Ah the wonderment of a game that surprises the player with what the overall experience of playing the game are.
Take as an example Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion from designer Dave Killingsworth and SolarFlare Games.
“You are the lone survivor of last year’s Dead Run Incident, (an early game in the same family) and it is your mission to help keep the City safe, even when it is not aware that it needs defending,” details the rulebook fluff. “It was the night when the animals came back from the dead hungering for the brains of humans. Somehow, you were able to escape the Nightmare Forest before it was overrun by the undead. After your escape, you were able to alert the City, and raise a force that stopped the nightmare before it was too late.
“After that horrifying experience, you steeled your heart and appointed yourself the investigator of the strange, wild and unexplained in and around the City.
“Recently, you saw strange lights hovering just outside the City. You tried to raise the alarm that there is a new threat to your home, but memories are short, and your brief fame as the savoir of the City has passed. You need to go find out if the threat is real, and try to stop it before it’s too late. You grab your gear, call a few friends and head out looking for the truth. Can you survive another journey into the Nightmare Forest?”
To start I have not played Dead Run, although the idea of a zombie-filled romp as Halloween approaches does intrigue.
But in this one the forest is infested with aliens.
“When you play Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion the goal of the game is to work with your friends to cleanse the forest of the Alien Expeditionary Force, before it’s too late,” explains the rules.
“To save the City, you will need to work with your friends to eliminate all of the Aliens infesting the forest and have all the characters survive. You will need to eliminate all of the Aliens before time runs out or they will summon the rest of their force and take over the City, then the world."
This one fits into the genre of co-operative games, such as the mega-popular Pandemic series, and lesser lights such as Forbidden Island, with this one on the lighter side of things in terms of game play.
Nightmare Forest does allow for one to six players to take on the task of clearing the forest. That range in terms of players is a definite asset for the game as solo games are still not that plentiful, and six allows a good-sized crew to game together.
In terms of learning curve, this one is also rather gentle, so you can get a small group up to speed pretty quickly.
Nightmare Forest is essentially a dice fest. Players take actions by spending dice – at the beginning of the game, all players are Level One and have four dice in their dice pool. By defeating aliens, players can earn experience which they can use to level up and gain additional dice.
The grow as you go in terms of player power is a neat feature.
“In Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion, players must explore every part of the forest to find and destroy any aliens that are hiding there,” explain the rules. “To clear the forest, you flip a forest card adjacent to your character. Forest cards may conceal aliens, dastardly traps, powerful allies, or valuable gear caches.”
If you flip a forest card and it reveals an alien, you must fight the alien immediately (again you toss a few dice).
When you fight an Alien, you can use as many dice as you have available in your dice pool to inflict damage.
As you might have already noted there are not a lot of head-scratching decisions here. As a group you must eventually flip every card, and while some aliens are harder to deal with, the cards, while hidden, have colour-coded backs which make avoiding the bigger baddies until you level up possible.
A fun aspect of the game is the humour of the alien cards, which all include smart pop culture references or short quips that are pretty funny. Sadly in game you rarely take time to read them since they do not influence the game.
As a quick filler game Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion is solid, the kind of game most players will be willing to give a play through for some quick fun.
Check it out at www.solarflaregames.com.
Thanks to fellow gamers Jeff Chasse, Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.