Aftermath is a co-operative adventure book game for 1-4 players, set in a post apocalyptic world where humans have disappeared. You take control of Meziah, Grumple, Whisper and Ringr. All of which are small animals helping to build up a colony within an abandoned house. Your goal is to go on missions to help collect food and resources. All whilst continuing to expand the colony and accomplish certain goals. Throughout the game, you will uncover clues as to the sudden disappearance of the human race.
The game is played over a series of missions. The book acting as the map. To start, you read the story sections of the mission. The book directs you on how to set up the page, and where to continue to read or what page to turn to. If you play solo, you take control of a minimum of two characters to play. So far, I have played solo controlling two characters. Also with my husband playing the second character.
One of the best things about the game is the story behind it. Therefore, I will not go into too much detail as to avoid spoilers!
For some reason, I had not heard too much about this game. I actually came across it by accident whilst trying to decide if Stuffed Fables (also by Plaid Hat with Jerry as the designer) would be a good fit for me. I had read that this game was like an 'adult version' of Stuffed Fables, with slightly better mechanics, therefore decided to give this one a go first.
I was blown away by the quality of the miniatures in this game. I have a few different games with miniatures, but none that felt as high a quality as these did. The detail in the characters is great, they are quite chunky with a nice weight to them, and they have been glazed with a sort of 'Nuln oil' type effect so that they look pretty good straight out the box, with no real need of a paint job.
To keep track of the campaign there is a campaign dashboard, with cardboard dials to represent the time taken on a mission, the food supply, scrap supply, clues found, population and morale of the colony. Initially I was a little worried that once assembled that this would not stand the test of time, however so far it has held up well and I feel like it will continue to do so throughout. It’s a lovely unique addition.
There are a few decks of cards of nice quality. They come in two different sizes (standard and mini American as per Fantasy Flight sizes for sleeves). I haven't yet felt the need to sleeve any of the cards. Although, the action card deck does get shuffled a fair bit. There's just something about the feel of cards in your hand when they're not sleeved that appeals to me. So, I'm forever battling the preference of card feel with the want to keep my games nice.
There are a few tokens with token stands (I've not had to use these yet however) and a couple of dice which act as modifiers to skill checks. They have chosen to use tokens for a couple of enemy types and figurines for the rest, but I don't feel at any point that this detracts from the game. In fact, I think it was probably a good move as when there are multiple enemies on the book it can become crowded. The use of tokens helps to minimise this.
The book is just over 100 pages thick and has a semi hard cover. The pages are glossy and are ring bound (am I the only one that is a sucker for glossy book pages?!). It feels really good quality. I don't feel that I will need to be worried about tearing pages or it becoming shabby over the course of the campaign.
The artwork throughout the book and on the cards is beautiful, and really captures the feeling of the world the story is building. I absolutely loved one of the missions (trying not to give too much away), where a water bottle token is placed on the book amongst other bottles depicted on the artwork. It all blended seamlessly and was such a simple but effective concept.
On your turn, characters draw action cards from a deck. Then they will use these to perform actions in any order. Such as moving, attacking, searching, equipping items, communicating or encouraging your team mates. When drawing cards, sometimes threat cards are drawn, which are added to the threat track, and represent the level of threat in your location. Enemies, when added into play, are placed onto this threat track, and can perform their turn if they have a threat card behind them.
On each page there are areas of interest that you can visit and read the story entry. This may reveal a bit of information or progress the story in some way. To advance the story your characters need to move to the exit depicted on the page, and the book directs you on how to move to a different location. The book will tell you when you have reached the end of your chosen mission, and you then read the relevant success or failure entry.
Once you are back at the colony after your mission, success or failure, you can build structures and trade goods to improve your colony further. Before you embark on your next mission, you can choose items to fix and bring with you. You will find new items and methods of transport throughout your adventures, and can also add new powers to your character.
This is one of my absolute favourite games I've ever picked up, which came as a huge shock. This is the first adventure book style game I have played, and have been blown away by the quality. The story is very well written. Even quite amusing in places as a lot is written from the viewpoint of the small animals, rather than humans. I cannot comment on the ending though! I have not played this all the way through. However, I don't think my opinion will change at all even if the ending is bad. The journey to get there is just so fantastic.
The little extras such as the colony building step at the end of the mission. The excitement of adding new cards into the game from the discovery box are great additions. They make the game feel constantly different. I do get a feeling of progression as I go through the campaign. Part of me does find this surprising as most missions start on the same two spaces. I don't mind this at all, as each time I know that I can maybe act a little bit more risky as I have a new colony improvement, or I have a new weapon that I want to try out. As the game progresses there are options to fast travel or use a vehicle to reach your destination quicker.
Despite this game being incredibly charming and fun, I do not think it's replayability is huge. Personally, I think I would enjoy playing the story through for a second time, maybe even a third time, however I think a lot of people would not wish to do that. The story will not be much different if at all different on separate playthroughs, from what I've seen so far.
I think this game lends itself well to playing solo. If you don't like to play more than one character at a time, then this isn't the game for you. However, I found it very easy to manage two characters simultaneously. I also think the game has a good pace with one player. You don't need to worry about waiting for someone else to finish reading the excerpt on the page. Despite this, I have also found it very fun playing this 2 player. It's a game where the second player can drop in and out of play whenever they wish. I think the game would work well at all player counts. However, I could imagine at 4 it may get a little frustrating waiting for your turn.
Overall, I cannot recommend Aftermath enough! I am so surprised that it is not mentioned more. If you are in an way interested in a story driven game, or like cute creatures in your games, then this is a definite must have! So far I think I have played about 7 missions. Each game taking between 1-2 hours. I think I'm just shy of halfway. Playtime is somewhat comparable to a typical story driven video game.