I’ll admit I was looking forward to this one because of DeFord’s very good entry Onaar from two years ago. I’ll never forget that one, partly because it had a remarkably similar score distribution to my game that year. Mine was totally different, but I’m sure Robert and I share some interests, so the scoring thing may not be a total coincidence.
VR Gambler, more pure game than Onaar, is a pretty well-made RPG with weapons, loot, and turn-based combat. It’s basically a MUD or MUSH, except for the Multi-User part. Such games could have been the inspiration. I haven’t played all the way through, so I don’t know if there is a story-level twist or embellishment at the end, but that seems unlikely. The point seems to be the combat game. The frame around it is that it’s Virtual Reality and you’re playing to win money. That device turns out to be quite convenient for a great deal of game-level features. The terrain changes haphazardly across the map. Monsters disappear when slain. Valuable treasure transforms into “gold”. Teleportation is possible. And so forth. Is that device a cheap way to justify some game-level design? Well, yes, but not really. These kinds of games have never needed real justification, and at the same time, I don’t mind the effort to put a nice wrapper on things. The wrapper is all you’re left with for story (–probably), though. Killing things and leveling up in a text environment isn’t exactly the latest in gaming technology, but there are some IF-style puzzles here and there to keep your attention as well. I found them to be fairly simple and vicinity-based things, with the VR part of the game cleaning up after you by disappearing objects after they had served their purposes.
On the gameplay side, this thing hits you with what looks like a lot of things to remember in the opening text, but it’s really not that bad; the rules and commands are fairly natural. It does, however, poignantly hearken back to the days when games had Instructions. Remember that? As for the combat, it’s not complicated. There’s an attack percentage, damage value, hit points, and an armor rating that serves as extra hit points.
I liked that the game prints categorical titles in item descriptions to help you keep track of what’s what. In combat, however, the output does not seem particularly streamlined.
All in all, I thought it was a good effort and should be fun for the players who know they like this stuff.