Unrailed Review

Posted by | PC, PlayStation 4, Reviews, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

Available On: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One

Taking a cue from the much-loved co-op series Overcooked, Unrailed is a zany co-op survival adventure in which a team of players hurry to mine resources and lay tracks to keep their unstoppable train from crashing. Unrailed lacks the visual charm of Overcooked but adds more dire stakes as the tracks stretch farther and farther.

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Escape the Room: The Cursed Dollhouse Review

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Publisher: ThinkFun
Age: 13+
Players: 1-4
Game Length: 2-4 hours
MSRP: $42.99

Escape Room board games have been around for years, emulating the unique Escape Room experience of solving riddles and puzzles with friends in a heavily thematic setting.

While other Escape Room board games are filled with envelopes, lock boxes, and pages of cryptic clues, the newest Escape the Room game from ThinkFun, The Cursed Dollhouse, transforms the entire game box into a 3D Dollhouse for an immersive and horror-themed puzzle-solving experience – perfect for a Halloween get-together!

Come Play With Us

Some assembly is required to create the evil, haunted dollhouse, as the two halves of the box form the four rooms of the house, along with an attic on top. Each room contains some tantalizing objects to investigate: a bookshelf in pieces, a foldable shower curtain, a locked chest, and several different kinds of dolls.

After assembly we begin the Escape Room by reading from the manual, which drops us into the supernatural dollhouse like an episode of The Twilight Zone. The writing is richly evocative and doesn’t wear out its welcome – we only read from the manual after completing a room and moving to the next one, as the story grows more desperate.

The goal is to escape the house by solving puzzles in each room one by one, beginning in the living room. Each room holds several puzzles that we’ll need to solve in order to plug in the correct symbols into the code wheel and unlock the next room.

The room-by-room approach helps keep the story focused while providing several puzzles to work through simultaneously. What makes The Cursed Dollhouse special is the tactile joy from physically searching the rooms for clues and objects, not unlike a classic Point and Click adventure video game.

Like an Adventure game, it’s entirely possible to get completely stumped. I’m no Escape Room veteran but I have played a number of puzzle games, and The Cursed Dollhouse doesn’t pull any punches. The Kitchen alone had my wife and me scratching our heads for nearly an hour.

Thankfully ThinkFun includes an intuitive digital hint system on their website, as well as mood music,  and reassembly instructions. By clicking on a room, then an object, you can easily pull up only the specific hint you need, beginning with a slight nudge all the way to the full solution. It’s a smart approach that gives us the satisfying Ah-Ha moment without spoiling the whole puzzle.

The Rating

The recommended age rating for Escape the Room: The Cursed Dollhouse is 13+. Puzzles can be quite complex, but more importantly the theming is classic Horror (though never R-rated) as you work to escape an evil haunted house.

The Takeaway

After playing The Cursed Dollhouse, I can’t imagine returning to the mundane 2D picture cards of other Escape Room games. The 3D puzzle box expertly captures foreboding tension while focusing on diabolical puzzles, making Escape the Room: The Cursed Dollhouse the best escape room experience you can have without leaving your home.

Find Escape the Room: The Cursed Dollhouse at Amazon.

Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power Review

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Publisher: Ravensburger
Age: 12+
Players: 2-4
Game Length: 40-80 minutes
MSRP: $34.99

After the big success of Disney Villainous and its many expansions, Ravensburger has released a new entry in the Villainous universe: Marvel Villainous.

Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power is much more than a re-theme, however, adding new gameplay elements that reflect the shared universe of the comics and films.

Super Villainous

If you’re familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can probably guess the five villains included in Marvel Villainous: Thanos, Ultron, Hela, Killmonger, and Taskmaster (who appears in the delayed Black Widow film).

Like Disney Villainous, each Marvel villain has their own game board, token, deck of cards, and their own unique win condition. Hela needs to defeat enemies and acquire souls, Killmonger must plants bombs around Wakanda, while Thanos is after a bunch of colorful stones, you may have heard of them.

