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About the Story
Potions shattered on the floor, pages torn out of books, a demolished statue... These are a few of the magical messes you will have to clean up before Enchantress Igmenta arrives for your coming-of-age test tonight. Unfortunately, you've never been much good at magic, and it will take all of your determination to learn enough of it to set the Pentacle Chamber to rights--and pass that test!
Nominee - Arthur the cat, Best Individual NPC - 2018 XYZZY Awards
24th Place - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)
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Number of Reviews: 2
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In Charming you play as an apprentice witch who has destroyed several magical items and must repair them. This requires solving a series of puzzles, often with multiple parts. Unlike, say, Dynamite Powers vs. the Ray of Night!, though, the gameplay isn't linear. After you solve what amounts to the initial puzzle you can work on a few different tasks at once. Normally having multi-part puzzles simultaneously going on would be a lot to keep track of, but the game includes a very helpful TODO command which will tell you what tasks are available, what tasks you've completed, and what tasks remain.
The puzzles themselves require a lot of consulting the various magical books for information. You really have to pay attention, and there's a lot of extra information that you don't end up needing. But I found this to be a plus; it provides background for the world that you're in, making gameplay feel more immersive. It also makes the puzzles more interesting; you can't just go through the magical books and say "O.K., what information have I not used yet?" in order to solve the puzzles. Some of the information can also be used to perform actions that later show up in the "For Your Amusement" list, increasing the game's playability.
One thing I found particularly satisfying was (Spoiler - click to show)creating a crystal ball. Structurally, it wasn't much different from the other multi-step puzzles, but something deep in me just really appreciated the act of constructing a fabled magical item that I've seen in dozens of stories and games.
One thing a player should be aware of going into the game is that some of the magical book topics only trigger on the entire phrase, whereas some will trigger with the entire phrase or the right keyword. However, the game does includes a shortcut READ verb, so that you can, for example, READ [a topic] instead of always having to CONSULT [a particular book] ABOUT [a topic].
Overall, I think Charming lives up to its name. I found it to be a fun, light-hearted game with somewhat intricate puzzles, and I would recommend it to fans of such. It's particularly impressive that this is the author's first work of IF. I hope she continues making games!
I had an earlier review for this game that I deleted on accident.
Charming uses a spell system similar to the Enchanter series. In the long tradition of spell-based parser games, you must use a series of more and more complicated magical spells and techniques to recover from a series of magical mishaps that occurred before play began.
The one problem I had with this game was its gating of information. After a short but repetitive opening puzzle, you are given 4 books, some with ten or fifteen or more entries. It's absolutely overwhelming.
This could have been overcome by using the system in Curses (where you have books without indices and must look up names which lead to other names) or the even better version found in Zarf's room in Cragne Manor (where there is an index that only lists pages you've already discovered).
If this info dump could be ameliorated, this is actually a lovely game with some intricate puzzles and descriptive writing. Recommended for the patient and thorough.
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