Unbroken - Dastardly Review #123
Unbroken was a surprise...a very pleasant surprise!
I had backed it on Kickstarter where it was a huge blockbuster with over $500,000 in pledges. I thought I was getting a typical dungeon crawl .
Artem Safarov and Golden Bell Games delivered much more than I expected.
Unbroken is a complete, unique gaming system. It is huge and awesome. Artem created at a level of detail that just isn't often found.
And the components are of very high quality.
Even though this is a new gaming system it all works together so well that I never had to use the rulebook.
I watched a how-to-play video and then followed the player aids and I was off trying to survive. That is just one example of how well this game is designed.
The premise of Unbroken is pretty normal...you are the lone survivor of a group and have to use your wits and abilities to scrounge for items to best four levels of monsters. You start out with just your bare hands. Using items you create basic weapons such as a club or knife and, if you survive long enough, maybe a sword or maul. And the monsters are fairly standard too.
And here is where Unbroken starts to shine. It uses all of the basics that we are very comfortable with and puts them in a new game system.
Instead of having hundreds of bits and pieces...Unbroken has tracker boards where you slide simple cubes to keep track of Effort (energy/health), Resources, Monsters and Time.
Time is the key component to Unbroken. Unlike most games where you can wander aimlessly...Unbroken uses Time as a precious commodity. You can spend Time multiple ways but it is not on your side. And as Time runs out...the tension increases.
At the beginning of the game you pick from 4 characters (brawler, thief, cleric and mystic). Each has unique abilities. As you beat tougher monsters your character can use their abilities more often. Also you gain skills, Conditions and Weapons to evolve.
The Monsters are fairly basic but battle mechanisms are cool.
Your hero doesn't roll a die to attack...each weapon has several attacks based upon the amount of Effort you expend. The amount and type of damage is pre-determined. Skills and Conditions can modify battle results too.
A Monster's attack is based upon a die roll (a custom die with slash marks instead of pips!). Each Monster's attack matrix is unique as are the rewards you get after killing the monster.
At the beginning of the game you pick from 4 characters (brawler, thief, cleric and mystic). Each has unique abilities. As you beat tougher Monsters your character can use their abilities more often. Also you gain Skills, Conditions and Weapons to evolve.
The unique game system plays fast and has minimal luck involved...it is up to you to make good decisions! Even card draws are decision based because when you acquire a card you draw two and decide which one to keep. Love it!
Unbroken has obviously been 100% designed to be a kick butt solo game rather than a multi-player game than has been corrupted to play solo.
The game system is top notch. Each replay is different than previous plays. Tension ratchets up nicely until I was almost exhausted by the end.
I was very impressed and enjoyed Unbroken a ton!
The Good: Unbroken is unique which is very rare. It is a great hour long solo play session with high replayability. It is destined to be a classic. Also the design should make it easy to add expansions of new Characters, Monsters, Skills, Conditions and Weapons. When those come out I will be first in line to buy them. Also I think Unbroken could be expanded to more than 4 levels of Monsters for added challenges. Hmmm....a unique game system that is highly decision based and has tons of expansion possibilities...a true winner.
The Bad: It is a solo game which is exactly what it was intended to be. I am very tempted to try it with multiple players even if that means buying multiple copies.
The Dastardly: Time. Pay attention to it. It drives how much exploring you can do which drives how many items you find which drives how many weapons and how much effort you have. It is kinda important!