30 June, 2015

Game Chef Review 24: Dwolma by David King


Ingredients: 7 [Abandoned (4), Dream (3)]
The players in this game each take turns being the "Abandoned", a person caught between reality and dream. The "Abandoned" is blindfolded to reinforce the notion of being seperate fro the world as they journey through a landscape described through collaboration of the other two players (yes, this game is specifically designed to be played by 3).

Theme: 6
While this game fits into a distinct and well-worn niche in the gaming spectrum, it makes distinct reference to the theme and tries to apply a specific spin to it. I would admire the game for that, if it were the only reference to a different audience, but the game is mysterious and shrouded (both metaphorically and physically)...arguably a bit pretentious, but that feels right for mood of this game.

Would I Play This?: 6
I'm not 100% sure about the Bēodan, phase of the game. Especially regarding the way the tokens are drawn from the central pool, then bid. I'd want to tweak it, or serious run through a couple of simulations before I played it... but the fact that I'm thinking about the logistics of this is a good sign toward my desire to play the game.

Completeness: 7
It is a whole game, complete with the phases necessary to guide an abandoned through their narrative journey through the Dwolma (meaning chaos, chasm, darkness, in Anglo Saxon). I would imagine that the game would be played out three times, once with each of the participants taking on the role of the 'Abandoned'. The rules include the cards referred to at the end of the game, but there seem to be a few moments where the fruitful void has been taken advantage of. Some say that gaps in the rules allow for players to tailor the experience and allow for innovation through the play rather than through the mechanism of the rules. Personally, I often find that to simply be an excuse for rationalising the cutting of corners trough doublespeak. This game skirts that in a few places.

Innovation: 7
I like the idea of the blindfold. It's a rare mechanism that I've seen in one or two games previously, but it's still fresh. The bidding mechanism is also reminiscent of a few games I've seen, so too the ritualised act structure. I'm giving partial bonus points for both the innovative presentation of the way the game plays out, and the blindfold medium. Both are clever.

Output Quality: 7 (Language 3, Layout 2, Imagery 1, +1 Bonus for Overall Presentation)
The language used in the game is more than simply functional, it sets the tone of mystery and dark beauty. The layout is simple but elegant, it does more than just provide headings, it also gives us a text box for the Bēodan game within a game. Like Tea Ceremony reviewed earlier, a point has been given for imagery despite the lack of actual pictures... this was purely done do to the evocative writing.

Overall: 67% Credit [21+12+6+14+7+7]
There is something surreal and mysterious about this game. A solid entry that addresses the criteria of the contest in an interesting way. I'd like to see a bit more competition between the ushers who guide the 'Abandoned', or even a way for the 'Abandoned' to completely fail rather than simply getting more chances to succeed until they finally get through...which basically destroys the tension of the whole thing.
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