Disclaimer: this review is written after 13 games – 10 2p games, 1 3p game and two 4p games.
THEME AND VISUALS 9/10
Chromosome is a game about alien microbes that escaped secret laboratory somewhere on Antarctica. Players take on a role of those microbes and fight each other. Seriously, I can not imagine better theme. Especially when it is really well implemented into the game mechanics. Visuals are also awesome. The box cover, player boards, tokens – everything kept in this dark and worrisome atmosphere. I also enjoyed taking a closer look on board tiles – they're really detailed and you can find tons of interesting things on them.
RULES AND GENERAL GAMEPLAY 9/10
Rules are pretty straight-froward and rather simple. On your turn you move your microbes on board and take one of possible actions. There are 5 main actions (the same for every microbe) and 4 special actions that are unique for every player. Each action has its cost which has to be payed either in exhausting gens or discharging enough energy points. The core mechanic of the game is chromosome that will be filled with different genes (4 kinds) during the game. Depending on how you do it, you will change the character of your microbe. Fighting is based on dice rolling which some of you might not like but there are few options to modify its outcome – for me enough. The pretty cool mechanism is that you can even try to influence the fight you are not participating in by using your fortune points and forcing other player to re-roll his die.
That's basically it. The gameplay is fast, dynamic and exciting. There are few special actions that seem to be more powerfull than the others but in the end everything seems to be pretty well balanced (at least it seems so after 13 games that I've played) – especially where each microbe has one of those. The truth is that at the beginning we had problems with Alium (microbe that in general doesn't have any specialization – there are a lot of things it is good at, but almost none it's very good at if you know what I mean), but then we played few times and it started winning. Just needed a bit more effort to get into.
Chromosome is a kind of game that plays really different with 2 players and 3-4 players so I divided the next part into two halves.
2 PLAYERS GAME 9/10
This is where Chromosome shines. With 4 different kind of microbes, each of them having special abilities, with customizable chromosome and special pre-setup for 2 players this game is what I call a perfect duel. With just one opponent you will be able to plan a lot, to create options that you haven't even thought about before. You will pay more attention to the sterility level of each room because they might help you a lot if you use it wisely. In short words – there is a lot of strategy and tactics involved in 2 player games, you will have more tokens on the boards, you will be forced to build your chromosome in a bit different ways but at the end of the day this is by far the most enjoyable and rewarding variant of this game. Highly recommended!
3-4 PLAYERS GAME 7/10
Three words to describe 4 players game – chaos is fun! Yeah, it is really a pretty chaotic game with four players with almost no space for planning. The board is crowded, there are enemies all around and you really need to observe all your opponents and their moves to survive. One mistake and you're out of the game. Literally. Not everyone likes that and I fully understand that. There is just too much going on and too many fast-changing factors that will affect your situation. Anyway, we still enjoyed it and if treated as a variant of the game, not its core players count, I am sure it will give you lots of fun. 3 players games is better – I'm placing it somewhere in the middle of perfect 2p and lacking 4p game.
To summarize this short review I will just say one thing. I bought over 10 games on the first day of Essen Spiel and since then I didn't even try any but Chromosome. We're playing Adrenaline tonight but it doesn't change the fact that (even with its few flaws) Chromosome is one of the best two player games we've ever played.
FINAL NOTE: 8.5/10
Well done review. Ive had my eye on this as well for awhile. Going to be playing strictly 2, so that works for me. Hope its available here soon.