Onirim Review

Released 2014
Designer Shadi Torbey
Publisher Asmodee (Website)
Players 1 (technically you can play 2, but really solo game)
Playing Time Physical: 15 – 25 minutes (mainly shuffling)
Digital: 5-10 minutes
Category Card Game
Solo
Hand Management
Set Collection
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Can you escape the nightmares?

Onirim is a game that players either know about or have never heard of. Like all well-kept secrets, not only is Onirim a gem of a game, it is also part of a greater universe – the Oniverse.

Why is it such a well kept secret? I think a big part of this is that the Oniverse are single-player games, and solo games aren’t given a significant push marketing-wise.

The Oniverse shares a common theme, taking place in a dreamscape universe. What more do you need to know to play them? Nothing. That’s something else that the Oniverse games share – you don’t need to know the theme at all. It is light enough for a superficial theme, however, go digging and the lore is surprisingly profound.

So what is Onirim?

If you want to get technical, Onirim is a set collection/deck management game. Make sets of three coloured cards with different symbols to unlock doors, unlock all of the doors to win.

Like all simple games, this does not sound inviting. But if you look at all great games, they all boil down to ‘You just do the thing’. The factor of what makes a decent or good game great is the extra feelings the game can give you, and Onirim manages to get into your head in very subtle ways.

All you have to do is open these doors. What can be hard about that?

So why do I want to keep reading?

As I mentioned in Last Week’s Gaming, I recently started playing Onirim again on my phone. Onirim has been on my solo playlist since it was released five years ago, and when I think of what to play next, it always manages to be on the shortlist.

Why is it always good to play? Firstly, it’s a known quantity that doesn’t ask a lot of time from me. These days, that’s always appreciated. Secondly, it has a free digital version that is spot on in terms of game mechanics and simplifies setup so much.

That’s right – for a change, I can do a board game review AND a video game review at the same time! And because the digital implementation is free, I can also highly recommend playing it to see how you like it.

Got a couple of minutes and want to challenge yourself? Onirim Digital is a great choice

OK, I’m listening. So what is Onirim?

According to the theme, you play as a Dreamwalker trapped in a dream labyrinth. To escape, you need to unlock all of the oneiric doors. Vefore you run out of cards. That’s right – you get to go through the deck once and once only.

When dealing with a random draw pile, getting the right cards is hard enough, but there are nightmares as well. If you are unlucky enough to draw a nightmare card, you will lose cards. The game makes you choose to discard the remaining cards in your hand or the top 5 cards in the deck. When you discard from the deck, if you draw a door card or a nightmare, they stay in ‘Limbo’ and are shuffled back into the deck.

I can discard my hand, but I need the green sun to unlock a door. Lucky I have a key that will beat the nightmare!

You can choose to discard what is left in your hand instead. This makes the cards you lose a known quantity, but sometimes you really need the cards in your hand, so it can be a harrowing decision to make.

Lose track of how many cards you have played or discarded, and you will lose. Get a bad run of drawing nightmares, and you will lose. Each decision counts towards a win, but the luck element has you dreading the next draw. It still surprises me that hundreds of games later (yep, I played a lot over the years), I still get that rush of excitement or disappointment as I win or lose.

I just need to unlock the blue door to win. But I have almost a 50/50 chance of drawing nightmares!

So that’s it? You just play cards out?

Yep. As I said before, just describing the game to someone makes it sound boring and question why anyone would want to play it. But once the rules all click (normally takes one maybe two games), you really start to want to beat such a simple system.

And again, the digital base game is free. You can try it yourself for nothing and decide if you like it or not. Yes, digital expansions will cost but it’s only a couple of dollars each, and by then you will know if you want to add new cards, powers and objectives.

That said, if you like the game I would suggest buying Onirim Second Edition physically. Why? It comes with all expansions and variants, most of which are not available digitally. Use the digital app to try before you buy, and see how much you like it for yourself.

The physical copy. So much potential gaming in those cards - and so much shuffling!

