Sometimes we have too much free time on our hands, other times we like to promote the illusion to ourselves that we’re having fun while in reality, we are stuck drearily working away, clicking at our machines. For this, the browser-based game was developed. If you are one of the neo-proto-evolved masters of the gaming realm or a complete neophyte into the area of gaming (The Two extreme ends of the spectrum), then you may be unfamiliar with the browser based game, for the rest of you, what I say next will be a review, and you can skip ahead to the next paragraph. Browser based games are Games that run inside your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Etc.) These games usually don’t require a specific operating system and are usually free to play with the option to by in game currency of some sort in order to boost your character without spending the time it would take otherwise. You may have even encountered or even played one of these games without realizing it. Many of these games are extremely popular, and thanks to Social Media websites you can now play many of these with your friends without ever leaving the comfort of your Facebook account. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about It’s games like Farmville, Mafia Wars, and even Words with Friends.
However, it’s not any thing directly Facebook related that I’m talking about right now. While you can link your account with your profile, it’s not really necessary to progress in the game. Which, in retrospect, now looks like a good time to mention. The game is called Echo Bazaar. I first came across this curiosity that borders on a masterpiece of the Browser-Based gaming circle and was amazed. Unlike the bright cheery visual games like Farmville, the game is a darker, text based, non-linear progression, where your imagination sets the stage you are on with the help of the game’s story system. where you increase countless properties by clicking on different options and there seems to be no apparent endgame.
While this game is still in beta there’s no good reason not to look at it. The basic game play is rather simple, you have 10 actions starting out and they replace themselves at a rate of one every 10 minutes. Each action creates new opportunities, either by increasing one of your 4 base abilities (Dangerous, Persuasive, Watchful and Shadowy). Or by giving your character status modifiers. Currently you can increase your base abilities up to around 130 each and as far as Status modifiers I am unaware of most of their limits. Also, your actions can sometimes decrease these abilities and character modifiers. Myself, I’ve been playing this game for about 6 days now, and my abilities average at around 27 each, and I have more modifiers than I care to count. The thing that keeps me coming back to this game is the mystery of the word that it’s set it.
What can only be described as a post apocalyptic, neo-victorian, under society with its own rules and norms, The game takes place in a Fallen London which will be your on heading pretty much through the game. So much so that I thought it was the game’s title for a little while. As you progress, your character has the freedom to do good or evil (both relative to the situation), consort with devils, duchesses, cats, street urchins, etc. And the thing, that I love most about this game, is that it allows me to decide how my story progresses. I’m not stuck on one path like most browser and text based games force upon their players. It reminds me a bit of the game The Nine Princes of Amber for the Commodore 64.
What strikes me as novel is the money system of the game. The game’s name is in fact based upon its area of commerce: The Bazaar. The Bazaar only trades in Echoes. 100 pence (which means cents to you Americans) equals one Echo. The money system is unique to me for a free to play browser game in the fact that you can’t buy more in game money with real money. I think this is wonderful and it keeps the game from getting terribly unbalanced.
As the game is evolving behind my screen, my character too is evolving into what I can only hope is my own perfect persona. This game is a free word where anything might happen. And it touches my inner story teller. I found this game thanks to the lovely “Flog”, done by the lovelier Felicia Day and my gratitude goes out to her. And, to those of you who are exceptional at math and know that (7+9+9)/3 is approximately 8.3, I say to you: This is a text based game. Graphics aren’t necessary, but they have them and I think they’re pretty for what they are. I didn’t factor them in on purpose.
This game stands above every other browser based game. Setting a new standard in a world flooded with Farmville.
Image is © Copyright Failbetter Games 2010-2011 and Used with permission.
You can find Echo Bazaar by clicking here