You know that part of some of my reviews where I say something like, “This new game is from designer X and he designed games Y and Z”? It’s meant to give you a sense of why you should be interested in that person’s new game, because he’s produced something awesome and recognizable in the past. Sadly, this isn’t the case for the creator of Dark Darker Darkest, whose main distinction is that he designed a game so bad that I didn’t bother to review it, because my mother taught me to always insert something positive into my criticism and I just couldn’t manage it that time. And since you’re already switching tabs to ask Goog-El, patron goddess of all knowledge, what I’m talking about, the designer is David Ausloos and the offending game was Panic Station.
But here’s the good news: Dark Darker Darkest is a hell of a lot better than Panic Station, and the foremost proof is that I’m reviewing it at all! It’s actually rather brilliant in a number of ways, though I fear it might be brilliant the way unpolished diamonds are brilliant, because some of its luster is hidden beneath blackened slag. What follows is a list of three things I really like and three things that could have been improved about David Ausloos’s latest efforts to scare you silly.
Remember the last time you played 7 Wonders and thought, This is nice and all, but it really could use some dragon-slaying!
Yeah, me neither. Still, maybe we should have thought that, because then Lost Legends would have shown up sooner. Also, maybe then it would have included the pyramids or an evil animated Colossus of Rhodes or something. Anyway. Lost Legends is a drafting game, simple in scope and execution: you’re a member of an incredibly selfish party of dungeon-divers, determined to forge your name into the greatest legend around, and leave your friends behind as footnotes in the process. And drafting! Everyone loves drafting.
Heads up! If you’re one of those folks who starts breathing heavier at the thought of an eleven-hour gaming marathon, who enjoys a boardgaming routine filled with quiet contemplation and deep chuckles brought on by ironies and reversals of fortune that have brewed and percolated over the course of dozens of turns and actions, who enjoys the type of boardgamery in which you write secret notes and engage in subtle backstabbery fit for smokey drawing rooms filled with chestnut desks and mounted animal trophies, who can think of no better way to spend an evening than slipping into the gradual slumber brought on by only the most robust gaming experiences—
If you’re one of those folks, Escape: The Curse of the Temple is not the game for you.