Guest Blog Post by Jack @ThePnutbean
Remember the hype? The real genuine hype, not this meme hype of today. Hype like people buying Zone of the Enders mainly for the Metal Gear Solid 2 Demo? The hype around Tomb Raider and how channel 4 did a show during the release of ‘Last Revelation’ of Lara’s history? Remember that hype?
The cynicism behind todays marketing feels more like Stockholm syndrome than real, honest hype. As the hundreds of suites with a default face pound on my door, telling me “You like this game, buy this game, you like it”. Or maybe it is I, who is cynical, looking for something to connect me to my past, to simpler times, to fell once more.
One game always stood out during those times, a game every magazine publication could not stop talking about well after its release. That game was Resident Evil 2. A game today still loved by many.
Naturally, in today’s climate, such a classic cannot remain in its original form, and a remake was inevitable.
Most people will already know of the Capcom Resident Evil 2 Remake that garnered critical and commercial success.
But there was a second remake some gamers may not know about, more akin to the classic- SteamForge’s Resident Evil 2 The Board Game.
Upon opening the box, you are greeted with ‘This game contains scenes of explicit violence and gore’, the exact frame from the original Resident Evil 2; a fine detail any fan would admire.
Inside the box you will find over 20 tile pieces designed with Racoon city and Police Department. Over 30 pieces to create the terrain elements such as walls, stairwells, doors, corpses, typewriter and item box. 30 sustained effects and gameplay tokens such as item tokens and wound tokens. Then miscellaneous tokens such as the weapon dials to count your ammo, boss health dial, health/poison condition marker, ink ribbons, side pack, and your health tracker.
After the tiles, you will find various cards, 50 item cards (item deck A and item deck B) with explanation of items use- like handgun ammo giving you 8 bullets.
Weapon cards display more information- such as the weapons range, how many and/or what attack dice are needed.
Each character has a specific character card that indicate what weapons they can use along with a evade counter (number of evade dice the player uses), and how many items they can carry. The card also displays the characters special ability, a once a turn or round ability to aid the team’s survival. But mindful, enemies have their own reference card with special traits too.
Last set of cards is the tension deck, a card where after each player turn that alter the game world; some cards do nothing, others spawn enemies or other various effects that can foil your plan. Later scenarios will see you replenishing the cards with ink ribbons and typewriters, otherwise it’s game over.
And what is a boardgame without dice?
Resident Evil 2 has 5 attack dice- 3 blue dice for standard weapons and power weapons use 2 red dice. If that is not enough, when a player enters a new room you must also roll the encounter dice; maybe you’ll roll and its safe, or maybe you’ll roll and spawn a licker.
You like miniatures? Of course, you do, you dweeb. How about 4 playable characters, 12 zombies (with 3 variants), 2 lickers, 4 zombie dogs, a G-mutant, and a Birkin stage 3; all highly detailed, ready for you to paint them up like a quarantined Henry Cavill.
I know what you are thinking, ‘Jack, that is a hell of a lot of pieces’, and you are correct. The game is extremely bitty and for someone who is not akin to this style of boardgame, could seem overwhelming. However, don’t let this clutter discourage you, at the heart of Resident Evil 2, is a remarkably simple dungeon crawler.
A 1-4 player cooperative game tasks the team to complete and end in a certain area to complete objectives- occasionally scenarios will feature priority items that must be collected.
Each scenario has two points player 1 or player 2 to start; if you have more than 2 players, they will team up with either and/or both.
The 4 character to choose from are Leon, Claire, Ada and “oh, sorry about that, I thought you was one of them” Kendo.
Each player has 4 actions determined by the following: move (one square= one action), opening and closing a door (both take an action each), pick up or use item, trade and attack.
Attacks are performed by using the attack dice. What weapon you choose to attack with will display what and how many dice you use, followed by the affects. Example, the handgun uses one blue dice and uses one bullet. If you roll one bullet hole mark symbol; you push an enemy back one square. If you get the two-bullet hole symbol, that does one damage. Though some weapons have special affects too, like the handguns rapid fire ability will allow you to roll 3 dice using 3 bullets so you have better odd.
