has nothing to do with Teletubbies but good ol’ Saint Nick and his Christmas cheer. Think The Nightmare Before Christmas to some extent. However, will Azazel succeed in his mission, or will he go… native?
Azazel’s Christmas Fable Review
Azazel’s Christmas Fable is a point and click adventure developed by Greg Muhlbock. It’s a throwback to the classic Sierra-like games; only there aren’t those sadistic deaths. The comedy is frequent but inoffensive, familiar pointy and clicky wit, and get this: it has quite the variety for such an indie title. The default mechanics of inventory use and dialogue trees remain, plus there are a healthy amount of puzzles throughout – mandatory and, to be fair, pretty challenging at times. In a good way.
I was impressed at just how good the game is. As expected, a point and click adventure will almost always appeal, but the screenshots and trailer won me over. Azazel’s Christmas Fable is a talkie as well, and though it took a little getting used to the high-pitched voices (and whatever accent the Nutcracker soldier was), they were welcome additions to the game and made it all the more pleasant.
‘Pleasant’ might be interpreted as dismissive. On the contrary, it’s praise. Something is comforting about the game – as much as your favourite Christmas film, hot chocolate, and whatever sentimental thing you’re attached to in the winter. I played entirely on the Steam Deck, and as one might imagine, it works perfectly. It’s hardly demanding.
Do note that the visuals are a little hard to make out at times – as can be expected of the art style – and one of the bonuses in the game is to locate hidden objects in every scene. Though these are relatively easy, pixel hunting is quite common, and there aren’t any hotspot keys. This proved a little tricky using the Steam Deck controls over an actual mouse, but that’s on me, not Greg.
And, while we’re on visuals and alluding to design, Azazel’s Christmas Fable was made with Adventure Game Studio. As a keen adventurer, I’ve stumbled upon this engine quite often, and though a lot of these games that are created with it are fun, they often feel quite samey, using the same assets as one another. If it weren’t for the logo at the beginning of the game, I’d have never known – it looks pretty bespoke to me.
Christmas games will naturally be best suited to the time of the year and arguably a bit gimmicky. Azazel’s Christmas Fable is obviously themed, but it’s a pretty solid indie adventure that hooked me throughout. Aside from a few puzzles that were frustrating through lack of hints or simply one of those door-type puzzles that have to be solved through logic that you can’t wing, it was a really good experience. Somewhat enchanting, too. Do you know what? I will keep this on the Deck for the rest of the month and play again when I have some downtime while the kids are opening presents. Well worth a look for old school adventurers.