Varkana

by Maryam Gousheh-Forgeot

Science Fiction
2007

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Number of Reviews: 8
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Good balance of intrigue and light-hearted adventure, May 8, 2012
by sunny and mild (South Africa)

This game starts by immediately throwing you into an intriguing world of fantasy/mildly sci-fi scenery, in which everything is somehow quaint yet technologically advanced at the same time. The story is set in a sort of “time outside of any time in history”, so “anachronistic” would not really be the word to use.

What I liked about Varkana:
The setting - lush futuristic eastern landscapes, imaginary technology, and beautiful people everywhere you go. Quite a lot of the scenery is examinable, which really adds to the atmosphere - without misleading you into thinking that any non-essential elements are essential for the game. (Spoiler - click to show)The PC, Faranaaz, also undergoes a clothing change, so if you’re interested in random girly details, be sure to “x me” and “x outfit” in the beginning and then later on just for fun.
The conversation system - I happen to enjoy lengthy conversations with NPCs, so this was rather appealling to me. If you simply cannot abide this method of information-getting, then this may not be the game for you.
The unfolding story. At the beginning of this game, you are presented with a stack of information, which can be a bit overwhelming when you are still trying to figure out what your first move is supposed to be. However, this overload recedes a bit, and you’re eased into a series of tasks which take you further into unwrapping the mystery.
Humour - the story is sprinkled with some light-hearted humour, if you know where to look.

What I did not like:
A list of made-up fantasy names which you have to keep referring to (Spoiler - click to show)- for example “ask houtan about ardavaan”, “ask ardavaan about amortaad” etc - , which can get a bit annoying because at times I had to either scroll up to try to find the names which I wanted to refer to, or leave the scene and go back to the scene where the character was, to re-learn the name, then return and continue the conversation.
(Spoiler - click to show)Sudden death! The whole point of this game - well, one of two points it seems - was apparently to retrieve a certain item. But as soon as there was finally a way to retrieve it, my PC was killed and the game ended. I’m not sure what the purpose of this was.
Sudden ending - as I write this, I have completed the game once, but I strongly suspect that this was a premature ending, because: 1. There seemed to be so many loose ends that still needed tying. 2. There seemed to be so much which was still due to happen. 3. There was a lot of information which I had spent the whole game trying to uncover, which was still very covered. 4. (very mild spoiler) (Spoiler - click to show)I had not scored all the points that could be scored.
Also, after I had a look at the in-game map, I began to suspect that there was something I should have done at the very beginning of the game, and my not having done it caused inevitable unwinnability later on - it’s only a suspicion though: I haven’t tested it yet.

That said, the parts of the game which are potentially annoying or a bit frustrating did not really deter me from the game as a whole - it’s a beautiful game to be immersed in, and a very good effort on the part of the author. I fully intend to replay it, and see if any different outcomes may be achieved.


Comments on this review

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Sam Kabo Ashwell, May 9, 2012 - Reply
Rather than being 'made-up fantasy names', most of the naming in Varkana is drawn from Persian and other languages of the Middle East; the author is originally from Iran.
sunny and mild, September 10, 2012 - Reply
I stand corrected on the fantasy names being "made-up" - however, I do not change my opinion on the very unseen-before nature of the names causing a bit of frustration due to having to go back and forth (unless you just write them all down on paper or something).

In any case, thank you for correcting me.
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