Discworld II: Missing Presumed? is the second game in the illustrious Discworld franchise. Written and created by the wonderful Terry Pratchett, this game was many gamers introduction to the world of the Disc. In it you follow the most loved character in the series, Rincewind as he uncovers the mystery behind the disappearance of Death.
Developed by Perfect Entertainment, a company with close ties to the legendary Psygnosis. The art style is lovingly handdrawn and plays like an animated film.
Discworld II: Missing Presumed? has many of the classic tropes of a point and click adventure game. Absurd puzzles, nonsensical plot lines and often frustrating trial and error gameplay. Yet it holds a place in every adventure games heart. But what is it that makes this game stand out? Who is the main character? And why has Discworld bowed out from the gaming world?
Who is Rincewind?
Arguably the most popular character in the Discworld series, Rincewind is a wizard enrolled in the Unseen University of Ankh Morpork. He made his very first appearance in the first book of the Discworld series, The Colour of Magic, back in 1983.
Described as an absolute failure of a wizard (his hat is even misspelt with an extra Z), Rincewind finds himself on the worst end of every situation. As a cynical coward, it is difficult to see how he could be the hero in any capacity. However his wit and cunning (as well as his impressive sprint) make him more than a match for the Discs many dangers.
Voiced by the brilliant Eric Idle, Rincewind is the worlds worst wizard, yet also its most important. If you want to know why, its best to read the books. But enjoying the games is not directly impacted by whether you’ve read any in the series.
What happens in Discworld II then?
The city of Ankh Morpork has a problem. People are just not staying dead and noone knows why. If there is one thing a wizard hates more than anything else, it’s having a funeral rudely interupted by the person who is supposed to be dead. That’s just bad sport.
Playing as the ever flawed Rincewind, the faculty of Unseen University tasks you to summon Death (thats right – the grim reaper) to answer for his laziness. Cue satirical humour, fourth wall breaking and a musical number titled “That’s death” and the adventure begins.
Why is ‘Discworld II: Missing Presumed?’ so good?
A cast of British celebrities, a best selling novelist and a one of the most renowned game developers of all time should make for a winning combination right?
Some of the very best adventure games of the 90s all had the same formula. Clever puzzles and a sense of humour. Games like Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max and Monkey Island had come and gone by the time the first Discworld was released in 1995. Receiving positive reviews and a fair amount of success, a sequel was released in 1996.
“Discworld 2 is so good because it did everything right.”
By 1996, point and click adventures were old hat. The Playstation and N64 were in full swing. New and beautiful 3D games were on trend and the humble 2D adventures were beginning to feel dated. Discworld 2 was released with an improved graphics set up and fully voiced cast. The likes of Eric Idle, Nigel Planer and Rob Brydon all voiced some of the Discs most popular characters.
Fundamentally, Discworld 2 is so good because it did everything right. It had a star studded cast of genuinely funny British comedians and was written by one of the finest literary minds of any generation. Even today it really holds up well against modern adventure games. The story and puzzles are nothing unlike you’ll experience again. Who can forget trying to get a death certificate to prove you’re dead enough to visit Death?
Why haven’t we seen more from Discworld in video games?
The Discworld video game series has had just four main entries:
- The Colour of Magic 1986 (Commodore 64 / ZX Spectrum)
- Discworld 1995 (MS DOS / Playstation)
- Discworld II: Missing Presumed? 1996 (MS DOS / Playstation / Saturn)
- Discworld Noir 1999 (Windows / Playstation)
Whilst receiving positive reviews from many publishers, the games all have a distinctly British feel to them. The voice actors, themes and jokes are all deeply rooted in British culture. Many found them to be an acquired taste in an already niche video game genre. Whilst the games and their content are no way exclusive to the British, it can feel like you’re on the outside looking in.
The series is very much like marmite – you either love it or hate it. The humour has that darkness that is so appreciated within the United Kingdom but does not translate to a worldwide audience. Characters and place names are often puns or are a difficult to translate play on words.
“The series is very much like marmite – you either love it or hate it.”
Perhaps the most solid answer is that there hasn’t been a new Discworld related piece of media since Terry Pratchett died in 2015. A moment of mourning for all fans of the beloved series. Whilst there isn’t a new game to look forward to, the classic games are now abandonware and can be found online for free. If you want to experience a truly unique adventure, do yourself a favour and pick up a Discworld game.
For other great adventure games, take a look at our article on 5 of the best LucasArts games.