A few of us are playing Echo Bazaar, a cute web-based card and social grind game. Most of the gameplay is spent grinding up stats ala Kingdom of Loathing but it has some interesting small arc-like plots and a large story-arc “Ambition” for the character to reach new levels and “do” something.

We keep coming back for the setting. The premise is that London has, at some Steampunky/Victorian period, “fallen.” It is now an infernal environment filled with horrible people, demons, mushrooms, bats and weasels as pets, and devils politely taking tea. Bits of old London, especially street signs, are censored away. The character is subject to nightmares that drive them to insanity. Secrets are exchanged for tickets in an underground Victorian circus.

Someone had a great deal of fun writing the Ambitions, the challenges, and the prose for the cards. Text is short but rich — little sentences and paragraphs that evoke the feeling of this underground London. The art is fine but it’s the writing that makes one want to sit and grind to open up new parts of the game.

It does integrate with twitter. What we’ve learned:

– It uses oauth to log you into the game through your twitter account, so you do need a twitter account to play.
– However it does not spam your friends list much at all. You can, optionally, send out 1 message of text a day to get a refresh of turns, but it is optional.
– Rarely the EchoBazaar team sends a game update through twitter.
– Players can play games or contests with each other. This is communicated through single direct messages.

Unlike a Facebook game, Echo Bazaar doesn’t penalize for missing a day of play. It gives a generous number of turns/day (70) that it doles out 10 at a time. Things do constantly open up as levels get higher and the game is rapidly adding more missions and improvements.

Echo Bazaar is an adorable web-based game with a very nice setting. I recommend it.