10 July, 2015

Game Chef Review 48: Ephemeral by Ephraim Gregor

Ephemeral

Ingredients: 6 [Stillness (4), Dragonfly (2)]
Stillness plays a fairly dominant role in this game, as characters live short lives and then remain still after they have "died". This is a really strong use of the ingredient. The dragonfly ingredient is a bit more vague because the game expands to insects in general.

Theme: 4
This game sits well and truly within the "Freeform/Jeepform" niche (as I understand it), so there's nothing particularly different about that audience. I'm giving it high points within that idea, because it does cause the players to switch from active participants in the game to more passive audience roles as one by one the insect characters die over the course of an hour.

Would I Play This?: 2
This one draws on a number of concepts in the jeepform space that I've never had much positive experience with, unless it were run by a very specific type of GM (the type of GM who has half of the rules in their head, and just hasn't bothered to write them down. It's very much the kind of game that feels like it needs more, whether that comes from the right social circumstances, the right theatrical training (or instincts), and the right motivations from all the participants. I very rarely see this kind of game go right, and in most cases I just don't find this style of game enjoyable.

Completeness: 4
There is generally enough here to play a game. There's a set up, there is character creation, there are times of death, things to do once death has occurred, and instructions for debriefing. But the whole middle section is so vague and nebulous that it just doesn't feel focused enough to be doing much of anything beyond a theatre class exercise. A few intuitive leaps get it there, but I'd like a bit more.

Innovation: 3
I can't see much new in this, and the components that have been gathered together, are constructed in a fairly pedestrian pattern that I've seen time and again. The time of death is an interesting mechanism that might be implemented in a different way, perhaps involving more deliberate character choice... As I've seen in a few other games across this contest.

Output Quality: 4 [Language (2), Layout (1), Imagery (1)]
The language in this is a bit disjointed in parts, I'm not sure if this is due to the designer not having English as their first language, or maybe rushing through the design process. It's generally OK, but a few issues in the text. The layout is plain and doesn't show much care in it. Imagery is getting a single point for the layout of the cards.

Overall: 43% Needs Work [18+8+2+8+3+4]
This is just another game that falls straight into the "freeform/jeepform with a minor gimmick" niche. I know there a folks who like this sort of stuff, but it's only half a design in my mind, and it takes a good solid half from the GM or person running the game before it becomes a fully functional piece of  gaming entertainment.


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