Besides sounding like a Japanese sexual favour, it’s also quite a nifty little card game that’ll have you drawing and shuffling cards more than a dealer at the Bellagio. You are trapped in dreaming slumber, searching for eight doors that will set you on your way to waking freedom. However opening the doors is not as easy as all that. You need to play sets of three cards of the same colour but with differing symbols, either a sun, moon or key, in a run, to claim the corresponding coloured door, while balancing your hand limit and drawing new cards. Try saying that 10 times fast. However, if that sounds like a walk in the clouds then lets factor in that every now and then you end up drawing a nightmare as well, and believe me, by the end of the
game you will be more afraid of these cards than real nightmares. Even the one where you were back in high school, naked and Kelsey Grammer was your teacher. In a nut shell what the nightmares actually do is destroy cards that facilitate your path to freedom. But that’s still not the worst part about them. Every time you draw a nightmare you have to make a choice how to handle them, in the worst case scenario you’ll be discarding your entire hand of five cards, which is great for the nightmares since you lose if there are no more cards left to draw and you’ll be forever lost between time and space, which is of course bad for you…..very bad indeed. Unless of course you’re into class A narcotics, in which case you’ll have a blast losing. In the end if you fail, your incarceration in purgatory was your own design, and you’ll fall to your knees, curl your fists up to the sky and scream “why Lord, WHYYYYYEEEEEE!!!?”.
The three expansions ‘the book of steps lost and found’, ‘the towers’ & ‘dark premonitions and happy dreams’ each add a new layer onto the basic game and help to keep the spice of Onirim as sharp as it is dynamic. But none of this speaks of Onirims beauty. The serenity of the cards dreamscape imagery is juxtaposed with an element of eerie disturbance, which just like actual dreams, creates an atmosphere of wide-eyed wonder and trepidation of what lurks around the corner. So you might think that turning the next card will leave you a nervous train wreck then, but thankfully the theme works so closely with the mechanics that by the time you draw a nightmare you’re instilled with a sense of
soothing comfort. Playing Onirim makes you feel like you’re sinking into a goose feathered
cushion while a heavy summer deluge thunders outside your window….or like bathing in chocolate for seven years…..actually, Onirim is like hypnosis!
Not to mention you get 100% bang for your buck (the standard package available in stores now contains the base game and all the expansions for under 12 quid!!), beautifully crafted by Z-Man Games, and it all comes in a portable size box that you can take everywhere, as you should. In short, a shot of bliss in a tiny box.
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