Remember the good old days when doctors used the stars and instinct to diagnose the locals. None of this evidence-based rubbish. Astrologaster is a hilarious point-and-click adventure game in Elizabethan England bursting with fun.
In Astrologaster you are Simon Forman or Doctor Forman to some. That moniker of Doctor should be questionable, as you haven’t yet got your medical license. What do you do if you don’t have a license? Use the stars and guess, of course. Simon is an astrological ‘doctor’ in the 1590s and has had some success with cleaning up some plague victims in London he’s now the talk of the town when it comes to a tummy bug or headache.
Your reputation proceeds you and the local upper-class community know your name. They come along telling you of their illnesses and misfortune. More often than not there’s a little gossip thrown into the conversation and diagnosis. Who’s sleeping with who amongst other juicy gossips. Astrologaster reminds me of an episode of Blackadder. Funny, saucy, witty and clever. That was a wildly successful formula on TV and that British charm has been translated very well to this game.
The folk of the town come along to your office, tell you a little bit about what’s wrong with them and then a zodiac chart appears with a few diagnoses to choose from. There’s plenty of humour and clever jokes about the time period, so it’s not a chore to read through the game – which is essentially an interactive story that you work your way through. The characters are loveable, funny and you want to spend time with them.
The objective of the game is to make your clients happy and get that medical license you’ve always wanted. Patients have a ‘happiness’ meter and this fills up when they like your diagnosis. Once you have successfully impressed someone enough they’ll give you a nice letter of recommendation and you’ll need to collect 8 of these to take to the College of Physicians and get that elusive medical license.
The voice acting in the game is top-notch and the singing is next level. As well as being funny and entertaining, the songs are full of Tudor related info and are teaching me a little about the time period (as the game is based on real characters). It’s almost like a mini-musical made just for you. Not everyone who comes to see you is actually even ill. Sometimes they just want to share, talk and gossip. More often than not they start up talking about their ailment, but then the conversation will shift to the good stuff. The patients that come by have questionable morals, objectives and are most certainly liars. That’s not to say Doctor Forman is morally above the situation, oh no, he’s just as able to tell a white lie as the next person. All in all the characters are fun and brought to life through great voice acting and song.
As well as the humour and entertainment there’s good history here too. The game throws little nuggets of Elizabethan history at you in terms of battles and coup attempts. Simon Forman is a real character (and once you’re done you should look him up) which makes for an engrossing tale.
I really enjoyed the humour in Astrologaster. Having spent many hours watching Blackadder and playing adventure games this combination really appealed to me, and I wasn’t let down. The premise of a doctor using star charts to diagnose his unaware patient’s works and making your way towards your medical license is a fun experience. It’s not too long either so you could probably play this game in a few sessions. Always entertaining, with patients revealing layers of detail about their husbands, wives and neighbours.