The game’s handy ammo wheel tracker makes keeping track of how many bullets you have used effortless and every weapon in the game has their own wheel for further ease.
After the action phase you have the reaction phase, were enemies within the same tile will move towards you. Though, leaving a door open means the tiles are linked, causing enemies on linked tiles to move towards you too. What an enemy can move is displayed on the enemy reference card, along with their health and damage they deal, plus any special traits- such as the Licker Scuttler move, allowing Lickers to react to movement in a players action phase.
If an enemy makes a basic attack, the player gets to make an evade roll. The same blue dice to attack are used for evading, however you must get the evade symbols. There are 3 different evade symbols that correspond with the size of enemy and if the evade is successful they push the enemy back. A zombie is a small enemy, any evade symbol is fine; yet a larger foe like a Licker, will need the evade second evade symbol or above. If the evade symbol is unsuccessful then the player takes damage and the enemy remains.
There are out-of-sequence reactions enemies make too, like making an attack will allow any other enemy within that or linked tile (besides the one you have attacked) move one space. Or if an enemy is in the same square, and the player is making an action other than attack- before the action is resolved the highest threat enemy will make a basic attack which the player must successfully evade; If that evade roll is unsuccessful the player suffers the effects of that attack, pushes enemy back, and the action is not resolved, yet still counts as a player action.
It’s after the reaction phase, a player picks up the Tension Phase.
Resident Evil 2 The Board Game manages to capture the spirit of the game extremely well. Rolling the encounter dice when stepping into a new room feels like playing the video game; waiting for the door animation to finish and finding what terror awaits.
The inclusion of ink ribbons and typewriters being a mechanic to replenish the tension deck really adds a level of urgency and strategy; like the video game before it, how you move is just important as where you move.
Knowing the original RPD building very well, looking at the scenario map SteamForge have done a tremendous job of recreating it. Though some sections cannot be recreated like-for-like, you’ll see the map and go ‘oh that’s there’ or ‘they have put that item in that room like the game’. A detail that not all will realise, though the fact they put that effort in goes to show they did not take this opportunity for granted.
It’s just a shame the game fails in the tile design. The tiles are extremely dark and hard to see what is displayed on them. The same is said of the door tiles too, especially the wooden doors; you can barely see if they are open or closed. There are plastic doors you can buy but at an unreasonable price, it feels like paying for a patch.
A lot of the time with the game will be setting. Ideally, you need people chipping in when setting up because there is just so many pieces and bits.
A shout out goes to the miniature design, well executed, with enemy variation giving it a little change and the detail, WOW. These miniatures look incredible, the rip clothes, the bits of ribs sticking out or the texture of a mutation- they just look outstanding.
The base game provides you with 8 scenarios with a play time of anywhere between 45 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes. A lot of content with the base game only, around £80, you do get your money’s worth. If you want to add on, you can, with the ton of expansions with a scenario B, Hunk… A lot of expansions just check them out.
I love how the game drip feeds the mechanics; allowing you to understand the games basic rules in the first few scenarios, then expanding in more in each scenario so it doesn’t become overwhelming.
As the game takes a little bit of that legacy style of board gaming, you will need a dedicated group to keep playing with you.
Resident Evil 2 the Board game is a good, solid and enjoyable dungeon crawler. Yes, it has its flaws, but mechanically the game is sound; it all works, and it all feels very Resi. The risk and reward, the character movement, the character placement, the encounter dice; SteamForge have translated the video game to board feels effortless; creating a new experience that feels familiar. Not only that, it’s just a lot of fun, rolling dice, killing zombies, working as a team, your plan being fumbled due to picking up a bad tension card; the game has enough challenge to not be boring but light enough to have fun… Just like the game. Board game fans will know this is a basic dungeon crawler but will have fun. Fans of the video game will like that translation to board.
If you’ve dabbled in board gaming, this is a great game because it’s simple and it drip feeds. If you don’t play board gaming but you like the video games and interested, I recommend picking it too; it’s a good level for new comers… just mind the bits. For me, this is the best Resident Evil 2 Remake.
Guest Blog Post by Jack @ThePnutbean
Retro Game Reviews. Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast and more
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