Each turn villains move their token to different regions in their domain and perform the listed actions, such as gaining power, playing cards, and drawing a fate card for their opponent.

The shared fate deck is one of the biggest changes from Disney Villainous. Instead of each villain having their own fate deck, everyone’s fate decks are shuffled together, along with a generic fate deck, to create one big fate deck that everyone draws from.

The shared deck is a nice reflection of the shared Marvel universe. Iron Man is just as big a headache for Thanos as Ultron, after all. Fate cards also include new events, which act as additional locations that impose a nasty penalty on one or more villains, until they divert some of their allies to defeat it.

The downside of the shared Fate deck is that players are only drawing one card from the relatively large deck, and only a portion of the deck truly hampers any one villain; whereas in Disney Villainous, every draw of the villains’ fate deck is specifically tailored to set them back in different ways.

The Mad Titan

Marvel Villainous attempts to fix one of the biggest problems with Disney Villainous: needing to find a particular card in your deck to move forward with your objective. To alleviate the desperate card search, it introduces new Specialty tokens and a new Specialty slot on each villain’s game board. These tokens, such as the Infinity Stones or Ultron’s upgrades, exist outside of the villains’ decks, allowing for more flexibility.

In the case of Ultron and Killmonger, the specialty tokens are used to keep track of their progress, as well as granting advantages and disadvantages throughout the game. Thanos, as befitting one of the biggest villains in the Marvel Universe, is in a league of his own when it comes to this new specialty system.

All six of Thanos’ Infinity Stones are specialty tokens. Through certain cards, the stones are placed in an enemy villain’s territory, where Thanos must send over troops, defeat that villain’s allies, then return with the stone. The stones grant powers to enemies and to Thanos once he acquires them, giving him more and more power as he collects them. Thematically it’s a bit strange – you would think Thanos would need to defeat pesky heroes with stones, not other villains.

Having Thanos in a game completely shakes up the normal pace, where direct player interaction was mostly limited to drawing Fate cards on each other. It’s not an entirely welcome change – Thanos can move his troops into your territory and really wreck things up, much to that players’s annoyance. For someone like Taskmaster, whose whole goal is to power up his troops, it can be absolutely devastating.

The Rating

The recommended age for Marvel Villainous is 12+, a slight bump up from the 10+ Disney Villainous. With its added fate locations, specialty tokens, and multi-step win conditions, Marvel Villainous is a bit more advanced than its older sibling.

Despite his popularity, we would recommend not playing Thanos in your first game due to his added complexity and interaction.

The Takeaway

Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power mostly delivers as a solid comic version of Disney Villainous and will undoubtedly be just as welcoming to future expansions with more villains. Marvel fans will love the colorful artwork, striking tokens, and thematic objectives. The few big gameplay changes are enough to make the game feel different, though not necessarily a straight improvement.

Find Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power at Amazon and Target.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review

Posted by | PC, PlayStation 4, Reviews | No Comments

Available On: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4

There’s no denying the incredible popularity of the Battle Royale genre in just a few short years. PUBG and Fortnite still dominate the genre (the latter becoming a cultural phenomenon). Others have tried to emulate the combination of massively multiplayer matches, seasonal events with unlockable goodies, and bankrolling microtransactions to varying degrees of success.

Enter Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, Devolver Digital’s refreshingly non-violent take on the mammoth genre. The intuitive controls, humorous art and physics, and fast-paced gameplay has my family constantly passing the controller back and forth for “just one more round.”

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Sagrada Review

Posted by | Mobile, PC, Reviews, Switch | No Comments

Available On: PC (Steam), Mobile (iOS, Android), Switch

Sagrada is a dice-drafting tabletop game where players compete to create their own beautiful stained glass windows using colorful dice. The intuitive, family-friendly gameplay translates wonderfully to digital platforms and includes an impressive list of features, including asynchronous online multiplayer and a single player campaign.

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