So what can I play Onirim on?

You can get the digital version of Onirim on Steam for PC, and there are Android and iOS versions as well. If the links don’t work for you, just search for Onirim (maybe add Solitaire Card Game) from Asmodee Digital and you can’t go wrong.

Final Thoughts

Onirim is a rare board game. It’s a highly abstract game that makes it easy to immerse yourself. While the core gameplay is simple, the physical version comes with expansions that let you scale the complexity to increase replayability.

Five years later, and I keep coming back to Onirim. I have that much fun with it.

But. Like a match 3/tap to continue mobile game, Onirim is a fun and challenging quick game before mobile gaming was a science. It’s not a campaign/legacy game, and yet it is a game that has continually pulled me back after long absences.

And best of all? You can try the excellent base game digitally for free. Even if you don’t enjoy digital gaming, the implementation is spot on. Also, the in-game tutorial is excellent, making the digital version a great try before you buy experience.

Overall
9/10
9/10

Pros

  • Easy to learn and play
  • You can set your difficulty/complexity with expansions
  • Digital version makes games lightning quick to get into

Cons

  • The physical version is a lot of shuffling and setup
  • High luck factor can put off some players

 

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – November 25th, 2019

What a week!

It was a long week after coming back from a work trip, but it’s over now. Time to start a new week!

Alpal showed me a couple of really fun games that worked well with my tired brain 🙂 There was a lot of Pokemon in there as well!

Back when I was a youngling, I would receive presents of these mazes with small ball bearings in them. They were a dexterity puzzle game, and I am sure everyone has played one at least once in their life.

Slide Quest is a similar game with modern tabletop design. Underneath the ‘level’ is a single base with areas for holes (traps) and areas to put various other obstacles on the board. And there are 20 levels to complete!

I don’t think you could play this one solo, but if you play with a group, the cooperative nature of the game shines. A lot of people will pass on this, but if you want a simple small party game with a challenge, check it out!

There has been no tabletop game that made me feel so 'old school'

Ticket to Ride. Alan R. Moon’s breakout modern classic is a game that still tops many introduction game lists today.

Ticket to Ride: New York takes this familiar gameplay, but applies them to a single city. The most significant change you will see is you no longer use trains – taxies are the order of the day. Scoring has changed, and you can receive bonus points connecting to certain areas.

It’s simple, it’s super quick, but it’s still Ticket to Ride. Seriously, we played two games with three players in about 40 minutes, including setup etc. If I can convince Alpal to play a few more games, expect a formal review soon.

Want an uber quick version of Ticket to Ride? Pick up New York

Pokemon: Shield (Switch)

Pokemon Sword and Shield is a funny one to me. On one hand, I have seen people complaining about the changes. On the other hand, everyone I know that is playing it is having fun. I even know one person playing both at the same time!

At it’s core, Pokemon Shield is your standard Pokemon RPG. You can now walk around a 3D world, and there are new mini-games. There is even a dedicated wild area for Pokemon hunting.

I am up to the fourth gym, and have caught 62 Pokemon at the time of writing. By the time you read this I will probably have more entries in my Pokedex. If you have a Switch and are a Pokemon fan, give it a play and enjoy.

There is always encouragement as you make your way through the Gym Challenge

Onirim (Android)

Warriors of Waterdeep has been uninstalled. I have another ‘big’ game that I want to play, but Pokemon took over my at home playtime. Oh the horror :p

What I did do was go back to an old favourite – Onirim. A great solo set collection/card drafting game, Onirim is great to pick up and put down. You need to unlock 12 doors, which you do by placing three cards of that colour in the playtrack. You cannot play the same symbol twice in a row, so planning and some card counting does help.

I thought I had already reviewed Onirim on the site, but apparently I have not. Guess what’s coming up Friday?

I am playing with the expansions here, but Onirim is one of those games that gets in your head at any level

I love the world of Munchkin. It is a great parody of so many things that I love, while somehow standing out as unique.

