I love short games, and I love cheap games. I love short, cheap games that tell touching stories with impossibly deep characters. Conversely, I don't love short, cheap games that are unfortunately lacking in quality—games like the obnoxiously titled Hamlet (or the last game without MMORPG features, shaders and product placement). Although it does have an attractive, cute art style, Hamlet is rife with non-intuitive, often frustrating puzzles and a plot that is ridiculous in a way that far surpasses the tasteful.
Hamlet starts out with the plot of Shakespeare's famous play, but within a couple panels of the first cutscene, it's transformed into a grotesque attempt at a modernly witty version of a classic. The main character, Hamlet, is quickly replaced by a time-traveling scientist from the future who, after crashing into Hamlet and incapacitating him, is required to rescue Ophelia from Cladius in Hamlet's place. This scientist is forced to follow a line of plot that is loosely based on Hamlet to return Ophelia to her proper place at Hamlet's side. While an intriguing idea for a storyline, the delivery of the oddly sci-fi events is done in such a way that the game goes from quirky to downright deplorably ludicrous.
The gameplay of Hamlet is not a standard point and click adventure. The player is missing the typical inventory system and dialogue of such a game. Hamlet is instead played in silence, with the main character only communicating in brief, uninteresting thought bubbles. The short puzzles that the player is presented with are often incredibly nonlinear, to the point where I often found myself simply clicking all around the screen to see if I could simply stumble upon the answer to some of the more farfetched puzzles. The illogical solutions to the puzzles are made more frustrating by an interface that in no way highlights which objects on the screen allow for interaction.
Hamlet's frustration-inspiring, nonsensical puzzles do very little favors for its equally nonsensical plot, and not even its somewhat attractive atmosphere can pull this game back from its failings. At only an hour or two of teeth-gritting, boredom-inspiring gameplay, this tiny indie game isn't worth a misplaced dose of hopeful curiosity or the irritation that comes with its small price tag—even if it's picked up in the middle of a Steam sale. I suppose, in this case, the old adage holds true: you get what you pay for.