One of my favorite genres of interactive fiction is puzzlefests with light humor in a fantasy setting. I was therefore happy to see “Charming” on the list and, as expected, had fun playing it.

Gameplay: The gameplay focuses on solving puzzles rather than exploration; the world map is quite small. It’s a compact game that concentrates on a few things that it does very well, rather than being more diffuse. The author provides a walkthrough, and the protagonist’s familiar provides in-game hints. (The walkthrough also mentions some optional content that I didn’t have a chance to explore myself.) 7/10.

Mechanics: The puzzles are mostly straightforward applications of the magic spells, which are interesting to explore. The magic spells are Infocom-style actions rather than part of a more complex system (as in “Junior Arithmancer”, in which some “spells” can be used as modifiers for other ones) or a more complex mechanic (as in “Savoir-Faire”, where the magic system is simple but has a wide variety of different applications), but they work well for the puzzles in the game. 7/10.

Presentation: The protagonist and her familiar are likable and strongly characterized. To explain the magic the protagonist runs across, in-game reference books go into the details of the spells, and it’s clear how the set pieces in the puzzles behave. I did encounter a minor guess-the-verb issue with the opening puzzle, whose solution I realized well before I figured out the right way of accomplishing it in the game. That didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the game, though, and I didn’t run across any other substantial problems with the syntax or text. 7/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You enjoy light puzzle-based games with likable characters.

Score: 7

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