The Forgotten Tavern

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This is an odd experience. A sort of mash-up of IF, a dungeon grinder, a world-building strategy game, a roguelike game and one of those games you play on your phone where you have to make burgers or hotdogs to order. Sort of. I liked it. If that sounds interesting, then read on!

The basic premise of this choice game is that as a “……” (fill in gap with an in-game choice), you are near collapse in the wilderness when you are rescued by Max and Diana, 2 innkeepers. On waking in the morning, it is revealed that they could really do with some help to fill out the menu. A mysterious portal leads to a world populated by animated vegetables that would nicely fill the pot.

Given a hammer and an apron, it’s now your job to go through the portal each day and come back with that evening’s dinner.

Of course, none of this is taken too seriously by the game. You face Wilted Spinach and Surly Potatoes as your combat opponents. Some of the text is played for laughs. The Morris dancers made me giggle. As you get better equipment and new vegetables appear, you move through classifications from ‘Vegetable Wrangler’ through ‘Fighting Farmer’ and onwards.

As you progress in the game, new abilities, weapons and armor starts to become available. In addition, new buildings appear – like a Smithy, or a Tannery. You can visit these and personalize your equipment. It’s all very nicely implemented.

One of the problems with the combat element of the game is that it is too easy/simple. There is no real strategy there. Smash Attack seems overpowered. I am subduing the vegetables with only a single attack. Later in the game, when the carrots and turnips show up, it takes a couple of attacks, but I’m never really under any pressure. It’s also rather grindy. While the ‘monsters’ (read: vegetables) vary as you go through the game, they don’t vary enough. It’s like re-doing the goblin levels in Diablo over and over again.

It’s an interesting mechanic though, coupling this with the inn’s basic business of feeding the customers. Each day, when you finish hunting, there is a visitor to the Inn. Depending on whether you have hunted enough food or not, varies the outcome. It builds a stat of satisfied customers. In addition, at the start of each day, Max and Diana have a little bit more to say to you – but, to be honest, this really seems like a bit of an afterthought. This could have been interesting to find out a little more about these two or introduce a sub-plot – but it never really goes anywhere.

And then it…ends. I had 33 satisfied customers. There is a short end game, which pleasingly hearkens back to the first choice you made in the game. I’ve only played through once but am curious to play again to see if there are alternate endings. However, the grinding nature of the main part of the game dissuades me. I did enjoy this though. It was refreshingly a bit different. 7/10

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