Game Over: A Kickstarter Preview

Game Over

There are a ton of video gamers out there of all different levels. A TON. Which is why it is always nice to have a game that helps draw them in to the wonderful world of tabletop gaming. Game Over is a new video game themed card game by upstart publisher Pointless Hobby that is now seeking your support on Kickstarter. We recently had the opportunity to evaluate a prototype of the game to form our own opinions of it. But first, the gameplay!

Gameplay

Game Over is a battle card game for 2 to 6 players in which each player selects 3 different video game characters to use on his team. The characters are reminiscent of actual video games, but are different enough so as to not infringe on any copyrights. Thus, characters like the Mario Brothers and Duke Nukem are replaced by the O'Sullivan Sisters and Brute Blastem. There are 18 different characters to choose from, of 3 different colors. Throughout the game, players equip these characters with various weapons to attack all of the other characters.

Game Over components

There are 3 different ways to win the game: 1) eliminate all other players by destroying their characters; 2) accumulate 25 or more bonus points by collecting gems; 3) collect all 3 enchanted golden items. When a player achieves any of these goals, the game ends immediately and he wins.

After players have chosen their characters, the remaining game cards are spread out face down in a large pile. Space is reserved for a loot pile and a discard pile. On a turn, a player draws any card from the pile and adds it to his hand. He may then choose one (and only one) of the following actions:

  1. Run - do nothing and pass your turn to the next player.
  2. Equip - equip, unequip, or rearrange any number of weapons on your character cards. Only cards labeled with an 'e' icon are equippable.
  3. Attack - attack another player's character with a weapon that is already equipped. This card is then removed from play and added to the loot pile. It is also possible to attack with an unequippable ('u') card from your hand instead. If a character is hit, it is removed from the game. If he was equipped with a weapon, the weapon is moved to the loot pile and the character remains in play. Some attack cards are hit/miss cards, which require the defender to draw a card from the deck to determine the outcome of the attack.
  4. Special - perform a special ability as specified on a card. For equippable cards, a special ability can be used if it is equipped by the character of the same color. For unequippable cards, a special ability can only be used if the character of the same color is still in play.
  5. Redeem - redeem gems for bonuses. There are several colors of gems that are worth a certain number of points, which will win the game if they total 25 points. However, sets of 3 gems can be traded in (redeemed) for certain bonuses like bringing a character back to life or looting a card from the loot pile.
  6. Use - discard any other unequippable action card and carry out the action contained on the card.

There are many different weapons, special abilities, attack and defense cards, and action cards that are all detailed in the rulebook. But not all cards will help you — there are some nasty little cards included in the deck to take away points, take the life of your characters, etc. Many negative cards are played immediately after they are drawn instead of ending up in your hand.

Gameplay continues until one of the 3 endgame scenarios mentioned above occurs.

Game Over components

Review

Game Over has an endearing visual design that is colorful and inviting. It draws you in and makes you want to play, which is great for new players who don't play many tabletop games. There are many references to popular video games and video game culture, in the characters as well as the weapons and actions. This is a fun and enticing aspect of the game for anyone who is familiar with it.

Gameplay itself is quite chaotic, and is intended to be. Players will tend to launch all kinds of attacks at each other, all the while drawing many different action cards and abilities to spice things up. For players who are less confrontational, there are many other things to do other than attack, such as play defense cards and try to gather gems or enchanted items. Plus, most cards offer multiple uses, offering many trade-offs throughout the game. In this way, many different styles of players can find something to enjoy.

We found the learning curve to be much steeper than originally anticipated for what seems like a very luck-based casual game of drawing and playing a card. There are lots of things going on, including specific details and contingencies, that require some patience to learn. We found ourselves referring back to the rules many times for rule clarifications and card explanations. For us, this was a turn-off for this particular game — we felt that too much random complexity was included and that perhaps 25% of the game could be whittled away for an improved result. However, gamers who crave more complexity may find the details to be a welcome feature. In its current state, it feels like a game that already includes 1 to 2 expansions.

The artwork and component quality is quite good, especially for an unpublished prototype. However, we did feel that additional player aids could be added to the cards to assist with gameplay, such as better indications of card types or special icons for cards that should be played immediately. This would reduce the need to refer back to the rulebook, making the game feel a little smoother. Also, the mix of regular artwork and 8-bit style artwork seems a little strange. I would prefer choosing one style and sticking with it.

One thing that seems unique about this game is the fact that cards are scattered into a large pile instead of a single stack of cards. This makes the game recognizable and might help pique the curiosity of passers-by. The ability to choose any card, rather than just the top of the stack, offers a choice to players that makes a difference in the game. It's an unimportant choice that can't have any strategic purpose, but it is a choice nonetheless, and one that can offer small rewards or regrets. Alternatively, if there were only a single stack, players might find themselves cursing at the draw pile if the top card is a bad one — with a scattered pile, they can blame themselves to some extent for picking the wrong card.

Final Word

Game Over is a bright and colorful game that has potential to draw in new players who are familiar with video game culture. However, the amount of complexity may also be a turn-off to some. As a simpler, more streamlined and user-friendly game, it really could shine as a long-time favorite for casual gamers.

Game Over is now seeking your support on Kickstarter. Check it out if you like what you see!

Pros: Colorful and inviting visuals, whimsical video game theme, incorporates many styles of play for different types of players

Cons: Overly complex and detailed for the type of game that it is, some streamlining and additional player helps are needed

UPDATE: The publisher has informed us that several improvements will be included in the final version, including player reference cards, more user-friendly card icons for different types of cards, and tweaks to the instructions.

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here as honest and accurate as possible.