Publisher: Memento Mori Theatricks
Review Dated: 7th, April 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10 [ Something special ]
Total Score: 10
Average Score: 5.00
Okay. octaNe has been around for a while and GameWyrd struggles to keep up with the flow of new releases – but sometimes a game is good enough to scroll back, ignore the waiting list and take a look at. OctaNe is such a product. Okay. I normally don’t start a review after a pint or two of beer either – it just takes too much time to fix when I go back for the final edit but octaNe just seems to suit a little haze. Really. Can you think of any other game which begins by encouraging the reader to watch Mad Max III: Beyond Thunderdome back to back with Babe: Pig in the City. No other.
Then there are the monkeys.
“Just a quick note on apes and monkeys in this game. I stand by the belief that anything could be improved with the addition of monkeys. They’re cool, man. Everyone is familiar with the great apes: chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas.”
How’s that for a game quote?
OctaNe is a post-apocalyptic game set on a fantasy Earth. On the West Coast there are the remains of California. On the East Coast… well, there’s no East Coast, you just keep on driving and driving. And driving. And if that bugs you then octaNe isn’t the game for you. This RPG is about the atmosphere, about character and genre shticks and isn’t about the details, complex geography and answers. By pushing aside a whole lot of questions and issues octaNe very successfully concentrates on doing everything else as well and as interestingly as possible. You can include a Ramones soundtrack without having to worry that there is no United Kingdom. The punk rockers could even save the PCs from space slugs themselves. Honestly, I can think of several fantasy games which could be improved with that stroke of logic-tossing-aside.
This is a rules light game. It’s about fast and stylish action. Your character can take out a bunch of mooks – those nameless NPCs – without even a dice roll. Your stats don’t define what you can do but, instead, describe how you do it. You character could be “Charming” or “Crafty”. This works for me. In fact, it works very well.
The system is easy too. Roll three dice and take the best result. If it’s a tricky situation – a Hazard in game terms – then you’re not able to use the best roll (or rolls!). If you roll high then you describe what happens; you could, for example, describe vaulting over the table in a flying kick and knocking the Fast Food Ninja to the ground. If it’s a middling roll then you get to describe some of the action and the GM gets to describe some. If you roll badly then the GM gets to describe the action. The GM can’t make your character look like a chump though. Mad Max doesn’t stall the car – not even if he rolls 1 – neither should your jet car driver.
Cinematic. OctaNe is incredibly cinematic. OctaNe is a Hollywood hack on hallucinogenic drugs. That might explain the monkeys. The game offers and describes several different cinematic genres you could play in and pay homage to. You might style the game in the naughty but not too explicit Psychotronic B-movie roadtrip style, the adult Grindhouse style, Arthouse or even the super real Cinema Vérité style. Wow. French. Doesn’t that give this review a je ne sais quoi? I’m certainly convinced that author Jared A. Sorensen knows his stuff and that’s always a welcome reassurance.
Whereas octaNe doesn’t get lost in a complex fantasy geography and doesn’t provide richly textured maps with entrances to the Undercity and Here Be Dragons scrawled in the corners. OctaNe does find space to run through a quick road trip tour of (what remains of) the world. I’ll just nick comments from the game itself to describe this; just take all that sounds cool and interesting from various post-apocalyptic road movies and put them together. There are intelligent apes, wild packs of cars, Death (himself), masked wrestlers, aliens and mutants. You’ll find this lot in a similarly varied but yet strangely on-theme setting. Elvis once ruled Lost Vegas. AridZona is a fortress city of sheet metal and razor wire. Monster Island was once called Hawaii and the Great White North was once called Canada. You have to watch out for the snowmobiles in the Great White North just as you should keep an eye out for Aztec Mummies in the Southern Jungles.
Ostriches are important in octaNe. They’re the primary source of food. Hmm. Ostrich burger. They’re much easier to catch than the ghost cattle and less dangerous than the dinosaurs.
OctaNe exists on paper form. This is a review of the PDF. OctaNe is one of those few games where I after reading the PDF I want to go out and buy the print copy. Not because I don’t like the PDF – although it is missing bookmarks – but because it’s a treasure worth stashing on a Cult RPG bookshelf, behind glass and with grenade wielding snake guards. OctaNe, despite all its homage to cinematic genres, is a genre buster. OctaNe is a game which will disarm non-gamers who think the hobby is D&D. Heck. OctaNe will open eyes among gamers who think the hobby is D&D or broody vampires.