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NEWS: Pandora Celeste


Let’s not mess around here: we all love the movie Aliens. I have never in my entire life met a human being who says otherwise. I discovered it at the age of 11 and it took up immediate and permanent residence in a particularly lively section of my brain, and to this day continues to spit out its catchphrases at the most peculiar of times. Drop and smash your Other Half’s favourite cup? Game over, man, game over. Anything in movies, videogames and board games that’s even remotely similar to this classic film, I’m the first one in line.

Allow me to introduce you to Pandora Celeste, a sci-fi horror game that should crank up the tension to sci-fi horror movie levels. Your own ship has suffered a brain-fart and has turned against you. Pretty bad, right? Well, you’re about to find out how bad it can get. There’s something lurking in the air ducts, and that something is hungry…

Pandora Celeste is a fast-paced card-driven board game for 1-6 players that pays gleeful homage to space-survival movies and plays out in around 60-120 mins, depending on the scenario.

Mixing elements of hand-management, push-your-luck and card-driven narrative gameplay, this love-letter to classic Sci-Fi monster movies will have you working with and against your fellow crew members as you struggle with vicious monsters and your own ship's systems in a feverish attempt to survive.

Your every action will create noise, drawing the attention of the spectacularly hungry creatures that hunt you. Distractions can divert the danger… or you could even point the beasts directly at your fellow crewmates. Save your own hide at any cost, right? Yes, everyone on board has trust issues, particularly when each player has their own hidden agenda guiding their actions and influencing their decisions. Vitally, you cannot use an escape pod until you have completed your hidden agenda. Plenty of opportunity for deception and back-stabbing then. Do you work flat out against the other players, or convince someone to play along with you, because they’re not the one you’d stick a knife in, honest…

This game has a neat trick up its sleeve, one that reveals itself upon opening: the box is the game board. There’s a video on their website that demonstrates the game set up, and honestly it’s a bit of an eye opener. The box walls are thick enough so as the unfolded board appears sturdy, although as a minor downside you’ll have to be extra careful with your box - surely you already take good care of your games?

The majority of my games are tough to pack away perfectly - there’s always a bit of a lift to one side of the lid, and some games need reshuffling to get all the cards and parts tucked in. It would be nice to have a game that sets up this swiftly and packs away painlessly. No, it’s not the most important part of a board game, but if the team can put this much thought into this part of the design process then it gives me confidence that Pandora Celeste’s game mechanisms will perform seamlessly.

I want to add something before I end this article, and that something is a word of defence on behalf of Pandora Celeste. I’ve seen a little bit of trolling here and there regarding the game and its similarities to Nemesis, primarily in regards of the Noise mechanic. Firstly, it seems a tad incongruous to take umbrage with Pandora Celeste for utilising a similar game mechanic to a game which has also lifted its entire premise from a certain film we all know and love. Secondly, there’s plenty of room in this world for multiple products on singular themes.

An example: Alien Covenant is the same movie as Prometheus, which is the same movie as Alien (the exact same story beats happen in the exact same order), and all three are directed by Ridley Scott, a world-renowned individual. I’m just saying. Personally, I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on Pandora Celeste, an exciting looking variation on a theme that looks like it has bags of character. It’s got a funky art style of its own, and its bright, punky appearance makes a nice alternative to the usual dour appearance of sci-fi games of this ilk. Perhaps more importantly, the price point is unlikely to reach the stratospheres of similar games - some of us have a budget to monitor - and its table presence and game time don’t look as monstrous as others. Squeeze in an Aliens-like experience into an hour, and hour and a half? Yes please.

Their crowdfunding effort could begin any time soon, so head over to their website, sign up to the newsletter, and give the team some positivity: Pandora Celeste | Guntower Games You’ll also find them on Instagram, give them a follow and a positive comment: Lynn Ibeji (@pandoraceleste_boardgame) • Instagram photos and videos