Designer: Makus Geiger
Player count: 1 to 4
Play Time: 30-60 minutes
More information on BoardGameGeek.com
What the publisher says about it:
Space Kraken is a Rogue-like Sci-Fi Dungeon Crawler for one Solo Player; the game also comes with an asymmetric multiplayer mode for up to 4 players. Immerse within a fantastic science-fiction adventure full of strange aliens, quests, and mysteries. You will set up your crew, contend with various enemies and try to claim what you can procure, to upgrade your spaceship and equip and level up your crew. A Crypted Game Master (CGM) breathes life into the game by guiding you through various story lines that develop in parallel. It also administers secret things which are occurring. The CGM consists of scripted printed sheets (CGM SHEETS).
You can handle developments even if you are not able to see the contents of the events it prepares in secret, in a way never previously presented in a game.
You will also plan your own space flights and discover worlds which have never been discovered by any human. In space there are also risks, so you will become involved in different types of space combats as well.
This game is made for all RPG, science fiction, and tactical game fans who want to recruit their own crew to escape from Earth and discover the dark systems of the SPACE KRAKEN.
My Special Approach
Well … I’ve been a roguelike play on computer game for quite a time now and I can say I like roguelike gamesfor their easy, quick– Don’t count my Binding of Isaac 2 hours runs – and fast-paced game play while being deep over the course of multiple plays. I’ve been an MMORPG for even more time than I’ve played rogue-like games and I love them. And guess what I’ve been playing and loved for even longer ? Boardgames ! With my family and on my own alike.
So when I had the chance to find a well illustrated game that combined the three aspect I was very eager to review it and tell you all the good reason why you should try it too.
Well I neglected one aspect of my relation with Rogue-like RPGs, I’ve never been part of a good D&D group nor any other Game-Master-needing RPG.
You might have guested it already from my introduction – you smart guys – , i dind’t like the game, but as for all good and bad things I asked myself why. I devised from my introspection that the reason was not the game itself but rather the relation I have with such type of game. That’s also the reason why you won’t find any quantative evaluation in the following review, a bad evaluation woudn’t make justice to the work put in the game by the developper.
Anyway, I’ll try to explain to you why this game doesn’t fit to someone like me, I guess you can also read it to understand why it would fit to someone like you :-).
The book’s structure
The game comes as a single book and the only otherthing you’ll need to play are a pencil, an eraser, two 6-sided dies and one twenty sided one.
The book makes a unique use of ufolding pages that allow you to play on two A3 pages.
The books contains several parts. The first one dedicated to the rules is followed by the semi-random matrix that allows for the rogue-like aspect of the game. Most of the other contains the RPG items to customize your game (Weapons, Personal Traits, …).
The rules of the game are well writen and illustrated with understandable examples but that all the good I’ll say about that. As stated already I’m no D&D player and my idea of a rulebook is something that you read once to understand it and put it back in the box to be forget – until that moment where Greg ask you if you’re sure that the amount of coins to be payed can’t come from the gain of the same turn, you know what I mean Greg !.
Well, I had multiple runs and had to refer back to the explaination of the traits as well as the main rules in multiple occasions., because while being properly writen, the rules are also dense and the possibility numureous – which is not a bad thing right?.
The rogue-like matrix
The action you take are placed centered around a matrix that refer to scripted entries, the matrix is easy to read thanks to the multiple colors on it.
The story and the RPG set
While I don’t want to spoil you anything, I can tel you that the story is deep and that the choice are numerous.
Choose a Spaceship, 3 crew members and Ahoy ! You are set for a one of a kind adventure ! The problem is that between two decisions or two story paragraphs, you’ll have to go through the decision matrix, possibly go back and forth from one page to the other, remembering what digit where writen in the cell you had to go to. And that is if, unlike me you don’t have to go back to the rules from time to time to verify the way to act in a certain situation – after you realised that what you read made no sense at all and that you must have made a mistake.
This is the reason why I feel like the game is like a rollercoaster, after queuing for hours (reading the rules), you are finaly in the wagon ready to go and the first thing you need to do before enjoying the fast ride is climb slowly to the top of the track. While some might enjoy the view, that’s not why I’m in the wagon, I’m in for the rush and the fast adrenalised pleasure. That’s also what I’m looking for in most of the rogue-like I’m playing. Those are on computer and the difference is easy to understand, on a computer, the computing is done by the computer, I don’t have to go back and forth to find what text to reed next because the computers does it for me. And to be clear the problem to me is the idea to go back and forth not the decision making processes, nor the reading of the story in small well written paragraphs.
I’ve also read Choose Your Own Adventure books, but I like to think as them as books, whereas the intent – and they managed to succeed- of the Space Kraken is to be a Game shaped like a book not a gamebook.
I haven’t talked about the dungeon crawling aspect yet. While on a planet, the players of that book have to manage multiple stats to stay alive (or not to faint actualy), looking to gain or complete quest and defeat enemies as you would in a typical RPG experience. That’s also why I’m quite certain that the experience would be a very good solo experience for more experienced RPG players. The game allows you to customize everything from your ship, in a utilitary or battle mode – or an hybrid one, to your characters and their equipment with a well writen script and without the need for a MG. And the books provide a good balanced script, that nt all Mgs are even capable of providing (told you I had never been in a good D&D group, not that I had never tried it:D ).
The Kickstarter Campaign
I’d like to adress some words on the KS campaign as well because, the 3DARTLAB team did a tremendous job during the campaign and were able to realy create a unique wolrd while listening to what people wanted , including musics and compedium in the possible rewards. They even included a pledge level for a reduced price for people that can’t afford it right now, which is a nice gesture. Congrats guys, sorry I didn’t like the game mechanisms.
Long story Short
I’m a more of a euro/card game player that mostly plays solo or with two, but I also love rogue likes computer and RPG games, I tried a paper version and what I can tell you, is that it doesn’t fit the expectation that a computer gamer might have when they her « rogue-like ».
But, if you are a RPG player in quest for a good solo experience in a beatifully illustrated book that fit in any backppack and can keep you busy for hours and if you don’t mind going back and forth in a an A4 book , then you might found what you are looking for to keep you busy while your MG’s busy « studying for finals ».
It’s all about the money money money …
Disclaimer : I recieved a hardcover Demoversion for Free
PnP : 19€
Hardcover book : 39€
QuelqunQui (literally Someone who in French) is an eclectic who can’t stop doing more than one thing at a time.. Quelqunqui is a harpsichordist and gamer at heart that doesn’t abide by rules he doesn’t believe in. When not playing he’s traveling the world for the Belgian Air force.