First off, I shall point out this is my first written review of a game, and I am pretty much writing it so that I am not just remaining silent on the game, and telling off game designers isn't something I do.
So if you cant tell, it is sadly not a good review, it is my first bad experience with kickstarter as well, normally every game ive gotten, while yes, always late, even by 6 months or so, was at least a nice, well put together game and finished, this game though, I feel has too many issues.
The components of the game are OK, but nothing special, and I have a personal dislike for the plastic health markers, they were a nice idea for theme, but as far as their usefulness... they don't do anything, they barely mark health, they are pretty long and don't secure to the card or anything, and if you got the playmat like I did, they don't work on it almost at all, I would have just preferred circles that fit better or even clear cubes or something, these are just completely unneeded in my opinion.
The mechanics in this game aren't too fresh either, I haven't played every deckbuilder out there, but this one does do some new things I haven't seen, which was cool, especially the whole buying into the hand aspect, however the lack of clear phrasing and keywords to make things feel smooth, was unfortunate, cause some of the way the game was worded made the game unplayable for me out of the box.
And so for the last section, gameplay... eh, I just don't know what happened here, everything about this game seemed like it would be fine, but after having to ask about 18 questions to understand everything in the game so that I could even do my first play... like I don't know who wrote these cards, but without trying to sound too mean, they need a different job, there are already several errata for the cards, as well as some of them just being worded dumbly, like the boxer's ability "action cards do double effectiveness" ...yes common sense can sorta dicate what that means, cause one would hope that if they just meant double moxie (the currency in the game) they would have said that, but there is no reason to kill the confusion, the card should have read "you resolve the game text of your action cards twice" or something like that, too much stuff in this game seems like its missing words or just not written well at all, some is just down right maddening with how its written.
My first official play of the game after getting it all worked out from a rule standpoint, was dreadful, it was a SOLO play, so that could just be the main problem, but of course, that's the thing about game design, if you are going to make it solo playable, then it needs to scale with all your player numbers just fine, but this doesn't, you fight 1 elder god and draw 1 mythos for normal difficulty, when playing 1-3 players, thus the solo play is the same level of difficulty as if you had 3 people, and some of these characters are awesomely powerful, some do nothing without teammates, and some just don't do much awesome at all, yes there is one difference in difficulty, which is that lots of effects relate to the number of investigators, however a lot of these are X-1, which reduces to a minimum of 1, so meaning it would be the same whether 1 or 2 investigators were playing, and honestly with the awfulness of how hard this game seems, id much prefer to take the extra damage to have a 3rd investigator with an awesome ability... I followed the rules, chose a RANDOM investigator, which I got the gardener, who mostly just does double damage with equipment cards, and my also RANDOM elder god, which was hastur, which is one of my favorite in the mythos, so hastur has the awful ability to summon 2 minions every turn and deal 2 health damage to me, and these minions have 4 health, with the ability to reduce your 5 card hand by 1 and also do 1 health damage every turn, I had a 3 moxie hand, i did not get lucky and have a good 3 cost equipment on the board to buy, in fact, the only cards i could buy were a first aid kit, which heals 3 health, or a getaway car, which draws a card... with 3 moxie and nothing good to buy, i had no way to stop my hand size from being reduced to 3, then the mythos card summoned a fire vampie, which is a 6 health, that does 2 health damage every turn, so thus i drew my 3 card hand for next turn, had 2 moxie, and no way to stop my hand size being reduced to 1-2 , and so with a maximum of 1-2 moxie every turn while taking 6 health damage every turn, unable to buy anything that would give me a comeback so to speak... i lose, essentially turn 1, basically showing this game, as written, you can literally just lose with no chance of doing anything...
maybe some wanna be like "well that's realistic" ok....yeah....it is, but we don't play games for realism...i don't spend 10-15 minutes shuffling and setting up a game, so that due to only luck, i die, IMMEDIATELY... to me, the game is just awfully designed for that to even be a possibility, much less an actual normal possibility considering similar results happened on all 3 of my solo plays, not as fast as the above example, but basically the games became unwinnable within 5 turns
So overall rating, i think the game is bad, i am still going to play it some more, and likely wont be playing a single investigator ever, since the game is co-op, its no great twist to just play multiple investigators yourself, but i believe SOLO-wise with one investigator, the game is near impossible, which isn't fun, so i have yet to see more of what the game will offer me playing multiple investigators, but as a single investigator view, nope, never, and i would go further to say i don't think choosing random elder gods or investigators helps anything, i think it would be much better to choose your investigators and elder gods, so maybe there is hope for the game, especially adding in some house rules of choosing instead of it being random with elder gods and investigators, and with definitely playing more than 1 investigator, and this is if you can get past the fact that you will have to study the official FAQ to have a hope of playing the game "correctly" , so if you still think the game has a shot knowing all that, then go for it, the art is nice and i do love Cthulhu themed games myself, but to me this game so far is the worst one ive played, and basically just seems like a knife fight in a phone booth where one character is a simpleton and the other is an elder god...