After looking at some titles from (relatively) big names last week, here’s a quick rundown of some more games coming out at this year’s Essen Spiel (mainly from smaller companies) that have also grabbed my attention. With well over 500 new games being launched at the 2012 event, you’ve got to have something special to stand out from the crowd.
Rumble in the Dungeon – Flatlined Games
The follow up to one of last year’s surprises for me (the ace little Rumble in the House) offers more of the same quick playing, gloriously dumb fun, albeit now with a twist. Taking control of two characters each, players move around the dungeon – if they end up in the same room as someone else, a fight breaks out and one character is eliminated. When only one remains, points are handed out with the most going to those who survived the longest… and that’s it. However, it’s a barrel of laughs – and now there’s the added concept of trying to keep your hands on a chest filled with treasure! I’m hoping there’s going to be some cross-compatibility between the two games which would make it an ideal party game for larger numbers and can’t wait to see this new version.
Oh no… INVASION! – Fablesmith
A simple co-op with an arcade feel, Oh no… INVASION! sees you teaming up with your friends to take down an evil Spawnmonster and its minions in a dark corner of space. As you build up your weaponry and defences it’s down to you to decide when you’ll tackle the big bad boss – go too early and you’ll be rushing to your inevitable death, leave it too long and the Spawnmonster will be unbeatable. Playable in around thirty minutes, it looks like a light but fun little experience that will be ideal to introduce folks to co-operative gaming who may previously have been reticent to try it out.
Trains – OKAZU Brand
Already played this one, but man… I’d love to get a copy. Take the simplicity of Dominion and add in an extra layer of gameplay where you’re connecting cities together on a separate hex map in order to score points. It’s not the prettiest game you’ll see in the Messe – functional is the most polite way to describe its looks – but it’s definitely a game that will keep you thinking. Limited copies will be available of this one, so if you want to grab it, get to Japon Brand’s booth early.
Codinca – Backspindle Games
The team behind Guards! Guards! bring a slightly different release to this year’s event. An excellent game of flipping and moving Incan tiles around a board as you attempt to match the pattern to a random one you’re allocated at the start of play, this is fast moving and often plain cruel as you see victory stolen from you at a moment’s notice. Good with four, it really becomes a battle of wits when only two are playing. Again, it’ll only be available in limited quantities (the guys are bringing a special Essen 2012 edition over) so try it out and grab one quickly.
1984: Animal Farm – Kuznia Gier
Orwell’s two dystopian tales rank amongst some of my favourite books, and when I heard that Kuznia Gier (makers of the excellent Alcatraz: The Scapegoat) were building a “modular negotiation game” based around the animals trying to take over the world I knew I had to try it. This sounds like it could potentially be even meaner and dirtier than Diplomacy as deals are cut and then broken in moments. Throw in some secret abilities and winning conditions and who knows how nasty this could get? And you thought games were only for fun…
Enter the Passage – Bezier Games
It always impresses me when folks make games suited to larger numbers and as this one handles a minimum of six (and up to fifteen!) it’s no surprise it’s caught my eye. Based on Justin Cronin’s Passage trilogy (the first book of which I’ve just finished), you’ll either be a Viral or a Human, both of whom are intent on wiping each other out. There’s also Amy, who kind of sits inbetween and attempts to assist the humans in their fight to survive… Sure, it’s essentially a reskinning of Werewolf, but what’s wrong with that?! With the second book in the series due for release before the end of the year, get a copy of this before it explodes and everyone wants one.
Robinson Crusoe – Portal
Everyone’s favourite Polish publishers return with a new design from Ignacy Trzewiczek. This time it’s a co-op extravaganza where you must work alongside fellow survivors of a shipwreck to make sure you’re safe from the island’s predators while also venturing out to explore your new home. Apparently mechanisms have been put in place to make sure there’ll be no such thing as an Alpha Player who seizes control of the game – it reacts to the choices of all players. Here’s hoping that Portal manages to pull off such a big promise!
And as well as these, there are hundreds more to check out. There’s no way I’ll have enough time to play them all, but I’ll endeavour to speak to as many people as possible and try as much out as I can. Be sure to check out the special Essen episodes of The Little Metal Dog Show – it’ll be almost as good as being there… promise!