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Innkeeper, March 14, 2022
General Recommendation: I recommend this game, itís a short, fun, and immersive take on running an inn in a fantasy world, with a lot of variety and different potential plotlines.
Preview: Can you make the family inn profitable enough to earn your medical degree?
This is a fun and short game that takes a fresh and entertaining look at running a tavern in a fantasy city, with all the problems that entails. Itís an engaging read, with a wide variety of different pathes that can be taken.
The characters in this story are handled well. Thereís enough variety among the inn staff members that there can be a variety of plotlines, but thereís not so many characters that the reader loses track of any of them. Each character gets a chance to be in the spotlight at some point, and can develop in different directions depending on your policies surrounding the running of the inn.
This isnít just a puzzle-like game about running an inn. There is focus on the narratorís pursuit of a medical degree, his relationship with Eliza, and his future prospects beyond his role as an innkeeper. These elements add character and depth to the story, making the consequences of whether or not you succeed at running the in more meaningful. You have to decide what your priorities are and whatís important to you. This game has a good balance of choices that are optimization-based and narrative-based.
Also of note is the detail and care thatís obviously gone into the worldbuilding here. Some of this is because EndMaster has two other stories set in this world, but the way itís weaved into the narrative is very well done. As the focus of the game is on the running of the inn, the worldbuilding never overwhelms the plot or supercedes the focus on the inn. However, the details that exist add a lot of depth to the setting. Itís clear that this is a a big world that doesnít exist simply to give the story a location, thereís a lot going on beyond the scope of the story.
This sense of immersiveness helps keep the narratorís struggles in perspective. Unlike many storygames, the narrator is not a powerful or influential figure; heís a relatively normal guy trying to survive in his niche in the world. This balance between the narratorís agency and restrictions, combined with the depth of the world, gives the game a very realistic and grounded feel. Thereís all this fantasy stuff going on, all of which is interesting, but youíre here to run an inn, and that sense of reality is transfered to the player.
-The introductory sequence does a good job establishing the characters of Dave and Tom, and the narratorís father. It also does a good job showing where the narrator is at this point in his life, providing a snapshot of his childhood. The scene serves as a good reference point for the later chapters in his adulthood, and really emphasizes the secure nature of the narratorís life up until this point.
-The background info in the informational links is interesting, but it barely has any effect on the story. It might be neater if the information were delivered on a more as-needed basis. As it is, the worldbuilding details (like the adventurerís uncovering a dwaarven tomb) add a lot of atmosphere to the game. Conveying the bacakground information in a similar way would prevent it from seeming like an info dump, and further contribute to the gameís atmosphere. The same is true of the staff updates interspersed throughout the story.
-Pity that the Flying Griffon is an antagonist.
-I like the way the different staff members are used to present decisions. Having different characters supply different options for the player is a great way to both further characterization, and provide the player with a more balanced view of the options.
-Elizaís interest in the narrator is shown well with her comment about potential workplace relationships.
-I find it amusing that a retaurant owner has been working with demons. Not only does it drive the plot forward, itís a good worldbuilding detail. The characters react to this information the way they might react to some kind of mafia ties reveal, the way demons and magic are treated in this game shows the extent to which magic is a relatively common tool in this setting.
-Cindy never feels quite as fleshed out as the other characters. This is understandable since she doesnít get as much screen time and isnít as important, but since choosing whether or not to stay with her is the basis of the final decision, it would be nice to get to speak to her a bit more before making a call.
-I like that you canít both keep the inn and end up with Eliza. Real life rarely has an optimal solution to it, there are always tradeoffs. I also like that the gameís optimal ending is somewhat mundane when compared to many of the endings in EndMasterís other games. Itís a good contrast.
-Troll adrenaline is another excellent worldbuilding detail.
-I like the way the narratorís workplace relationship with Eliza is handled. Workplace relationships really do cause problems in real life (far more than they do in fiction) and itís nice to see the consequences of attachments like this shown.
-Took me half the game to realize it was ďFlameflowerĒ and not ďFlamethrowerĒ.
-David and Tomís inclusion in the story is used well, the reader is already familiar with them, and aware that they put the narrator at risk. The fact that David and Tom are uneasy with the morality of this action is a good indicator of just how messed up it is.
-I like that the path where you hire the Crimson Talons continues just beyond the scope of the innís prospects and shows how the narratorís dealings follow him into his later life.
-Incitahol appearing across multiple branches is a good bit of continuity.
-I like that the failure endings still give a quick summary of how your life went.
-Even for choices that deviate from the main path, there are a number of smaller adventures the player can engage in, such as the daquala path, and the incitahol path. Both are unusual pathes that intersect with the running of the inn and add detail to the world.
-The pacing of this story is quite good. It correctly identifies the important elements and focuses on them, not wasting time with irrelevent details.
A couple issues.
Mastery of Language
There are a couple sentence structure issues, the language can be a bit choppy at times.
Though this story does have a main branch, you can deviate from it pretty significantly and still have a fleshed out and full read. Some of the secondary branches are short mini adventures, while others go into more detail. Thereís a great amount of variety.
Player Options/fair choice
Excellent. The player often gets three or more options when making decisions, and the outcome of each option is very well foreshadowed, with potential consequences being discussed by the various inn members before a decision is made.
My first time playing this game, the first ending I reached was probably the second best one, where you save the inn and marry Cindy instead of getting back together with Eliza.
CONCLUSION: The best way to describe this game is fun. Itís a well-imagined concept that sticks to its strengths, offering a lot of variety in gameplay without exceeding its scope.