GAME STORIES (PART 6)
In this continuing series, I am detailing and reviewing the various stories presented in many of the board games on the market. Turns out, most aren’t particularly good, but there are a few exceptions…
MICE & MYSTICS
Another storybook game similar to Comanauts, Mice & Mystics (as well as its later cousin, Stuffed Fables) is geared towards kids. At least the story is; the game is personally way too difficult to be meant for that demographic. The story is adorable, involving warriors and wizards still loyal to the king that are turned by the evil Vanestra into field mice! Now these diminutive heroes must race through a castle now twenty times larger than before. Not only has Vanestra converted her minions into rodents to assure our heroes don’t escape to help their king, but given their size, there are now countless other terrors to impede the adventure. Players can assume the role of Prince Collin, Nez Bellows (the burly smith), the wizened old Maginos, or the former healer Tilda.
Mice & Mystics has a story so endearing that there has been considerable effort to convert it to an actual animated movie, and if they can make a $200-million disaster like Battleship, this should be a slam dunk. Unlike Comanauts, Mice & Mystics does not randomize elements, preferring to tell a story in a more traditional fashion with connected sessions weaving a larger table. It’s a formula the game designers would perfect later with Stuffed Fables.
Story Quality: 8/10
I mentioned in my review of Nemesis that the accusation that it is merely an Alien/s rip-off is underserved. It’s a rip-off of Pandorum, actually, but ignoring that, Nemesis is only part of a broad genre of horror science fiction, a genre Alien didn’t even define, let along dominate, and the constant allegations of plagiarism only sets back the category as a whole.
The story of Nemesis can be told competitively or cooperatively, but with the later, you can play with the 4-scenario Untold Stories campaign. In it, the crew of the spaceship Ariadne comes across the hulk of the Nemesis, and a series of unfortunate events follow that force the crew to abandon their home and take refuge within the frightening dilapidated corridors of the ill-fated vessel, all the while under pursuit by mercenaries attempting to steal the ship for themselves due to its hostile alien life-form also stranded on board. The characters are forced to not only check the status of the ship’s various systems but also plot a course to freedom while fighting the aforementioned hostile aliens. Alas, the ending of Untold Stories is hugely disappointing, and the characters present are incredibly hollow with no motivation whatsoever. Pandorum is undoubtedly better.
Story Quality: 5/10
This certainly hits close to home now, doesn’t it? While the characters lack names, they do possess skills, making them distinct. In a world where four (or five) viral outbreaks all suddenly explode out of control, it falls to the CDC in Atlanta to keep the world safe. It’s depressing that the unrealistic aspect of the game is the absolute trust America would instill in such an organization rather than the prospect of four pandemics spreading at once.
There is a minuscule amount of story in Pandemic outside of this, but the crisis itself is all that one requires. This lack of plot is handled with the larger campaign driven Pandemic Legacy.
In that title, The CDC is initially tasked with the curing of the four diseases in the base game. However, one of these diseases, codenamed C0DA, mutates to make a cure initially impossible. The characters partner with a paramilitary organization while C0DA mutates to make victims…well…zombies, the kind not unlike those found in 28-Days later. The members of the CDC must seek out other experts while simultaneously uncovering a global conspiracy that could doom humanity. Now that’s…the plot of most viral-zombie films out there, though with an emphasis on the scientists fighting the plague than the civilians on the ground floor tasked with surviving. Regardless of the status of the virus or the world by the end of the game, the sequel, Season 2, picks up seventy years later, effectively assuming a grim prognosis. It is now a post-apocalyptic world with survivors eking out a living upon havens floating upon the ocean. Yeah, that does sound like the plot of a Resident Evil knock-off, and…you know, if that’s what you’re looking for, go for it. It’s not bad. Hell, just writing about legacy’s story makes me want to play it (I haven’t).
Story Quality: 6/10