Before I begin, I was sent a prototype, and will receive a production copy of the game should it fund. This is not a paid preview. If you would rather watch a video of this review, check it out below. You can check out the Kickstarter page here.
One of the biggest things I look for in a game is whether or not it tells a story. This can be something told in between sessions, a la Mice and Mystics, or Wander. Or it can be something where the game creates a story in your mind as you go, a la Red Dragon Inn or Merchants Cove. Whatever style the game, I am always looking for one that tells me a story, that is what will make me want to go back to it over and over.
So when I heard about Eila, a game that is all about telling a story, but mixes in some resource management and puzzle aspects, I was certainly intrigued. It helped that Bairnt from Meet Me at the Table enjoyed it with his kids quite a bit.
The game is based around the small bunny Eila, who is trying to find out what the shiny thing she sees in the distance is. With some advice from her friend, the Great Tree she sets off to find out. She starts out nervous as she first sets out, being frightened by things falling in the woods, but eventually, will become the brave bunny she is meant to be.
The game play is relatively simple. You have a deck of cards that you will deal out one at a time. Usually, theygive you a choice of things that you can do. Once you make your selection you will either send the card to the “future” meaning it will have to be dealt with again in the future, or to the “past” meaning you are done with it forever. The choices you make on these cards will provide you with various resources that you will need to activate options on various cards, and more importantly will be how you complete your chapter.
Each chapter has a timer built in, with a set number of days that you can play through. After the deck is exhausted each time, you have to use energy to progress to the next day, if you don’t have enough, then you lose a health. Run out of health, or run out of time before you accomplish the objective and you lose.
So what do I think?
I love the artwork. It is just fantastic. Not only does it look great, but you are told the whole story almost completely through images. There are very few words that you actually have to read to play the game. Not only that but you can actually see Eila grow through the images. I played through the first two chapters, and there is no way that she was ready to wield a sword, but apparently she is going to get there. I cannot wait to see it.
I also really enjoy the mechanics of the game. Yes I always enjoy resource gathering and management, but the card play is delightful, and I love sending the cards to the future or the past. It is good fun, being able to decide whether you want to deal with something now, or put it off and deal with it later.
Finally, I really enjoy how you “level” up throughout the game. Any “habits” that you develop carry over to the next chapters, as to any tools you find, or purchase. This is a lovely way to make yourself more powerful, but with minimal need for bookkeeping.
Between each chapter you have a short little comic book to read. This, more of less, tells you what the canon events were from the previous chapter. This keeps the story moving along, in a, more or less, linear manner. I enjoy this, but some might think it can invalidate some of the choices that you make throughout the game.
If you are an adult, I do not think the replay value is very high. Yes, you do get to make different choices as you play, but I do not know how many of those there will be.
Bringing it all together
Eila and Something Shiny is an incredibly sweet game with stunning artwork. There is a wonderful little story being told, that I am completely engaged with, and want to see where it goes. The replay value might not be super high for an adult, but I can absolutely see a younger child absolutely wanting to play it over and over, just like they want to read their favorite book over and over. The game uses some delightfully clever card play mechanics, and basic resource management to create a delightful little story telling game.
Tiny little bunnies can’t read all that
* Stunning artwork, manages to tell the story with almost no words
* Simple card play a resource management that perfectly supports the story
* Might not be super re-playable for an adult, but I can totally see a child wanting to play over and over
* This game is a true delight, and I very much am looking forward to seeing the whole thing