When I fund out Munchkin was going digital, I assumed a digital version of the card game. Instead, we get a Munchkin theme and flavour over Overcooked meets Diablo with a dash of Mario Party.

And, it works. I have only played one proper game and the tutorial, and not even on the system I purchased it on – Switch. Munchkin Quacked Quest is on Game Pass, so try it out for yourself – you will know in 10 minutes if it’s for you or not.

This room just started. It looks peaceful. That won't last :p

So this one took me by surprise. Late Sunday, I thought I would finally sit down and look at some of the games that have been piling up. I started with the top of the pile (the latest acquisition), and that was Terminator: Resistance.

And played for about 9 hours straight.

As a shooter, it’s a fine stealth game. It’s on rails in terms of mission progression, but the areas are all large and great to explore. It takes a franchise I love, and tells it’s own unique story. You are just dropped into the shows of Private Jacob Rivers, and then off you go.

Example of an easter egg nod - if you know Dr. Silberman, this was great to find

Plenty of nods for fans, but none are required to enjoy the game. For example, I loved the choices of name during one quest, and Rabbit was very confused why I thought they were awesome.

Terminator: Resistance will probably be finished next weekend, so it might be my next review game!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming 22nd October 2018

Tiny Epic Zombies

Onirim’s Tiny Epic Chest Open Tournament

By the time you are reading this, I should be out and about Melbourne – maybe even have had a bit of video happening over on the Facebook page!

It was a hectic week last week with work and prepping for the trip, but there was still some time to play games 🙂

Tiny Epic Zombies

So the first game I played this week was a new one – Tiny Epic Zombies!  My Kickstarter copy arrived a couple of weeks ago, and it was our first chance to have a game.

We used Harl’s copy, and he set himself up as the Zombies in a One vs Cooperative round.

It was a long with a few false starts, but you expect that in a learning game.  We definitely had fun though, and we will be playing this again soon!

Tiny Epic Zombies
It may fit in a small box, but there is a lot happening in the latest from Scott Almes

Dead Man’s Chest

What was intended as a quick example of Dead Man’s Chest became a full game in very short order.

It was a great way to end the night, with four of us knocking out the game with teaching in about 10 minutes.

All of my previous thoughts hold – it’s quick and easy to teach, with the bluffing mechanics simple yet effective.

I thought really hard about asking Alpal if I could borrow a copy for PAX Aus, but I am more worried about losing the chest at the convention!

Dead Mans Chest Gameplay
Another game with nothing much happening on the table, Dead Man's Chest is surprisingly tense

NES Open Tournament Golf

The NES Classics that were made available with Switch Online when the service went live last month.

With a lot of late nights recently I wanted to unwind with something.  And I knew that four new games had come out.  So I had a look.

NES Open Tournament Golf will not have me hooked for hours at a time, but it was a fun experience once I started to understand how to play it.  Frustrating by today’s standards maybe, but the elegant simplicity of NES Golf was much appreciated.

It was even a great look at the groundwork of some other golf games I used to enjoy, like Everybody’s Golf on the PSP!

NES Open Golf
Ugly and unintuitive by today's standards, muddling my way through 18 holes was nonetheless satisfying!

Onirim (Mobile)

So this one is one of those oversight games I have missed reporting on.  For some reason, mobile games that I play daily I just never thought of as playing a game – what a weird blind spot!

So a game I have been playing Onirim on the mobile for a long time now.  It’s an awesome solo card game, and if you have never played it before check it out for free on Android or iOS.

At its heart, Onirim is a set collection game where you try to match sets to unlock doors out of your dreams.  But be careful – nightmares and other things can hold you back!

The in-app purchases are for expansion content, which I very much enjoy.  But load up the base game and enjoy the great tutorial to see what you think for yourself!

Onirim Mobile 20181022
All you have to do is match 3 colours on the track, without playing the same symbol twice in a row. A satisfying solo puzzle game.