08 July, 2015

Game Chef Review 43: Odonata by Alla Hoffman

Odonata

Ingredients: 8 [Dragonfly (4), Abandon (2), Dream (2)]
Despite using the "Dream/Dragonfly" combo, this game isn't about faeries, which is refreshing. the Dragonflies are powerful anime princess types with supernatural powers who confront menaces in the world known as "Fairy Wasps"...oops, no, I was wrong, there's the faerie connection. I guess it'sjust a  really common combination during this contest. Dreams are also something to which the girls aspire (and things that may be risked or abandoned in pursuit of becoming a Dragonfly. It's an interesting interplay of concepts.

Theme: 6
There really aren't a lot of English language games that do the "anime" thing well. There arethe games   clustered under the "Cel-style" umbrella, and a few others, but few that do it justice. I know lots of cosplayers and anime fans who would appreciate the link from their world into the world of RPGs. This game might not have scored as highly, if the designer didn't specifically state that they were new to the world of Anime.

Would I Play This?: 4
This isn't bad, and there are some interesting ideas in it that could certainly be harvested for other games. But as it stands, there are a few too many gaps and bits that feel off to me. One of the clinchers is the way points are bid (for supernatural Dragonfly effects) in comparison to dice rolled (for mundane effects). Maybe I'm just missing something here.

Completeness: 7 [5 + 1 bonus for character sheet +1 Bonus for accessibility]
Everything is here to run a game, including character sheets and GM notes, but there feels like some gaps in the overall structure. I'm not sure what's really missing, so maybe some general clean up will overcome that.

Innovation: 4
Again, lots of ideas from different places, all thrown together in a way that feels vaguely familiar. Since I've watched a lot of anime, I might be drawing memories from shows I watched rather than structures of games I've read. I'm not sure. I like that there are hard choices in this game, and those hard choices have mechanical impact on the story. The initiator feels a bit creepy, I'm not sure if this is intended... I almost want to say I'm getting a paedophilia vibe from this role in the game, but that might just be reading too much into it.

Output Quality: 7 [Language (3), Layout (2), Imagery (1), +1 bonus for overall presentation]
The language is fine, but a few more descriptions would have been useful. The layout is probably one of the better ones I've seen so far, but still nothing spectacular. The front image is nice, but I probably would have gone with something more "Anime" given the intended thematic content of the game. On the whole, it's a decent looking game.

Overall: 65% Credit [24+12+4+14+4+7]
This is a clever and thought provoking game, and probably deserves better than a scraping credit. I think it didn't really score much higher because something felt off about the attributes and power points. I like the ideas in it, and I can definitely see it appealing to a certain type of Anime fN who decides they want to move beyond passive entertainment.
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