While there are a few interactive fiction games in the style of a atmospheric board game like “Arkham Horror” or “Agents of Smersh,” “Cheftain” is fundamentally an abstract strategy board game about resource management.
Gameplay: The player takes command of a burgeoning village, making decisions each turn about what resources to collect and what items to construct with them. The game feels like a single-player board game, and it’s hard to play it without thinking that a physical board would be a better fit for its style of play. There are a few random scenes with some desultory descriptions, but they’re not interactive and have little color. The central concept of the game is similar to that of the computer game “King of Dragon Pass,” but there’s far less to do here, and the descriptions of what you can do are sparse. 4/10.
Mechanics: The simulation seems to have some complexity to it, but the rules and precise effects of actions remained opaque to me in my playthrough. The results of the choices I made felt completely arbitrary. It was unclear how the larger numbers and better equipment for the village’s soldiers raised the success rate of their excursion, and at one point I summarily lost the entirety of my large army from a random event. The game also contains numerous bugs: warnings of a “bad conditional expression” as early as the second day, markup errors, and a dead end on one turn. 3/10.
Presentation: The game’s white-highlighted text on a grey background is unattractive and awkward to read. Events have sparse and repetitive descriptions, effectively being the sort of text on a small card from a board game. It’s even unclear what the proper title of the game is; it’s listed as “The Chieftain” on the IFComp site, but the title in the game itself is “Something Good” (or “Something Good Copy”). 3/10.
You might be interested in this game if: You liked the old “King of Dragon Pass” game, but want a simpler and shorter version of it.