The galaxy's leading burger chain has found an amazing business model. Instead of growing the necessary ingredients, a time and money consuming process, they just harvest them from existing planets. One complete planet at a time, leaving the world barren and lifeless, Galactus-style. Their next target is a planet called “Earth”, supposedly the host of a particularly protein-rich species called “humans”. Perfect for burger meat!
The catch: based on intergalactic ethics rules, only unintelligent beings are allowed to be processed. So the aliens have to perform a representative test, for which they randomly select a regular Joe Average. Commercial interests prevail, so the test is slightly rigged. The fate of the human race seems to be sealed. The final process step goes wrong, however: the protagonist is accidentally not only sent back to his home town, but also one hour back in time, with his memory fully intact. This gives him the chance to prepare and redo the tests, and maybe trick the tricksters so that mankind can survive.
Sounds like a bit of a freaky plot, doesn't it? The developers of Sanctuary Woods went for an environment harkening back to classic Looney Tunes cartoons (appropriate) coupled with point & click adventure gameplay harkening back to(inappropriate). How so? The in-game hour will, of course, run out at some point and so our protagonist will be beamed up into the spaceship again and re-tested. The same way this annoying wizard would randomly appear and re-capture the protagonist in the older game, forcing the player to re-escape and re-do a lot of other things repeatedly.
Which, for better or worse, is also the case in. Actually, the player finds himself in a time loop, so there is no way to really fail. Not managing the tests, you can always try again, as the same time-lapse will just occur again as well. So the inherent mechanic really makes sense in the way of enabling a carefree, death and dead-end free play-style. On the other hand, the very same twist indeed forces you to re-do things all too often (only “passed” tests are performed automatically again).
This is especially painful due to some other restrictions in the game engine. For examples, lengthy cutscenes (including the test itself) can't be skipped. Dialogue is only spoken out loud without on-screen subtitles, which is not just a roadblock for hearing-impaired player, but also implies further delays for fast readers. Further on dialogues, they are handled through a multiple choice interface which turns out to be completely useless; usually, you have to exhaust all options anyway.
Some illogical puzzles among the generally easy ones make a number of repetitive iterations necessary. Even more importantly, though, the cutscene on the alien spaceship only reveals the next test, but not the subsequent ones! So the player can only look for ways to pass one at a time, before searching all locations again after being confronted with a new challenge.
Controls, like the cartoon graphics with their fluid animations, are one of the game's assets, on the other hand. The cursor reacts to hotspots (which are large enough not to miss them), icons are intuitively clear. The limited setting lends itself well to experimentation within a restricted timeframe.
So if you can live with the humor (which does go over the top at times), not all is bad. It's just not too good, either, though.is just a run-of-the-mill production which does not make its own core mechanic work in a particularly fun way. The effectively short length at least limits the impact of some bad design decisions somewhat.
Technical notes: due to a special copy protection, there is an issue running the game in the Dosbox emulator. To get it working, please download the linked DOS32a extender, place the executable into the game directory (after installation) and run:
dos32a burger.exe -c