The trend of turning classic movies into modern board games is pretty big at the moment, with games based on eclectic and perennially popular blockbusters and cult movies being steadily released by a number of different publishers. The Shining, Die Hard, Jaws, The Goonies, The Thing – even 70s gang warfare classic The Warriors now has its own board game. The Universal Monsters featured in superb co-op title Horrified, which is one of my favourite board games of the last few years.
Xenomorphs have got in on the action too, with games such as Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps and Aliens: Bug Hunt having been released, but there’s also the more horror-focused Alien: Fate of the Nostromo, a co-op game with just a single alien to avoid and plenty of missions to complete. Is it any good though? Let’s find out!
You’ll immediately notice when opening up the box that Ravensburger’s eye for catchy, movie-based detail is there – with the ship’s cat, Jonesy, on the underside of the board; waiting to screech in your face as you reveal the game’s contents. It’s a really neat touch; this level of detail, care and attention to the game’s character cards, quote-filled missions and even little visual elements on the design of the board really give the game an authentic Alien atmosphere. The miniatures are a good inclusion, but the designs are a little underwhelming – particularly the poses on a few characters; the Xenomorph itself looks a bit stiff and is a bit of a disappointment. Science Officer Ash – who’s used to up the difficulty of the game – being just a cardboard standee is another disappointing addition; however, given that his use is optional, this can be forgiven.
The manual is another example of the great attention to detail in the design; visually, like almost every other element of Alien: Fate of the Nostromo, it’s absolutely perfect. The same can’t be said of its contents, however; the rules are so vague in some cases – or just outright missing instructions, such as what to do if a Jonesy counter is revealed, amongst numerous other clarifications that really should have made the cut, such as moving between the decks of the ship, which is a really basic and glaring omission – that it makes the game a little frustrating to play. It’s almost as if it’s written so as not to put off casual players with reams of rules – the problem is, there are rules that are definitely needed here that are completely AWOL!
Though the co-op design and general mechanics lend themselves well to Alien, the game does feel a little undercooked in general – there are balance issues which make the game easier with less players (which of course, shouldn’t be the case at all) and it does seem that the family friendly nature of the game removes an awful lot of the tension and scares that you might expect from a game based on Alien.
It’s a real shame, but this game was seriously underwhelming from a gameplay point of view; so much so that I can’t even recommend it to serious Alien fans – of which, I am one! I wanted to like this game and gave it a good chance, but alas in its current form it’s just not worth playing.
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