GAME STORIES (PART7)

In this continuing series, I am detailing and reviewing the various stories presented in many of the board games on the market. Turns out, most aren’t particularly good, but there are a few exceptions…

PLANET APOCALYPSE

I’ll admit, I was surprised at how much effort was placed in Apocalypse’s story.  I mean the designer of the game was one of the original creators of Doom, and we all remember the jewel of a plot it had. Planet Apocalypse involves the realization of a dimension of chaos (Hell) and its attempts to break into our reality as well as the steps taken to stop such an event from occurring.

The potential locations where demonic gates could be open are destroyed, and specially enhanced individuals already gifted in powers of the paranormal are improved through training and cybernetics to be the heroes of mankind, to fight the demons on their level if such an invasion were to occur. Do players assume the roles of these heroes?  Oh, hell no!

With all other powerful anchors of magic destroyed, the forces of chaos used those same heroes as gates, tearing out of their bodies and using their bones and flesh to forge the first gates to herald the coming invasion.

Ugh.

Players are actually assuming the roles of lesser-talented and flawed warriors forced to assume command despite lacking the power of their progenitors. After several initial battles on earth, eventually, the war will extend to the moon and into the realms of chaos itself. Amazingly enough, the story of Planet Apocalypse is detailed in a graphic novel that fleshes out these second-tier heroes and their struggles to lead mankind out of darkness. 

I mean, it’s not great…but it’s a heck of a lot better than Doom.

Story Quality: 7/10

RISING 5: RUNES OF ASTEROS

When you strip out all the fluff, Rising 5: Runes of Asteros is a glorified version of Mastermind. In the game, players altogether assume all five heroes present in the story, Ekho, Hal, Elli, and Nova, heroes tasked with resealing a gate to prevent the armies of darkness from entering our—wow, I wasn’t even trying to pair these two games together. But yeah, in Rising 5, upon the alien world of Asteros, its king has confined brutal monsters behind a gate and sealed it with four divine runes. However, a mysterious (and of course, unnamed) evil power has opened the gate and scrambled the code. Before Asteros is torn apart from chaos, the wise Orakl (I am spelling that right) asks for help from the Council of United Planets, who send the agents Hal, Elli, and Nova. Now all four heroes must solve the ruins and reseal the gate to restore the planet.

I give Rising 5 credit for including characters upon an entirely alien world instead of setting it on Earth, so there is a measure of originality. It almost reminds me of 80s science fiction cartoons like Light Years, but ultimately the game only involves defeating monsters to uncover clues to solve a puzzle that is randomized by an app. Fun game, thin story.

Story Quality: 3/10

SCYTHE

Scythe may be the only competitive game I may mention. Thankfully, it involves named characters leading armies into a collapsed nation to plunder its treasures. That nation was in actuality a city-state known as The Factory that possessed advanced technology which was sold to neighboring nations during wartime.  It is never fully explained in the initial publication why the Factory failed, leaving its surrounding population to survive on its own, but now its territory is ripe for picking. As these generals lead their forces into the region, they will encounter locals and make choices that will affect the population’s opinion of them. On its own, there’s not much plot there. This does change somewhat with the addition of the Rise of Fenris, the latest and potentially last Scythe expansion, which adds significant backstory and a campaign mode.

As it turned out, it all started back in 1901, and the Factory was in actuality the brainchild of Nicola Tesla, who created the first automated walking machines. The application of these machines to wage war is what caused Tesla to close the Factory, as he had intended to offer this knowledge in the hopes of encouraging peace. After the arrival of neighboring generals and the initial sparks of a new conflict flickered, a new enemy arose to threaten them all.

So that’s not bad; there’s certainly potential for a real Game of Thrones-style political conflict. It helps that Scythe boasts some amazing production art. And while there is not direct backstory of the named characters, they drip with personality thanks to their miniatures and national history.

Story Quality: 7/10