Friday, January 10, 2014

Board Game: Room 25 - review

Room 25: Run - Survive - Escape - Be Scared
 
Do you remember The Cube? Well, I sure do. I remember that nerve-stretching, scary, but at the same time curious and intriguing experience that it provided. Have you ever wanted to stand in the shoes of those poor characters? To experience what they experienced? Now, thanks to Room 25, you can!

In this game you take a role of a "TV contestant", which is put into a complex of shifting, unknown rooms, some of which kill you upon entering. There are several game modes, but basically it boils down to this: you/your team must find room 25, get everybody to it and then shift it out of the complex to win and become famous (this is a TV show, remember?). Oh, and by the way, you only have 8/10 turns to do this, so no wandering around doing silly business.

The modes allow you to play on your own (Solo), in competing teams or as a big group which has some disguised bad guys called guards in it (Suspicion).

I've only played 2 suspicion mode beginner games and half of the solo mode, so take this with a grain of salt, but for the price I think this one is a winner.

Suspicion mode

 

We've played this two times with 5 people. The first time was the first time we've played the game ever, so it was a bit odd. However everybody got quickly up to speed with the rules and the downtime was minimal.

We've used soundtrack of The Cube to enhance the atmosphere and it helped a lot. Everybody was sitting at the edges of their seats, wondering what they shall do next and who's the traitor among them. It led to great interactions like this one.
  • P1: *looks at a room on his turn*
  • P2: Is it safe?
  • P1: Oh yea, perfectly.
  • P2: Well, if you say so... *pushes P1 into the room on his turn*
So if you're a guard you can't just act openly or people will immediately see this. The funny part was when the guy, who played a guard stepped into a room which was marked as mortally dangerous by a good guy with the intention to "check if he's not a guard and gain trust among other players". Poor old chap was burnt down to ashes instantly. We also won that game.

The second game was a lot more desperate for the prisoners (yes, they call you that. TV is cruel in the future). When you play with 5 players you get 1 or 2 guards amongst you. We started and one of the guards started acting very clearly from the beginning. So we stayed out of his way and ran circles around the dangerous rooms.

However the game was going on, time was ticking and room 25 was nowhere to be found. There were only 3 rooms left which were not checked, and they were in different corners, so we rushed to the one that had to be it only to find a dark chamber there. Everybody at the table had a moment of disbelief and were stunned when an evil laugh broke the spell.

It turns out we had 2 guards this game and when one of them gave itself away so clearly we let our guard down. So the other guard found room 25, told us it was a dangerous room and doomed us to our death.

 

Solo game

 

While the competitive mode felt great and we'll definitely play it again solo mode didn't stick to me. In this mode you control 4 characters and give them 2 orders each turn.

It all seems OK, but I guess it's just me and my nature. You have only 4 markers to mark things and you run out of those quickly as you can only recover them if you go into the room.

Because I use them to mark rooms I do not want to go to, they run out very quickly and room 25 suddenly becomes a memory game. Where as with other players I know I have limited information and can ask others whether they remember what kind of room was it, when playing with myself I feel like I'm trying to overwork my brain remembering all the tiles when they are shifting around.

This and also the tendency to look at tiles when you're not supposed to (in other words - cheat against the game) ruins the solo experience for me. Although this may not be the case with you and is just my problem.


Conclusion

 

Pros

 

  • Quick play time: 30-60 mins.
  • Easy rules, can quickly introduce to a game.
  • Has a lot of social aspect in it, you have to talk to others.
  • Relatively cheap: ~20 EUR in Lithuania.
  • Very thematic - given that you enjoy the theme.
  • Adjustable difficulty - you can select beginner or expert tile setting or even create your own.

Cons

 

  • It's not something you can play over and over again constantly. I feel like 2-3 sessions of this game per week is enough.
  • Solo mode quickly becomes a memory game. Someone on Board Game Geek offers an alternative variant of the Room 25 Solo game - that could help perhaps.

Final words


So far I like the game. I've bought games that seemed like a disappointment from the first time I've played them (I'm looking at you, Ligretto. Thankfully I sold it for two drinks) and this is not one of them.

If you're interested in playing this with me and are in Kaunas, Lithuania, write a comment and we can arrange something :)

P.S.: here's a Dice Tower video review of Room 25.

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