My Top 5 Demos from UKGE

UKGE 2019 Top 5 - The Refuge

Another year, another great UK Games Expo (UKGE)! This year’s convention, as usual, played host to many new games and hotly anticipated releases, giving people a chance to demo them and see what they can offer. I was fortunate enough to try out many new games at this year’s Expo, so I thought I would share my top five from the show!

The Refuge: Terror from the Deep

The Refuge: Terror from the Deep comes from B&B Game Studios, the publisher behind The Refuge: A Race for Survival. Terror from the Deep is a standalone sequel and in this new release, players will find themselves diving into the deep, working either co-operatively or against each other.

The game offers two modes, allowing players to either race frantically to the escape pods, and the clutches of the vicious Kraken that plagues the deep, or you can work together to defeat the great monster! Players will get to choose between six unique divers, all with special skills that will aid them in their adventure, while fighting off this monstrous, mythical sea creature. The game will come with an enormous, highly-detailed 80mm Kraken Head miniature, along with the tentacles that take up spaces on the board and signify the threats the divers will face.

I managed to demo the game at UKGE, playing the co-operative variant of Terror from the Deep. In this mode, you must work with your fellow divers to complete objectives set out by a deck of cards. The three objectives that you must complete also add to the story behind the game, providing players with backstory and upholding the theme throughout the game. On a player's turn, you can move your character around the board, activating the space that you land on. The different spaces allow you to undertake different actions, such as destroying a Kraken tentacle to moving to a cave space anywhere on the board.

Once you have made your move, you then have the option to play a card from your hand of items, and then to use one of your diver's abilities. If a diver has been struck and needs to be recovered, you can then discard two matching salvage cards to recover the diver. Once these turns have been taken, it is then the Kraken’s turn to cause some mayhem. The Kraken is controlled by a simple, yet intuitive AI deck that moves the Kraken's head along the back of the board, while also moving and spawning the tentacles across the board.

This game has been designed incredibly well, remaining fairly lightweight but providing a fantastic play experience. I am really looking forward to trying this game out more! If any of you are interested, you can find more information on the game's Kickstarter page.

Lifeform

Lifeform was actually discussed at UKGE 2018. Shut Up Sit Down referenced the game during their live podcast. Lifeform, from Hall or Nothing Productions and created by Mark Chaplin, takes place on the Valley Forge, a mining vessel that has unfortunately been invaded by a relentless, utterly hostile alien.

One player takes on the role of this unstoppable alien, while the other players will take control of the ship's defenceless crew. The crew are tasked with collecting resources, such as coolant, weapons and space suits, and head towards the shuttle, to escape this ship of horrors.

Of course, the alien stands in their way, moving about the ship, attacking members of the crew to try and stop them escaping. Unfortunately for the crew, their sensors aren’t as accurate as they would like, meaning they have to guess, out of two positions, which sensor dot is the real alien, with the alien player using this to their advantage to try and bluff their way to victory.

As one would expect, this game is heavily influenced by the film, Alien, and being such a big fan of the film, this game is right up my street. Mark Chaplin has done a fantastic job of creating and building a game that not only plays well, but builds suspense and one that left me on the edge of my seat! The theme and artwork is wonderful and I cannot wait to get my hands on this game!

Lifeform was funded on Kickstarter last year, however the copies are set to land in Europe at the end of this month! You can pre-order the game on our website now and if you are a sci-fi fan, this is definitely a game you don’t want to miss!

Escape the Dark Sector

Themeborne have just released their third Kickstarter campaign, Escape the Dark Sector! Thankfully, they had a few prototypes of the game at the Expo so I managed to demo this thematic game and see what it had to offer! Escape the Dark Sector takes the Escape the Dark series into the sci-fi realm, inspired by films and TV such as Alien, Star Trek and Star Wars.

