ďCompanions of XanthĒ is, as you might have guessed if youíre familiar with Piers Anthony, based on the Xanth novels by Anthony. The game plays as a computer game within a computer game. You start out as Dug, a guy in the real world who finds the Xanth computer game in the mail and decides to play it, having been dumped by his girlfriend and the weather outside being too rainy to leave the house.
From there, you must choose a companion for your journey through Xanth, all characters which fans of the series will recognize as regulars.
It would have been nicer if the programmers had allowed more of a choice, but you are ultimately forced to pick a certain companion or else you immediately die.
The game proceeds from there as you, Dug, journey throughout Xanth as part of a wager between two demons for the future of Xanth. As expected from a Xanth title, puns play heavily into not only the environment around you, but also into the puzzles and solutions. Indeed almost, if not all, the puzzles have solutions that revolve around some sort of pun being formed by combining objects found throughout the world. While being familiar with the novels will help someone complete the game, itís hardly a requirement. The only real advantage from reading the books
will just be the familiarity with the punny environment, so it will be easier to catch on to some of the puzzle solutions.
That being said, at no point does any puzzle get to be exceedingly difficult. Often youíll be restricted to only a small number of areas when trying to get to the next area, so itís never a case of having to track back to find something youíve forgotten back at the start of the game, which can be nice for people who donít check everything on a screen their first time around.
All in all, the game is fairly entertaining and enjoyable, especially for fans of the novels. There are many familiar characters and places from the series in the game, and tons of allusions sprinkled throughout. Even for those not familiar with the book, the game should deliver a laugh or two, and a couple groans at some of the puns. Fans of Monkey Island/DOTT will enjoy the tongue-in-cheek humor throughout the game, just donít expect a challenge. The entire game could probably be beaten in one sitting, even if you havenít played it before.