I posted earlier about Extra Credits. On of their earlier episodes talked about the web-based game Echo Bazaar. As my Facebook friends are likely aware, I started playing it a little while ago, and I love it.
It’s a fairly simple to learn game: your character starts in Newgate Prison of Fallen London, and your first task is to break out. You have a certain number of actions available at any given moment (represented by the candle at the top left hand of the screen), and these are used to progress in your storylets. You also have a total number of actions per day.
One of favourite thing about the game is the atmosphere created. A review I read described it as “Lovecraft meets Edward Gorey for tea on Baker Street”, which quite accurate. Since I love all three of those, it’s not surprising that I love the feel of the games and the tone of the storylets.
I also love the way the stats you focus on change the stories available to you, and the way the cards you play and succeed at open different options in the future. It does feel a lot like the choice of path you take has an effect on the game experience.
Unfortunately, I find the action system rather restrictive, and I’m not certain I understand the motivation for it. Essentially, at any given moment you have a maximum of ten (free) or twenty (paid) actions you can take. This is playing a card, clicking a storylet, or requesting help from a friend. You can move around the world or sell and buy things at the Bazaar without using an action, but pretty much everything else requires them. The actions refresh at about one per every seven minutes, and you have a total of 40 (free) or 80 (paid) per day, with an extra 10 or 20 if you post a story clip to Facebook or Twitter.
I understand the maximum per day; it gives them the opportunity to sell more. It’s waiting for the actions of the moment to refresh that I don’t understand, and find quite frustrating. In the end, it tends to mean that I don’t have the opportunity to use my daily actions when I have paid for the extra, making not upping them more appealing when I’m not working on any particular goal.
But I still love the game, and I like supporting the things I love, so for now I’m keeping my extras, even if I only get through them on occasion. Still, the free to play experience is just as good, though the progression is obviously a little slower, and it’s certainly worth checking it out.