Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2015 Review: Onaar

Posted by Reiko on November 22, 2015

This is a review of a game from the 2015 Interactive Fiction Competition. Scoring criteria can be found here.

Onaar
Author: Robert DeFord
Format: Alan

The PC is an apprentice alchemist who ends up having to defeat a rogue wizard threatening the nearby town. It plays RPG-style, not with battles, but with gathering items and with cleverness in using potions to boost stats in order to pass various barriers and solve puzzles. I have no idea how difficult it is to program in Alan vs Inform or Twine or something, but this piece is cleverly done, with a lot of different timers behind the scenes to keep track of the various stats and items, since ingredients and many food items respawn after a certain number of turns have passed.

It’s not really a very difficult game; the difficulty mostly lies in optimizing the use of potions, especially early on when only weak ones can be made. By the end, though, the power curve spikes way up and it’s very easy to become insanely overpowered for the final confrontation. Again, oddly enough, there’s no real fighting; the damage is done subtly, with another potion, and the goal is simply to defend long enough.

The game is really too long for the comp, but it’s so well-done that my score doesn’t depend on the final third of the game. Plus there are side quests! Some are trivial to complete during the course of the main plot, but others require some digging.

This is absolutely my favorite game of the comp so far, a real gem. I’m planning on replaying it after to see if I can optimize the solution path and see how low I can get the turn count for a win.

Time: 2 hours+
Scoring: base 7, +1 for deep alchemy system, +1 for side quests
Score: 9

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