29 June, 2015

Game Chef Review 22: Alchemical by Jacob Hockins

Alchemical

Ingredients: 4 [Dragonfly (2), Dream (2)]
The Dragonfly is a character token,and the Dream is linked to the dream merchant location. Both of these could be fairly easily substituted out for something else, so even though they are present they aren't integral to the design as it currently stands.

Theme: 4
I can't really determine who the audience is for this game. It seems to be a game for young kids, or even adults who are into anime. If it went one way (for kids), I could see lots of bubble-gum and sweet ingredients, if it went the other way (adult anime), I'd imagine far more subversive ingredients and dark humour packing the flavour text on each card. Either of these options is a niche market within the existing gamer space, so it's not really catering to "a different audience". I don;t know the kind of work commonly done by the designer, so I can't award extra marks for seeing him work outside his comfort zone.

Would I Play This?: 8
In it's current state, no. If it were finished, absolutely. It looks like a simple enough game, and it seems to have fed off a few of the same inspirations that I used for Dragonfly Brewing Company. It;s always interesting to see someone else's take on these ideas.

Completeness: 3
It just looks like the author ran out of time. This is a common problem in Game Chef, it's a pretty intense period to try and get a full game happening. This game seems pretty ambitious, and reminds me a bit of my own entry in the contest, it looks like it could be an awesome game to play with young kids, but in it's current state there is just too much missing. Cards are referred to, but not provided, sample ingredients and recipes are present, but there need to be more to get a good feel for how the game might work. There are other gaps in the core mechanisms such as determining whether characters trade cards if they need an ingredient from a shop they can't enter. It honestly looks like a great start, but then it falls flat.

Innovation: 3
This game has numerous components that I've seen in many other places, They've been added together in ways that aren't particularly fresh or new either (but given that the concept is similar to my own, maybe they are fresh and new to the wider population, and they've just been over-analysed in my head). I'd love to see some more of the cards involved in the game, maybe these would have pushed the envelope a but further.

Output Quality: 5 [Language (2), Layout (1), Imagery (2)]
The language that is present in the game seems fairly coherent, there's just not really enough of it (sure there's more in this incomplete entry than in a lot of the full entries, but this one alludes to a lot of details that aren't fully fleshed out). Generally the layout isn't bad, but the sample ingredients and recipes document is all over the shop. The imagery gets points because I'm intrigued by the map gien for the board, it looks like there's some great potential there.

Overall: 44% Needs Work [12+8+8+6+3+5]
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