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Subject: Nightlights aren't just for kids. rss

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Justin Frantz
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I had a pretty cool opportunity to play test Nightlight several times before the prototype copy was printed out and finalized (Happen to know the creator personally so that's pretty cool too). This is slated to hit kickstarter very soon and the creator asked me to write a review for it, of course I was happy to do so.

Nightlight.

In Nightlight you take on the role of a stuffed animal who's job is to protect the dreams of a child sleeping at night. You'll have some passive abilities on your stuffed animal as well as some activated abilities that you can purchase using skill points. Along with all of this you'll also be equipping yourself with an arsenal of weapons that are currently stored in the toy chest (to be fair, it's assumed these weapons take shape after being held by the stuff'd animal and the child isn't just hiding these in his toy chest). During the course of the game numerous amounts of nightmares will be trying to fight to get passed you to corrupt the childs dreams. Your goal is simply to survive till morning. There are three difficulty levels so if you master one, it gets harder.

One of the things you'll notice is that none of the stuffed animals are named, this decision was made because the creator wanted YOU to name them, if you had stuffed animals you named when you were younger this is an opportunity to imagine it's them defending the dream.

While this game was being created Brandon had mentioned that he wanted to avoid the convention of Tank, Healer, DPS. He wanted to have unique animals but not because of specific class roles that pigeon hole them. In the several evolutions of the game I believe that this was achieved for the most part. You get the feeling that the animals specialize but you won't find anything that feels tanky or healy. This makes the game very unique to play because there is no need for someone to "go tank" or "go healer", each role will be trying to maximize damage because it is imperative to do as much damage to the nightmares attacking as possible to minimize health loss. This in turn created an intense and edge of your seat atmosphere for the game.

The game uses a dice mechanic to determine hits and misses, one that was meticulously balanced and researched in order to make it as fair as possible. The thing that impressed me the most about this idea was that, after extensive play testing, it had been determined that played well the outcome would be roughly the same every game in all different modes. By that I mean that none of these modes are impossible, in fact they've been so meticulously balanced that even in the hardest mode, you can beat it. He'd mentioned to me that in easy mode he wanted to see 0-1 KOs and in hard mode 1-2 and so on. Ultimately the intention was that in the hardest mode there should be no way for the entire party to be conscious but you'll still be able to win regardless.

This game was meant to be challenging and I believe that's exactly what it is. There is a lot of table talk and strategizing that needs to be happening every turn to maximize the results for that turn. The nightmares will be relentless and infinite in numbers meaning you'll never beat every nightmare, your goal is simply to stay conscious. A few bad rolls won't spell your end and as long as everyone is playing carefully and using the abilities at their disposal you'll have a chance at victory.

My thoughts

Originally when I had played this game I was uncomfortable with the lack of class roles. Where's my tank? Who's gonna keep me healed? Eventually over time I began to realize that you'd lose the balance the game has if you incorporated these roles. I stopped playing it like an rpg and played it for what it was and instantly that anxiety was gone and replaced with the anxiety of my horrible rolls. I feel like the current characters allow for better immersion in the game, I found myself hypnotized by the need to survive, as if I were the animal I was playing, and I knew instantly when I was playing too recklessly.

I noticed immediately that when rolling the dice, just because you have more dice does not mean you are going to do more damage. There were plenty of times where 12 dice rolled 2 hits but 4 dice rolled 4 hits. This was something heavily taken into consideration when this game was being created. He had tables of probabilities and calculations showing that it's more effective to remove dice from enemies than to add dice to yourself and so on. These are things that you'll feel the more you play it.

I had the same feeling winning this as I do when I win Pandemic, that exasperated sigh of relief that it's all finally over and you just barely survived. This is something that I believe cooperative games require, it isn't optional. You get immersed in your character so his goals become that much more important to you, even the nameless child you're protecting means something to you (which I found myself caring for almost desperately even though I didn't know his name).

The game is very well balanced, it plays relatively quickly and is not really age restrictive. It doesn't feel like you're playing solitaire either, there's a lot of player interaction. It feels like you're a party and the defense of this dream is a shared responsibility. Be aware though, the game is difficult, if you don't like losing consider a different game. I'd imagine the first few times you play you'll very likely lose.

I'd consider this to be a medium weight game, it is not a filler. Though it might at first seem light, once you play it, you feel the difference very quickly. The game is a constant struggle and it'll feel like there's no time to stop and breath, and that's pretty accurate. The recovery phase is pretty limited and if you're playing recklessly you'll feel it. You are rewarded for cooperative play and safe play, only taking risks when absolutely necessary (it's dice based and those risks have an equal chance of simply failing).

Ultimately, I had a lot of fun playing the game, as it became more finalized and we could play it for what it is now it seemed very solid. The animals are very well thought out, there is more than one way to play each one of them. The nightmare deck is modular and completely expandable so there's something to look forward to in the future. My unbiased opinion is that the game is Solid, Thematic, and worth picking up and playing.
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Evan Chauvette
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Thank you very much for writing this review. I think the biggest thing that people are looking for in a co op games such as this, is what sets it apart from other co op games that are similar.

can you be a little bit more descriptive about when you roll the dice in this game? When co op games contain dice rolls, there is a fear that winning or losing the game could end up being on the roll a single die.
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N Tap
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(Preface: I'm the codesigner of the game, and this is my own biased opinion)

Dice are rolled in combat. In a nut shell, the attacker and defender both roll dice, and damage done equals the number of successful attack dice minus the number of defender dice. One thing to note is that A LOT of dice are rolled, which prevents extreme fluctuations in damage per turn.

In my own experience, winning or losing the game never came down to just a single bad roll. Though there were certainly dramatic moments of NEEDING to stun/kill certain monsters or be thoroughly thrashed later, each character has enough health to endure at least a couple bad rolls. In addition, the skills and abilities help to mitigate some of the inherent luck involved with dice rolls.

Now a series of very unlucky roles... well... there is only so much you can do about naughty dice, but I suppose that's what having teammates are for.
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Amber Harbin
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Expandable!!! Yes! Now I can't wait for my KS copy. I was worried the characters and monsters would get boring over time. I'm totally in now!
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