Review: Survival Horror Tabletop Game / Designer: Adam Steel / Publisher: DarkMook Miniatures / Release Date: Out Now
Tabletop gaming can be a very expensive enterprise. Your typical tactical wargame consists of a large box packed with models, rules and counters and tends to cost about the same as two or three newly released video games. Such an enterprise can make it difficult for the smaller games companies to get much of a foothold, because all of that costs a lot of cash to set up and it also puts off the more casual sort of gamer. Luckily there is a way smaller firms can write great games and at the same time offer these things for pocket money prices.
The rather generic sounding Survival Horror Tabletop Game is a print and play game (though it’s also available in a pre-printed form with the printable files on a CD). This means that all the pieces come on a handy sheet of paper that you have to cut out and glue together yourself. This process is still faster than it would take to assemble all the models in a typical wargaming boxed set and has the advantage that if you lose or break any of the pieces then you can always print them out again.
Gameplay is quite straightforward and the rules are nicely simple and unambiguous. Players either take the role of survivors or of the zombie horde and have to proceed through a monster-infested police station in order to find the keys to their salvation. Each game board is randomly generated as players draw map tiles to place on the board as they run from room to room, scouring the area for useful items and an escape route. Movement is based on Activity Points; you spend these to fight, open doors and run away. The more your survivor gets injured the more activity points you lose, so the game gets harder the more fights you get into.
Strategic elements include picking which room to go into and working out exactly what sort of kit you need. Additional players make this even more complex as you need to balance out hogging all the goodies (such as med-packs and armour) with the likelihood that your fellow adventurers will survive the zombie hordes. The zombie player has this a bit easier though it is possible to be outmanoeuvred by canny survivors.
Game length heavily depends on the number of players – a two player game is typically fairly short whereas five players can take a good few hours, a lot of this being a question of luck and skill. Overall this is a cheap and cheerful game that will provide hours of gameplay, and it comes with a large number of budget expansions, adding to the fun.