"In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream!" But, sitting around our gaming table about to draw a card that could either see us either escape and win the day or be frightened to death by the titular Alien. In those circumstances, you can absolutely hear us scream!
Alien: Fate of the Nostromo is a board game adaptation of the Movie. It follows the crew of the Nostromo as they deal with said Alien that is roaming around the ship causing havoc.
If you haven’t seen the movie Alien then firstly, why not? And secondly, I would suggest you go and watch it immediately. Without giving things away the game picks things up around halfway through the movie. The Alien is on board and the crew must complete several objectives before the climactic final scenes. Then they will need to deal with the creature or escape.
The Alien movie is an iconic piece of cinema, full of tension and shocks, so Alien: Fate of the Nostromo has big shoes to fill. Does it manage it? Let’s take a look.
Published by Ravensburger Alien: Fate of the Nostromo has all the quality you would expect. In fact, production-wise, it very much reminds me of their other recent movie tie in Jaws, The Game
Upon opening the box, you are greeted with a picture of a hissing ‘Jonesy’ (the ship’s cat) printed on the underside of the board. It’s a completely unnecessary but very nice touch!
The cardboard components are of good quality and the gameboard while looking a little cramped, is well-drawn and has some nice references to events that occurred in the movie. The crew protagonists, of which there are 5, each have their own character dashboards with great original artwork. If anything, the Final Objective cards could do with being a little thicker, but it does not detract from their use.
The playing pieces for the game come in the form of character miniatures, one for each of the 5 crew and one for the Alien. Because I have a background in miniature gaming, I never expect much from board game miniatures, but these are actually quite good quality.
All the action is controlled by drawing cards and flipping tokens, so those of you that like ‘rolling the bones’ will be disappointed. The cards used in the game are of standard size and reasonable quality and feature some nice artwork.
So, component-wise, for the price, I am impressed.
Alien: Fate of the Nostromo plays through in about an hour (quicker when you have experience). So, with it being a quick game to play, there is nothing worse than spending a long time setting it up.
Fortunately, this isn’t the case. The instructions detail set up well and it will be out of the box and ready to go within 5 minutes.
You would probably expect a game that has a playtime of under an hour to have a light rulebook, and you would be correct. Rules are well illustrated and easy to grasp. For our first game, we played straight out of the box reading the rules as we went with little problems.
The game is designed for 1-5 players and the first thing to note is that it is 100% cooperative. It’s you (the crew) against the Alien controlled by the card deck. So, if you are looking for a game where you want to crush your opponents, then you will need to look elsewhere.
But this also means it works well as a single-player game. With the A.I. of the deck designed to thwart a team of crew members, it means that you can also play solo, either as one character or controlling the team.
The mechanics are pretty simple but quite slick. It starts with the crew (you!) assembled in the ships’ Mess Hall. Everyone is dealt an objective card and then one extra is dealt. These objectives are revealed and are shared objectives that the crew must complete. When you have completed these objectives, you reveal one of the Final Objective cards. This triggers the cinematic finale.
Most of the standard objectives involve collecting scrap tokens, using these scrap token to make something, and taking it somewhere on the ship. The Final Objective is much more in-depth and ties into a key moment in the film.
Obviously, this would be a lot easier if there wasn’t a hungry Alien stalking the ship. The Alien itself is controlled by flipping a card after each player takes a turn. This will generally see the Alien move at various speeds towards the closest crew member. Oh, and if you think you are safe because the beast is too far away, then think again! The Alien can also appear immediately if you flip certain ‘Exploration Tokens’ when you enter a room!
When you encounter the Alien things start to differ from the movie. Instead of being eaten in a gruesome fashion, your crew member will simply run away. But when this happens the crew will lose morale, and when morale reaches zero the crew lose all hope. Meaning they presumably cower in a corner until the Alien finds and eats them, and the game is lost. This means you win or lose together, there are no characters dying and players sitting out part of the game.
Fortunately, there is a lot of scrap lying around on the Nostromo and you can use this to make items like flashlights and incinerators that will help you against the Alien.
In addition to this, each character has their own unique ability. This not only helps you along the way but also makes each character a different play experience, adding a bit of variety.
Alien: Fate Of The Nostromo – Final Thoughts
Confession time! I love the Alien movie franchise (apart from AvP Requiem!) so I had high expectations, but also had the thematic buy-in that people who haven’t seen the movie would not have. What I’m looking for is a game that has the same tension as the movie. And, in that respect, Ravensburger has succeeded with Alien: Fate of the Nostromo.
It is surprising how often the game comes down to the wire with a card flip determining a key moment. One-minute things can be going great, the next you are being constantly ambushed and have lost most of your morale.
The problem comes with the ‘samey’ tasks of collecting and carrying items to places. This can be forgiven as it thematically fits with certain parts of the movie. The Final Objective cards add a bit of urgency as things reach their climax.
The more you play the more familiar you become with the mechanics, and it does become easier to win. Ravensburger has addressed this with the introduction of Ash, the ship’s android, who you can add to make the game more difficult. This seems like a bit of an afterthought (and Ash does not have a mini, just a cardboard standee). We didn’t find that he added much to the game, but it’s an option.
It's also a very light game, so anyone going in with expectations of a grand epic of incredible complexity will be disappointed. But, being a light game, Alien: Fate of the Nostromo strikes me as something that is very easy to create ‘house rules’ for. Simply tweaking the rules slightly could make for a much more challenging experience. I think crafting a cat carrier and scouring the ship for Jonesy before completing the finale would be quite a thematic challenge!
Overall, for fans of the franchise, new gamers or those looking for a quick, light game to break out I would recommend Alien: Fate of the Nostromo. Count me pleasantly surprised and I certainly have no intentions of blowing it out of the airlock any time soon!
This is Scott, the last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.