PAX Online 2020 Highlight – Innchanted

Posted on September 23, 2020

Innchanted is an upcoming co-operative restaurant management game that places you and up to three friends in the hand-made boots of fantasy adventurers turned tavern keepers. You and your buddies (real or AI controlled) have received your first quest: managing a busy tavern with no service industry experience or savings. Each day is divided between frantic business hours and a nice, balancing downtime of evening chores. When your adorable animal patrons arrive they will quickly flood your tables, demanding their chosen potions or food be delivered as quickly as possible.

Serving your patrons needs is part planning and optimisation, part hectic dash, and a constant race against time. While keeping tables served, stocking your potion dispensers, and mixing special brews, you will also need to fend off literal cat burglars seeking to steal your hard-earned gold and rampaging monsters that must be fought off or appeased with food. Perhaps most terrifying of all, towards the end of the demo, I was notified that the health inspector would be visiting soon.

You may have previously encountered Innchanted right here on Checkpoint if you saw our article on games granted funding from Film Victoria in the distant age of January 2020. At the time this upcoming title was named Chaos Tavern, but I’m a fan of any rebrand that includes a pun. Developer DragonBear studios describe themselves as a “Melbourne based collective of diverse, queer, and Indigenous storytellers bringing our meaningful tales to you through play.” These roots come through in the world and characters of Innchanted. This is a fantasy setting that feels distinctly Australian, with platypus-people attending your tavern and your recurring emu spirit guest keeping you company while koalas rest in the trees outside. I anticipate good LGBT+ representation in the full release, though we only get a glimpse of Innchanted‘s four heroes in this teaser demo. I was drawn to Celsius personally, a sombre knight who uses gender-neutral pronouns and wears a fabulous set of gold and purple armour, as I often am drawn to any character expressing a form of non-binary representation.

After the tavern settles down for the evening, players select a chore for the night that will present them with a choice — will you skim from the tavern accounts to settle your personal debts or risk personal injury to save a falling barrel? Each evening is a brief respite from the fast-paced rush hour but it also presents a good opportunity to interact with characters and their stories. Each character in your party is presented with a unique style and personality, playing off each other in brief dialogue sections at the end of the day. Some of the patrons of your inn can be spoken to at night as well, though not much of this is accessible in the demo.

If Innchanted has captured your interest, I whole-heartedly recommend you check the game out on Steam and maybe even give it a cheeky wishlist. It is best played co-operatively but AI teammates do allow for solo play as well. The demo that was available during PAX Online served as a compelling introduction to a richly colourful and wholesome world combined with fast-paced engaging gameplay that’s sure to charm its audience. Now is the perfect time to experience Innchanted for yourself ahead of its anticipated 2021 release.