Enter the Story: Les Miserables

Enter the Story: Les Miserables is an adventure game based on Victor Hugo’s famous 19th century novel Les Miserables. It follows the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict, who is constantly trying to hide from his past.

Chris Tolworthy puts an interesting spin on the French tale, with some lovely yet minimalistic visuals. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to understand what exactly is going on or you’re meant to be doing next, due to an odd control scheme and confusing interface.

 Les Miserables

Rather than playing as Jean, you take the role of his deceased neice, Peri. Jean’s sister is so poor that she cannot look after the baby properly, and she dies soon after birth.

Upon arriving in heaven, Peri is transformed into an adult, and meets an old uncle. He tells her that to earn her wings, she must go back down to Earth and help Jean, who is currently being held in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. Peri is able to visit Earth and walk around as a ghostly figure, but she cannot touch or talk to people – she can only influence their decisions.

Double-clicking on people will allow Peri to hear their thoughts and conversations. Guided by her uncle, she must find each necessary individual and convince him or her to act in specific ways. This is done via the right mouse button – one click on a person will highlight the pointer, then right clicking on an object or place will plant a suggestion in that person’s head. If they think it’s a good idea, they’ll act on it.

 Les Miserables

It’s an interesting system, but it can be a little confusing at times. Right clicks can be carried out of one scene and into any other scene, hence a character can be made to interact with things that aren’t anywhere near them. It’s a strange idea, but once you’ve got your head around it, there’s no problem.

Traversing Paris is a pleasing experience thanks to the unique visual setting. Buildings and backdrops look like they’ve been ripped straight from old photographs, while people wandering about are black and white silhouettes. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and the intriguing combination works pleasantly.

Pressing M brings up the map of Paris and its surrounding cities. This is the best way to get about, and you’ll frequently be jumping to this screen. However, it’s not initially clear that clicking on the other city names will take you there, nor is this pointed out at any point.

 Les Miserables

The game is also really difficult to follow. It’s not essential that you’ve read the book, but it definitely helps. From the very beginning, I was quite clueless as to what I was meant to be doing.

Fortunately, pressing F1 will allow Peri to visit her uncle in the clouds, who will give tips on what to do next. Yet even with this guide, I still found myself completely stumped at times. It’s hard enough working out where you’re meant to be going next, let alone what you’re meant to be doing there.

For those who have read Les Miserables, Enter the Story will provide you with a whole new perspective on the classic novel. For anyone else, you’ll most likely have no idea what you’re meant to be doing. Still, it’s worth downloading the game for free simply for the interesting visuals.