Version Reviewed: 1.27
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Are you finding it difficult to stay alive? Can't stray too far from the swamp? Then check out our guide for The Ensign!
The Ensign is developer Amirali Rajan's follow-up to the bizarre (and wholly engaging) underdog hit A Dark Room, and it's an awesome experience everyone should consider jumping into. Originally created as a browser game, it's a multi-layered RPG that pulls some interesting tricks that you won't soon forget.
What initially begins as a text adventure opens up to become a full-fledged, transitional RPG - complete with battles, equipment, and many of the other familiar trappings of the genre. Of course, the way The Ensign is set up is completely minimalistic, so these alterations won't be immediately obvious when they occur. Change occurs gradually, and when you investigate different areas and engage in battle for the first few times, you'll become accustomed to how the game has altered itself in important ways.
There are aspects that'll certainly be alien to you as you make your way throughout the obtuse white screens (tapping on weapons, for instance, attacks and you can use more than one per turn), and for a while it won't even seem very much like a role-playing game. But stick with it and you'll be pleasantly surprised by what awaits you - even if you have to wade through a copious amount of ASCII-styled text adventure bits to get there.
This is very much an intellectual game that will take some time to get into, but if you stick with it you'll find some very rewarding text adventure bits as well as a narrative with twists, turns, and plenty of surprises along the way. Of course, staying the course is required. You'll be faced with several battles that, as part of the plot, are meant to be lost. To players who aren't so familiar with JRPG tropes and narrative convention, this may seem as though you're simply faced up against enemies that are far too hard to vanquish.
The game's already difficult enough on its own without forcing to start from square one should you make a mistake, but if you happen to mess up that's exactly what happens. If you're the type of person who is easily frustrated or needs more visual stimuli to enjoy adventure games, this is one RPG you may want to pass up for something else.
The Ensign is a fantastically weird and wonderful RPG that has plenty going for it, but only if you have the time and patience to peel away the multiple layers. You'll find that it's delightfully bizarre in many ways, especially if you were a previous fan of A Dark Room.