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Maelstrom UK
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The stories are what make this game great.

The app, with its thematic background music, helps set the scene. The finely detailed tiles help bring the environment alive. The plethora of plastic figures... would be better if I someone else painted them.

But it's the writing of the investigations that immerse you in this game; and that means there's nothing like the first play through of a scenario.

At launch we were given four scenarios, each of which brings something new to the table. I'll skirt around the spoilers here.

The first scenario, Cycle of Eternity, is a great 'getting started' game. A fairly straightforward investigation with a good balance of combat in order to get to grips with the rules.

Escape from Innsmouth quickly ramps up the difficulty and introduces some new mechanics. It also has a different feel to the first scenario - instilling a sense of urgency, claustrophobia and inevitable doom.

Shattered Bonds brings you back into a mansion of madness, again introducing some new mechanics and creating a desire to help the NPCs that are terrorised in the house.

Rising Tide is just excellent. This really feels like a true Lovecraftian investigation. The sole focus, for much of the game, is on uncovering the clues and compiling the evidence - not running around hacking and slashing at indescribably abysmal creatures that are probably impervious to your weapons (though there is some of that too). It's a long scenario, but so well written that it keeps you engaged and the tension building throughout. It's a tabletop version of a well-run Call of Cthulhu investigation.

The clear, streamlined rules also help keep you immersed. There's not much downtime, so the flow of the game isn't broken. You don't need to reach for the reference guide every other turn - but when you need to it's well organised and clear on the rulings.

However, there are times when the immersion stutters. The most disappointing thing that can happen is the app crashes. Bang, you're back in your sitting room cursing your phone (instead of your enemies). Potentially your first, most exciting and immersive, play has been broken. You're not getting that experience back. Luckily, thankfully, the app has become much more stable since launch, so fewer people should run in to such problems.

Other times an odd mythos effect might crop up. Sometimes they are designed to be tongue-in-cheek, but sometimes they just don't quite fit - the danger of 'random' encounters. The app could be a bit smarter about this sometimes.

Either way, this is a great game for people who like stories - whether they play through themselves, or make that story with friends. I've found that repeating scenarios with different people playing helps keep the game fresh - you get to experience their first run of the story too.

I'll leave other reviews to debate whether app-driven games are the future of gaming, discuss the rules, and compare it to the previous edition. But I'm looking forward (with unspeakable apprehension) to seeing what other adventures this game has in store for us; and if they keep writing well then they're on to a winner.
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James
Canada
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Re: So immersive you'll be submerged in the Innsmouth tides
As a mostly solo gamer, I appreciate apps that allow me to play boardgames I otherwise would not have the chance to.
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Maelstrom UK
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Re: So immersive you'll be submerged in the Innsmouth tides
grahamj wrote:
As a mostly solo gamer, I appreciate apps that allow me to play boardgames I otherwise would not have the chance to.


I've played this more solo than otherwise, and already more than first edition for that reason, so I definitely agree
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Peter Johnsson
Sweden
Malmö
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Re: So immersive you'll be submerged in the Innsmouth tides
MaelstromUK wrote:
I've found that repeating scenarios with different people playing helps keep the game fresh - you get to experience their first run of the story too.

That is very true, and a real joy!

Great review.
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