Follow up Review – Echo Bazaar

A while back I reviewed Fail Better Game’s award-winning browser game Echo Bazaar. As I noted in the original review, there’s months worth of content to play through, and the game is constantly being updated with new content. As I’ve had time to play through some of this content, now seemed a good time to talk a bit more about it.

First off, my character is now in such a different position from where I started that it feels like I’m playing a different game. I’ve risen from pickpocketing through burglary to spycraft, dealing with revolutionaries, the police, the Topsy King and his Raggedy Men, the demons of Hell and recently sought work from cats and bats and become embroiled in a secret war between fortune tellers and magicians. And that’s just for one of the four stats.

With Shadowy, I’ve become embroiled in the seedy underbelly of Fallen London. With Watchful I’ve become a detective of some merit, an archaeologist of the Forgotten Quarter and acquired a place at the University where I study an ancient and dangerous language known as the Correspondence. With Dangerous, I’ve gone from being a street brawler and bodyguard into becoming a grizzled mercenary and hunter. And with Persuasive, I’ve written, painted, charmed, bedazzled, drank and slept my way through the Bohemian circuit to become the darling of high society.

Each path is different and evolving. Recurring characters like the Implacable Detective and the Repentant Forger really help to personalise the action.

The game pretty much rations out tantalising hints of its backstory and mythology as you progress. I’d been hearing rumours about the Correspondence and always wondered what it was. Likewise, I’ve learnt about a secret orphanage that all the urchins fear.

Alright, so enough rambling about the stuff I love. Let’s talk about some of the problems I’ve encountered. When you raise a stat high enough to unlock storylets at its next location, you’re not told this. You may not have unlocked the new place, or even think to do so.

There’s also an uncomfortable period where the challenges at the old place are too easy, so you spend lots of your limited actions trying to get your stats to raise by agonisingly slow amounts, but the new area is too challenging and you end up failing a lot and getting lots of nasty things like Wounds or Nightmares.

A lot of this game is just so much clicking the same thing, so it’s best to set yourself some sort of internal goal. Something like “I’ll raise this stat to that level” or “I’ll complete this storyline”. However, once a plot thread that you can easily continue comes your way they can be really gripping.

Most of the equipment you can buy is very expensive, likewise the properties. They’re worth having, but without being told which items can be sold safely and which ones have applications anywhere you may be hesitant to do so.

Two more things that I’ve on my list to talk about are Fate and becoming an Exceptional Friend. Now Fate, as I mentioned last time, can be bought with real money but they’ve also introduced a scheme where you can take part in or watch promotions to earn it. This works just like it does for other social games like Mafia Wars, but watching the videos is a good pain-free (though sporadic) source of Fate. With it you can occasionally skip tough storylets, get better rewards or unlock new content. The full length bonus stories cost a lot to unlock and I haven’t played them yet, but having some Fate kicking about is always handy.

I did pay to become an Exceptional Friend though. By paying 35 Fate, you can be an Exceptional Friend for one month. Buying 40 Fate costs roughly £6, or $10. What you get is double the number of actions you can take a day, plus the ability to have twice as many actions loaded at one time. Being able to play more of the game each day is great, and really speeds up your progress.

You also get access to the House of Chimes, where Mr Wines invites the most exceptional and noteworthy people to relax. It’s the location of some bonus storylines and other such fluff, mostly being low-risk high-reward stuff. As interesting as the house is, it’s definitely the cherry on the cake that is extra actions.

If you don’t play this game, why not? Seriously, go make an account. You can leave it running in the background and just check in on it every once in a while. Come, Delicious Friends, join us in the Neath. Don’t mind the Devils or the Rubbery Men, they’re quite pleasant really. Just watch out for Jack-of-Smiles.


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