Saturday, 8 July 2017


Plays: 1Px12.

The Game

Onirim is a solitaire card game with an unusual setting and unusual mechanisms. You are trapped in a nightmare, and you need to unlock eight doors to escape. You must do this before daybreak. Else you will be forever trapped inside the nightmare. This sounds a little disturbing.

The card deck has 76 cards. Most cards are in one of the four suits - blue, red, green and beige. 10 of the cards are Nightmares. Your hand size is five. You always draw back to five at the end of a turn. The draw deck is your countdown. If you exhaust it before unlocking all eight doors, you lose. In the screenshot above there are two numbers to take note of. The red 10 means there are still 10 Nightmares in the deck. The white 71 means there are 71 cards in the draw deck. This number is your timer.

There are four types of normal cards - sun, moon, key and door. Sun cards are the most common, followed by moon cards. Keys are rare and are the most precious.

At the start of a turn, you have two simple choices - play a card or discard a card. If you decide to play a card, it is played in the play area at the top of the screen. You may play a sun card, a moon card or a key card. The only rule here is the symbol on the card being played must differ from that of the previous card. There is no restriction in colour. If you manage to play three cards in a row of the same colour, you unlock a door in this colour. You find the door card from the deck and set it aside, then reshuffle the deck. In this screenshot above you can see that one of the green doors was unlocked by having three consecutive green cards.

The second way to unlock a door is to have the matching key card in hand when drawing the door card. In the screenshot above, I had the red key card in hand when I drew the red door. The rules say that in this situation you may choose not to unlock the door, but so far I have never done such a thing. I think you would do this only when you are doing well in a particular colour and you feel you have surplus keys. Not unlocking the door means you can save the key for a different purpose. Key cards do have a powerful ability. If you discard a key card, you trigger a Prophecy. You draw five cards from the deck, discard one, then return the other four to the top of the deck in any order you wish. You can use this ability to discard a Nightmare card. Rearranging the other four cards can be very helpful too.

When you draw a Nightmare card, this is what you see. You have four options, and usually none are appetising. (1) Discard all hand cards, (2) Discard five cards from the top of the draw deck, (3) Discard a key card from your hand, (4) Return an unlocked door.

You may examine the discard pile at any time. This helps you assess probabilities and make decisions.

The last card in the play area is a beige moon card. So the next card to be played can't be a moon card. It has to be a sun card or a key card.

The Play

Onirim is a little weird, both in the backstory and in the mechanisms. I have not seen anything quite like it. It is certainly refreshing. At first I kept winning, and I thought it was rather easy. Only after a few more plays I realised at times it can be quite challenging. There are little tactics to learn here and there. The game regularly forces you to make tough decisions. Sometimes you can roughly gauge the probabilities to make a logical decision, but probabilities are just that, unexpected things can and do occur. Sometimes you don't have enough information to make a sound decision, you just have to gamble. The 10 Nightmare cards are like bombs buried in the deck. You never know when the next one will come. This makes the game tense. There is always a sense of urgency. The times you draw a Nightmare card are often when you need to make the most difficult judgement calls. Sometimes you hesitate to discard your hand cards because they are good, but then you also worry if you discard the top five cards from the draw deck they may turn out to be good cards too. This is a clever little game that gives you a decent challenge.

One blue door away from victory.

The winning screen.

The Thoughts

Onirim is a solo card game that takes only a few minutes to play. It is a filler. It is unconventional and an interesting diversion. Don't expect it to be a game you can spend an afternoon on. At the moment it is still free on Playstore and Appstore, so if you have not tried it, I encourage you to give it a go. I say this with a tourist mindset. Onirim is an exotic local delicacy you should taste, even if it's not something that will become a staple. I believe you will be happy to have experienced it.

No comments: