Game Review: Oniri Islands: Children of the River


By Susan Platt (@swissbizchick)
A collaborative tablet game that combines old-school role-playing figurines and a gorgeous illustrated interactive digital fantasy story?
Sounds almost too good to be true for old-school gamers, right?
Geneva based designers Tourmaline Studio are in the process of developing exactly such a game and with a little help from the Kickstarting community, and you should be able to get your hands on it very soon.
I had a chance to test the pre-launch version at the Swiss Ludicious game festival a couple of weeks ago, where the game was entered into the International Competition. As two players are necessary for the family geared game, I enlisted the help of the kid, a savvy gamer in her own right, to venture into this new territory with me.
In the story, you help Mina & Tim, two children lost on a mysterious island, look for their shadows. The heroes come in the shape of two smart toys that connect to your tablet and to be able to get around the different areas, both figurines must be moved close to each other at the edge of the screen. This requires the players to collaborate and to make decisions together, on which area of the game should be explored next.
In the game, Mina and Tim will find animal masks that grant them powers and help them survive. To bridge the gap between on-and-offline parts of the game, the developers produced five beautiful little animal masks that can be clipped onto the characters while their online selves are wearing them.
While we were only able to test one out of the six chapters in the game, both the kid and I quickly got sucked into the narrative and the gameplay features. After some initial setbacks trying to coordinate our collaborative effort and agreeing on where to move next, I realized that the kid had a much better grasp on where and how the puzzles could be solved. So, once I followed her lead we made good progress and enjoyed the beautiful, handcrafted 3D illustrations along the ride. Apart from the innovative type of gameplay, I, personally, very much appreciated the gender friendly approach that is prevalent throughout the game.
Eventually, we had to abandon our quest, as there were other impatient players, keen on diving into this new kind of adventure themselves. As the production is not fully funded yet, the developers will begin a Kickstarter campaign in March 2017. If you enjoy mixing the old with the new in the gaming universe, keep an eye out for Oniri Islands. I have a hunch this could become a classic.
Platform: iOS and Android
Costs: On Kickstarter in March 2017
Age group: 6 and up

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