Fantasy tabletop roleplaying meets point-and-click adventure and mostly makes saving throws.
Developer: Golden Orb
Publisher: Golden Orb
Release date: 26 May, 2021
Siebenstreich’s Nerdventure first piqued my interest as a point-and-click game framed around a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game. Did it succeed in bringing the magic of tabletop RPGs to the niche point-and-click genre? I, at least, was not disappointed. Although the game is not without flaws, it is a fun romp full of laughs, and in some ways, it even exceeded my expectations with some delightful surprises.
The game begins with the player arriving late to a tabletop roleplaying session. The Game Master (GM) tells the player there is no time to make a character and gives the player the role of a tailor, Taylor Vaughan. Henry, the other tabletop RPG party member, will play the character of Trudie, a vegan carnivorous plant.
From this fun tabletop framing, the player jumps into the world of Mirrormore and goes on an adventure with an unexpected environmental sustainability message. As a fan of fairytale retellings, I was pleased when I recognized “The Brave Little Tailor” as the backbone of the narrative arc. The world is built up with many humorous nods to various shows and games, such as Monkey Island, Dungeons and Dragons, and Final Fantasy, with Easter egg references to real-world figures like Bob Ross and Sylvester Stallone. It is obvious a lot of passion went into making this game and its world come alive with fun. I was laughing throughout, and I enjoyed my time in Mirrormore.
Gameplay and Mechanics
The tabletop adventure frames the point-and-click gameplay in a fun way. Trudie, as the second member of the player’s party, provides a naturally included hint system, and since Henry has made Trudie skilled in crafting, her character is usually (but not always) how the player will combine inventory items. Sadly, the tabletop changes made to the player’s attributes (e.g., +1 strength, -1 courage) throughout the game are cosmetic and do not meaningfully impact the story.
The puzzles are fun and punny, but Siebenstreich’s Nerdventure seems to be another recent point-and-click game that has unfortunately prioritized the controller experience over mouse-and-keyboard. The lack of hover or hotspot feature was challenging; most of the time where I got stuck was not finding the exact perfect place to click to activate an object, even when I suspected the object was there. In the mouse-and-keyboard PC version of the game, there wasn’t a way to close the inventory, which also made it tricky to pick up objects that were in that area of the screen. I did encounter bugs a few times while playing (e.g., inventory objects disappearing), but the bugs were usually resolved by reloading.
Despite a strong throughline for the majority of the game, it does lose steam at the end, with the final ‘puzzle’ being a trivia show. I ended up not being clear about the resolution of some earlier plot points. This doesn’t bother me too much though as it is very in keeping with the fact that tabletop RPGs can sometimes go in random directions as influenced by the players making unexpected choices that derail the Dungeon Master’s plan.
Art Style and Graphics
There is nothing particularly novel about the hand-drawn art and animations other than not being the typical aesthetic found in tabletop fantasy artwork. In fact, there are some aspects that are a bit odd, such as the main character’s mustache. In other words, the art style and graphics are satisfactory, but I doubt the game will be praised for its visuals.
Sound and Music
Within the game universe, the music for Siebenstreich’s Nerdventure is chosen by the GM to fit the story, and in a funny oops moment, the GM even accidentally starts playing the wrong track at one point. There is technically voice acting, but in what I find a puzzling decision, the developers have opted for nonsensical speech (think a cross between The Sims and the adults in Peanuts). Similar to the art style and graphics, the sound and music are interesting but not particularly noteworthy.
Siebenstreich’s Nerdventure has 15 possible Steam achievements, with some that are missable. It appears as though some achievements may not be possible within the same playthrough, which will make 100% achievements a challenge since the game does not have multiple save slots. Also, as of the time of review some achievements may not be unlocking correctly. For example, I unlocked the achievement for successfully finishing the game in 42 minutes or less during my first playthrough of 3 hours, but I am unsure how that was calculated if it’s not using real time.
Siebenstreich’s Nerdventure is $14.99 USD at the time of review and took me about 3 hours for an initial playthrough, so it is perhaps a little expensive to buy at full price considering its rough edges. However, for an effort from a team of two, it is full of laughs and overall very solid, even if not perfectly polished. I certainly hope to see future efforts from the developers and am excited to see where they go from here.