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About the Story
Go to Onaar and become an Alchemist. Learn to make potions that allow you to survive and thrive in a dynamic, open-ended game world. Will you elevate your skills and vanquish the rogue wizard who threatens that world, or will you die trying? Download includes interpreters for Windows and Mac.
16th Place - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)
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Number of Reviews: 2
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I must admit I have a soft spot for RPGs with grind and an alchemy system, so that hits the spot. I got about 30% of the way before the 2 hour mark, which didn't even start the main quest but I got to learn how to make potions. One neat thing is that objects that you can gather in the various locations reappear after some number of turns (I think the food reappears after you ate it, but the other ones after a number of turns - you can, and will, collect a large number of ingredients). This probably also makes the game easier to program: you only need one large turnip, and when the player doesn't have it anymore you put it back, etc.
I liked the system that was in place to make things faster - since it's a grindy RPG, you will have to type the same stuff a lot, and so each ingredient has a code made of its initials. So you type 'p' to make a potion, then a number, then initials, and you created a potion; it's a pretty neat alternative to "make X potion with Y and Z" or "make X potion", and very welcome here knowing that you will have to type the same thing lots of time. (An abbreviation for "takeall" would have been nice too, though.) There also seems to be quite a number of potions you can make, judging by the list of ingredients and the fact that they each have 2 effects.
The world in the game is pretty standard fantasy, with inns and quests and people who speak British English; but the world sometimes makes references to the modern-day world (GMOs, Nantes carrots, Yukon potatoes...), which is probably some eccentricity from the author (I mean, I don't expect a twist like "it's actually set in the modern world!"). The story is pretty generic, too, of the "gain levels as an alchemist and be the new adventurer that saves a small town from evil marauders" kind; but I haven't gone too far in the two hours, so I don't really know how to plot unfolds.
The writing is okay, but the way the game reacted to my female protagonist bothered me a bit: basically, all men say "certainly, I love talking to fine young ladies like you", and one woman literally says "I love to talk to attractive young ladies like you", which seems really weird and unrealistic; and of course, the first comment you get when you buy an alchemy robe is "you look so good in it". Another thing that felt weird is that the game is very transparent from a code and statistics perspective: "takeall" literally starts Linux-style messages like "Beginning automated take... Searching for objects to take... Found: carrot", which feels really mechanical/computerized; I'm not saying the Inform way is necessarily better, but I'd have preferred it if the game attempted to weave that into a sentence; same with the description of objects, which says "(weight: 1; value: 6)", and your alchemy teacher who says "look at you, you are level 19!" after scanning you with a rod.
Anyway, the whole game seems to be based around the purely mechanical fun of grinding, selling objects, being able to afford power-ups, to complete quests, and then start again; the thing is, I kinda like that kind of mechanics, and have spent hundreds of hours playing CRPGs doing exactly that. But the game is very transparently built around that, and the writing doesn't try too hard to challenge anything: you have characters that have the personalities of standard RPG NPCs (buying, selling, rumors), a familiar plot in a fantasy world, a female adventurer/PC that must be young and pretty, and an emphasis on stats that, although necessary for the form, feels a bit too blunt. RPG fans might enjoy it, and will push along for the few hours the game demands; it feels like a nicely done, very (too) familiar RPG.
Onaar is different than most games out there. It is an RPG with heavy amounts of grinding, but can still be completed relatively quickly.
You are a young person who crashes on an island with a community on it. You become an alchemist's apprentice. The game has a real economy with things you need to buy and sell, a variety of stats, a mild hunger daemon (with plenty of free food items regenerating all over), and many potions you make by gathering alchemical ingredients.
It was fun. It is not like other parser games; if you are looking for a traditional puzzler, you should go somewhere else. Traditional puzzles are here, but the RPG/alchemy system is the real star. You can make yourself incorporeal, stronger, a teleporter, etc.
Great for fans of classic RPGS.
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