“Ahnayro: The Dream World” is a type of spirit board game full of cryptic riddles with a Victorian-era narrative tying the puzzles together. The player is presented with a series of ‘tables’, and each one must be unlocked one after the other by clicking on items spread on the table and solving puzzles presented as ‘dream fragments’. A woman’s ghostly voice fills in the narrative as we take in the clues, presented as a sequence of photographs or drawings, occasionally with a cryptic line of text as a guide. The player must then ‘draw the conclusion’ on a sigil, spelling out the answer to the puzzle. The answer tends to be a person, place, or thing from history. The player has the option to reveal hints to assist you when you need the most. However, there is a limit of five hints per day. Research outside of the game is essential to solving many of these puzzles and this is in fact encouraged, as the game referring to outside research as ‘the waking world’.
The game frequently makes references to dreams, ‘mystical geometry’, and other aspects of mysticism. Your ability to spot symbolism is challenged almost as much as your google-fu. Each table’s hints are bound together by some common topic or theme. Once you’ve solved the puzzles within an item, you’re then asked to solve a final puzzle for that item with prior solutions as your hints. Aside from the hints system, there is a convenient world icon to help you if you get stuck. This icon opens a window straight to the Alice & Smith forums where people discuss and spoiler solutions. Handy if you really want to get through the game but also defeats the sense of challenge, so I stayed away from it.
I found the design of the game simple yet elegant, if somewhat lacking in visual variety. The narration and music combined to create an otherworldly feel. The main aspect keeping the ethereal atmosphere from remaining consistent is the fact that so much outside-the-game research is essential to progress. I often spent more time scrolling through Wikipedia pages and typing keywords into google than I spent actually ‘inside’ the game. Personally, this was immersion breaking, and doesn’t take full advantage of the medium of video games. Perhaps it would have been better served if the game had its own extensive internal library to pour through. Still, I appreciate the niche appeal of the game.
Victorian-era nerds would love this. The game has historical educational value; the player may find themselves pouring through material and texts on people like Virginia Woolf or researching scientific names for insects. However, I found some puzzles a little too cryptic, and I did find myself becoming bored with outside research. This is why I didn’t finish the game. I could see like-minded friends having a good time with books and paper at the ready, working together to solve the game. “Ahnayro“ could have been a board game, or even a card game. It didn’t lend itself completely to the advantages of video games.
+ Challenging puzzles
+ Beautiful music
+ Dream-like atmosphere
+ Interesting historical research
– Some overly cryptic puzzles and narration
– So much time required outside of the game it’s like you’re not playing a video game
– Somewhat dull
Sound and music: 4/5
Replay value: 2/5
Alice & Smith’s “Ahnayro: The Dream World” is far from the best puzzle game on the market, but the game is also far from being the worst puzzle game on the market. Simply put, the game is to be found somewhere in the middle (pros Vs cons). Even so, the game offers more positive aspects than negative ones. So if you’re into puzzle games, then you might want to give “Ahnayro” a try.
Title: Ahnayro: The Dream World
Developer: Alice & Smith
Genre: Historical Puzzle
Release date: 2016-06-10
Spent time: 5 hours
Average grade internationally: No grade Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: 12
Price: 5,99 Euro via Steam
This is a review I was supposed to write-up months ago, and on top of that I’ve been unable to finish the game. While my life certainly took some dramatic turns, there isn’t any good excuse for the lateness.
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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