External Links

Walkthrough and maps
by David Welbourn

Have you played this game?

You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.

Playlists and Wishlists

RSS Feeds

New member reviews
Updates to external links
All updates to this page

The Familiar

by groggydog profile


Web Site

(based on 13 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

You are a witch's crow familiar, headstrong as anything but still young and untested.

What starts as a normal day soon takes a harrowing turn when your pacific caretaker, Valmai, is struck down by a terrible hex of mysterious origin. Now it's up to you, little bird, to cure your caretaker and discover the hex's source.

Are you up for the task?

(This is a parser game designed for beginners, and features a limited vocabulary.)

Game Details


Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2023

Winner, Outstanding Adventuron Game of 2023 - The 2023 IFDB Awards


- View the most common tags (What's a tag?)

(Log in to add your own tags)
Tags you added are shown below with checkmarks. To remove one of your tags, simply un-check it.

Enter new tags here (use commas to separate tags):

Member Reviews

5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 6
Write a review

Most Helpful Member Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Flu? Walnut-and-puffball soup!, April 27, 2023
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

(This review is based on the Spring Thing 2023 comp version.)

Such a warm and homely starting situation! Your witch is feeling a bit under the weather. How better to help her than to brew a cauldron of heartening medicinal soup?

Soon, though, it becomes apparent that something darker than a simple cold is amiss. Your mistress has been hexed, and sheís going to need something a bit more potent than hot soup.

Fran the crow is a lovely protagonist. Even though her ability to express herself verbally is limited to CAW, her kind-heartedness shines through in all her actions, and in her thoughts as they are relegated to the player through the authorís empathic penmanship.

As enthusiastic and full of life Fran is, even in these dire times, so is the authorís writing. Eager to share the wonders of this world, be they light or dark. From the cosy cabin to the oppressive vine-tangled forest, from the stately Opera House to the cute girl in the window, the joy of inviting the reader into this world sparkles on the screen.

You have been flying through the western forest as dawn begins to extend its frilly tendrils across the sky, and warm late-summer winds filter through your feathers. Streaks of green and yellow paint the landscape with fresh vibrancy.

Sometimes itís a bit too enthousiastic, to the point of near-selfcombustion:

ďThe mammoth governmental building looms ahead, its single golden clocktower eye and teeth-like arches looking more bestial than ever.Ē

A simple but delicately drawn map with just enough twists and turns in the path to feel organic guides you through the forest to the city of Gennemont, where the nub of the adventure lies.

One particular puzzle-and-narrative sequence here is so heartwarming Iíd have gladly played the game for the joy of it alone. ((Spoiler - click to show)The girl in the window's love-letter.)
Being aimed at beginners, the puzzles are quite simple. Most hinge on winning the trust of a human. The wing-and-beak gesturing CAW-ing conversations this entails are rich, the characters are people in their own right, and it gave a a real sense of connection to bond with them on a deeper level than just carrying out their associated fetch-quest.

During these conversations, and through the limited memories and understanding Fran has of the goings-on in the wider world, we learn of the broader circumstances in which the story plays. A war is going on between the powerful factions of the setting, and it reaches down to influence even the lives of Fran and the other characters.

The entire tale is enlightened but not overshadowed by moody grey-blue pixel graphics, emphasising the atmosphere of the text-descriptions.

At the end, the author hearkens back to an early meeting in an almost fairy-tale fashion, bringing the story around to a satisfying close.

I came across a few bugs and sent reports of them to the author. Iím confident those will be squashed in a following update. Nothing that should hinder the enjoyment, perhaps even providing an extra laugh or two.

A very warm and inviting game.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A delightful crow's adventure, May 29, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: springthing

The Familiar follows Fran, a familiar in the form of a crow, as she embarks on a quest to save her witch mistress who has succumb to an illness. Through a series of puzzles and exploration, Fran uncovers a secret plot and fights for her mistress's life.

