Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is a game for 2 to 8 players that takes between 30 and 45 minutes. It is designed by a plethora of people and is published by Cranio Creations.
Simple box design and simple game-play, yet so elegant
Mike: The black box art is pretty creepy and quite good. Actually, I liked it much more than the ‘deluxe’ white box. Inside, your first reaction is ‘that’s it?’ A few map sheets, a couple small card decks, some pencils and a rule book....obviously. But the game is much more than the sum of its parts. It is a very simple game to explain and play. The card art is very atmospheric and creepy. You may not want to play with the lights low.
James: At it's bare bones the game is straight-forward. This is evident in the rulebook, which is short and concise. It's briefness and design emphasizes the remoteness of space, and the feeling of being alone the human players will feel. At the start of the game, once a map has been chosen, players are dealt a card to secretly indicate if they are human or an alien. Then the panicky hunt begins. All of a sudden the copy of the stylized hex map each player has suddenly becomes a death trap of a space ship. Unless you are an alien, in which case this looks like the layout at a KFC.
Mike: But the trick is to NOT let everyone know you are an alien too soon. There are additional maps on their website, so that part certainly cannot get stale, as each map has its own challenges.
James: Each turn players simultaneously and secretly plot their movement on their own copy of the map. Then, in turn, players draw a card if they enter a ‘shaded’ area on the map. Keeping this secret as well, the card tells the player if they should either keep quiet, reveal the map location where they are, or say any location on the map.
Mike: This is really devious, but puts demands on the players to be clever. If you state a position that is impossible for you to be at, it is likely the opponents can deduce your other trail was probably the right one unless you cleverly drop false ‘stupid’ moves.
Incredibly Exciting Game-play
James: Turn by turn the tension creeps up and up, it almost becomes unbearable at times. It really does end up feeling like you are in the film Aliens. Sometimes you can almost hear the scuttle of claws behind you, then you realize it's just the cat.
Mike: The degree of tension and the edge-of-seat excitement are incredible for such a simple game. I’ve played other ‘traitor’ type game like The Resistance but they do not hold a candle to this for atmosphere. The agony you feel racing for an exit, watching the ‘blips’ more closer and closer and then you find the exit you have targeted doesn’t work.
James: The game has a good deduction part, with the first half of the game players are never quite sure who the aliens and how the humans are. An alien is only revealed when they pounce on a space and scream "Attaaaaack". In the basic game, if the alien makes an attack and there is a human in the same space, the human is toast and the alien gains in strength.
Mike: The humans can move 1 space, aliens (if they choose) can move two spaces. However, if we see you move two spaces, you have been revealed. After eating, the aliens move even faster…Actually I fancy a sandwich myself right now.
James: Sandwich making apart, the aliens eating a human just makes a tense situation even more nerve-racking. Not only has a fellow human bitten been consumed, but now the aliens will be after their next target and not so afraid that they have been revealed. The equipment of the advanced game helps the humans a lot. Aliens can collect it, but can't use it. For humans it is the only way to fend off the carnivorous beasts.
Mike: I can’t imagine playing any more without the items, as they add so much to the game. Adrenaline injections to get the humans moving faster, body armor to defend off one attack, and even the coveted laser: a nasty surprise for the alien bastard that tried to kill you.
James: This is definitely one of those experience games. It's 30 minutes of immersive fun and tension where it is just as joyful when things go disastrously wrong as it is exciting when you win.
The game introduces a lot of elements through card draws.
James: There is a lot of card drawing, whether it's for alarm signals, equipment, or the space pod, but that just adds to the excitement. Remember though, all these card draws are secret, so keep practicing your poker face. Besides, to finally make it as a human all the way across the map, get to a safety pod, and then find the door is broken is as delightfully exciting as it is annoying.
Mike: More panic-inducing than annoying to me: I never get that feeling of the game cheating me. Nothing worse than having 2 aliens on your tail and find a stuck door. Or be heading towards on the escape pods the very moment your colleague blasts himself off into space, leaving you half a ship away from the other pod.
And The Final Word....
James: Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is one of those rare gems that is so elegant and so obvious that it makes you wonder why you haven't encountered such a game before. Hidden movement isn't anything new, but I swear I've never played anything so nerve-racking and exciting. It's not often I've leapt around the room at the joy of making a successful escape.
Mike: I never would have thought I could get so ‘into’ such a simple game. No dice, not tables, no heavy-text event cards, no chits. Just a few cards and little maps. The game itself has a huge potential for variety. The game website provides additional configurable scenarios where alternate and specific rules can be selected to meet your tastes, and a nifty tool to create your own maps.
James: Awesome, can't wait to take a look at those.
Mike: By the way, James. ATTACK!
James: Arrrgh!!! (* Gurgle *) Crunch crunch, smack smack smack. * Burp*
Thank you for your review!
Loved the review, equally love the game!
I have not yet used the advanced rules - that pleasure is to come!
Am I the only one who prints out maps to use as opposed to using the maps included with the game?