Olivia's Orphanorium

by Sam Kabo Ashwell profile

Casual Simulation

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Number of Reviews: 5
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Fascinating... maybe for all the wrong reasons?, July 17, 2017
by Cory Roush (Ohio)

I'm a huge fan of casual simulations and resource management games, so when I stumbled upon this game, I was definitely intrigued. Fortunately, the game lived up to the expectations I had for it, which were appropriately low given the limits of the medium and my lack of experience with similar IF games.

This is not a difficult game... in fact, it's one of those simulations where it quickly becomes very obvious how to win. But instead of just amassing huge amounts of wealth, the path to victory is paved with emotional twists and turns. Another reviewer commented on how much affection you can discover for an "orphan" that is nothing more than a name, gender, and age, and I entirely agree. I wanted to see it through to the end not so that I could gain over 10,000 coins or some arbitrary end-goal, but because Ethel came to me as a dirty, sullen toddler and at the age of 16, was beautiful, healthy, and charming enough to stand in as a model for an artists' portrait. She'd later go on to work as an apprentice to a local entrepreneur, and I'm quite certain that if I checked back in with her in twenty-five years, she'd have a family of her own and a legacy to leave them.

The game is presented as a "beat an orphan" simulation and I think it's selling itself short. Yes, it's all sarcastically written to point out how horrifying orphanages have been throughout history (and, to an extent, still can be) but it's got an inner layer of charm that I wasn't expecting to find.

If there are any downsides to the game overall, it's that the difficulty is either completely impossible (but not on my most recent playthrough) or much too easy. I'd also love to see a version of the game that incorporates some visual cues to let you know you're doing, so long as they don't shatter the boundary between immersive simulation and game; color changes to the text to show negative/positive outcomes of your actions, for instance.

P.S. The "Play Online" version of the game appears to be v1, and unfortunately I did not have the time to go back and play v3 to see if the game was improved in any of the ways mentioned. If you have access to an interpreter, I imagine that's the version of the game the author intends for you to play.

Note: this review is based on older version of the game.
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