I am a sucker for a good simple puzzle and a cute story, and this is no wonder this game made it to my top list of the SpringThing this year (well, it was already a favourite of mine while I was testing it). From its clean and simple aesthetic, the gorgeous pixel art for each "room", to its delightful characters, The Familiar is such a well rounded game.

Obviously, playing as a crow, you are limited in your abilities to help your bedridden mistress (it is a magical wonder you can get her a blanket). Still, the puzzles are constructed in a way that would be doable for a crow to solve (and you a smart little one). Cawing your way into town to get attention, pecking people to move them out of the way, or picking up and dropping objects in the right place, you manage to acquire all needed ingredients to save the witch.

And you are not alone in the process. Meeting first Hazel, a mouse familiar whose master perished not long before the game, who will tend to your mistress while you fly to fetch the ingredients (turns out, it's not the flu but a curse, whomps...). Then a trio of NPCs in town: Miroger, who's bother has died, Cecile, who needs help writing and sending a letter to her lover, and Frederik, who knows a good deal when he sees one. Each helps you getting one ingredient in exchange for a small favour. Finally, the evil wizzard's owl coming at the 11th hour to stop Fran.

But how does it end then? With a happy ending, for course! This is still a feel good story at the end of the day, one that makes you feel satisfied when the ending screen comes around. The day is saved, the mistress is healed, and you made some friends along the way.

What I really appreciated from it was how inclusive the game was for beginners (or terrible parser player like me), as you are limited to 5 verbs (TAKE, DROP, LOOK, PECK, CAW), there is an available tutorial to teach you the controls, and a thorough walkthrough is included in case one is stuck.

I wanted to give a special shoutout to the artwork, considering how long it took to make 30+ pixel art headers, many of those heavily detailed. Those truly gorgeous small pieces of art enhance the atmosphere of the setting, from the cozy home, to the luscious forest, and the different and vibrant parts of the industrialised city. If it all felt like a pixelized version of a Ghibli movie, that was on purpose (the author confirmed the reference).

Anyway, I'm going back to fly after that darn letter...

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Delightful fantasy-themed illustrated parser game, May 16, 2023
by Vivienne Dunstan (Dundee, Scotland)

This was a delightful parser game, where you, a witchís crow familiar, have to save your mistress. Thereís a light touch to the writing, and itís friendly to beginner parser players. The reduced parser helps, though I struggled with it in a few places. The fantasy worldbuilding is strong, and a series of fetch quests takes you through the story, plus extremely well written and nicely implemented conversations with various characters. Things got really frightening at times. In a good way. Iím still feeling relieved that I got a good ending and not a bad one as things played out! I was also grateful to the author for including a walkthrough (two versions). Oh and the artwork throughout is gorgeous.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

See All 6 Member Reviews

The Familiar on IFDB

Recommended Lists

The Familiar appears in the following Recommended Lists:

games for beginners by Spingly
work in progress collection games with built in hints and/or easier puzzles content in this list should be more or less suitable for most ages

Favourite games published in 2023 by manonamora
Like the title indicates, below are games published in 2023 which I really enjoyed playing. There is no real order in this list. And I probably forgot some knowing me... (will update this at some point because I missed some big titles)

New walkthroughs for May 2024 by David Welbourn
On Friday, May 31, 2024, I published new walkthroughs for the games and stories listed below! Some of these were paid for by my wonderful patrons at Patreon. Please consider supporting me to make even more new walkthroughs for works of...


The following polls include votes for The Familiar:

Outstanding Short Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best short game of 2023, where the definition of 'short' is left up to the...

Games for Beginners by WriterBob
I'm looking for games that are suited for adults who are new to IF. My purpose is to share these games with friends and let them get experience IF without being frustrated by mazes or guess-the-verb issues. Please avoid children's games....

Birds in IF by Wendymoon
What games can you think of with birds in them? What's the bird? Is it important to the game?

See all polls with votes for this game

This is version 7 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 31 May 2024 at 4:18pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page