Players will find themselves aboard a space station, confined to the detention block, after having their starship impounded. You and your team decide to attempt a desperate escape, trying to locate your ship and blast off from the space station. You will need your wits about you though as you will face many dangers as a team, from guards to aliens, all desperate to stop you in your tracks and foil your plan!

What I love about the Escape the Dark games is their simplicity. It takes just minutes to understand the rules of the game, and you will be playing in no time! The game relies on chapter cards to drive the story and give players decisions to make that will either further their journey, or spell their doom! The mission deck will change game after game, since the chapter cards are shuffled and drawn randomly to form the deck. There will also be a boss card at the bottom of the deck, meaning you will have one final challenge before your escape! Players will then select characters and take their custom dice, unique to each character, and then you’re ready to begin your adventure! It really is as simple as that.

One nice addition to this game is the introduction of ranged combat. You will be able to attack enemies from range, while also being able to strategise and move as a team to different locations to attempt to defeat their various enemies you will come across. This is just adding more depth and more value to the game and I cannot wait to play this some more when it is released next year! Thomas Pike, the creator, has said that this game will also put the difficulty level up just that little bit more, and I noticed that when I played it. The extra depth makes the game a little bit heavier in comparison to Escape the Dark Castle, but in a really good way! The Kickstarter campaign is live now and also look out a preview in the coming months!

Quantified

From publishers Quality Beast, comes a very unique game, and one that I had a lot of fun demoing at this year’s Expo. This co-operative board game is set in a world much like that of George Orwell’s Dystopian novel 1984, where everyone is under strict surveillance and each of their actions are analysed. All players will take on the role of civilian living within this world, each with a social credit score, which in turn dictates their social standing and their position on the social ladder. You could start as an employed individual with a stable job and a family, with access to all your basic human rights, or you could be refugee, with little to no social credit score and no access to even the basic human rights.

During the game, players are able to move around the city, adding people to their network, avoiding threats that face them, avoiding things such as correction camps or totalitarian laws and deciding whether to work a legal or illegal job. All of these choices progress your character and unlock new actions that you can take. If you have a low social credit, you will find that your right to movement is withdrawn, meaning it takes you much longer as a player to make your way across the city.

Any action you take exposes some of your personal data so everyone must be careful with which actions they take. Whether you climb the social ladder, or gather enough support by using rally cards, the aim is to obtain the four human rights available in the game. If you manage to do this, you win the game, however, if you allow three totalitarian laws to come into effect, you lose the game!

This is such a unique theme and game and one that I have been intrigued about for a while! I was excited to try it out and it was quite scary seeing the outcomes of some decisions made, as they almost reflected our real, day-to-day lives! I look forward to the release of this, with a Kickstarter looking at starting next year in 2020.

UKGE 2019 - Quantified (Credit: Quality Beast)

Letter Jam

I love a good word game and Czech Games Edition are appealing to this by releasing Letter Jam, a co-operative game where players must assist each other in creating meaningful words from the letters scattered around a table. At the start of a game, each player will receive a set of face-down cards, each with a letter on, with players taking a card each and placing it on their stand, without looking at it themselves but making it visible to all the other players.

Turn by turn, players will look at all the letters available to them and see which words they can spell from them, announcing the number of letters in the word if they can form a word from them. The player who can find the longest word is then chosen as the clue giver, whose job is to spell out their clue by using numbered tokens in front of players. Each number corresponds to the location of each letter in the word. It is then over to the other players to try and guess what letter they have in front of them. If they correctly guess their letter, they can then place the card face down in front of them, before revealing their next letter. Players will try and form a word from these letters and the more words that have been created once the game ends, the bigger the success of the team!

This, I feel, is going to be a fantastic party game and one that I believe will have much the same success of Codenames! I loved playing this and had so much fun trying it out!

A Great UKGE

All in all, this year’s UKGE is one that I will definitely remember! There were so many great games being demoed and revealed, and I feel like I only touched the surface when it came to new game releases! Look out for my previews of both Lifeform and The Refuge as I look at both games in more depth!