Add new comment | Casual Game Revolution

Add new comment

Save Patient Zero

A new disease has been discovered! Players must split into teams, competing to have their lab save patient zero and be the first to find the antidote.

Published by Helvetiq, whose production values we've come to appreciate, Save Patient Zero is currently on Kickstarter. A puzzle deduction game, the challenge comes not in deciding which tools to use but rather in what order to use them in.

Gameplay

One player will be Savvy, the lab computer, while the other players split into two teams. Each team takes a deck of tool cards and a deck of sample cards, as well as a worksheet that shows all the molecules in a grid. Each molecule is numbered one through twenty-five. The Savvy player shuffles the molecule deck and draws three molecules which he keeps to himself. These are the three molecules needed to create an antidote that the other players are trying to discover.

Each round, both teams pick a tool card to play. You can use any card in your deck, but once used the card will be discarded. Whichever team plays their card first, goes first that round. Once both teams have selected a tool, the cards are revealed and resolved with the help of Savvy.

There are a number of types of tool cards and some appear several times in each team’s tool deck. The samply tool allows you to draw three cards from your sample deck. Each sample card shows five different molecules. You hand the cards to Savvy. Savvy then places each card either on the right of your worksheet if at least one of the molecules on the card is part of the antidote, or the left if none of them are. The mikroskopo tool works the same, only instead of drawing cards randomly, your team has one minute to go through your sample deck and choose two cards to pass to Savvy.

The analyzer tool allows you to select three cards that have been previously placed to the right of your worksheet, and Savvy tells you if one, two, or three molecules on each card is present in the antidote. For the dedukto tool, Savvy draws five molecule cards from his deck and passes them to your team. You know that these five molecules cannot be in the antidote.

For the intervallo tool, you choose to have Savvy tell you on your worksheet which line in your molecule grid has the lowest numbered molecule in the antidote or which has the highest numbered molecule.

For the scanpad, your team places a square over six molecules in your grid, and Savvy tells you how many of those six are part of the antidote. The centrofugo has you place a small compass token pointing at four molecules in your grid and you are told if at least one of these is in the antidote. The hackz allows you to copy whatever tool the other team played this round, and the spionado allows you to look at two sample cards placed on the left side of the opposing team's worksheet.

Finally, if you think you have deduced the antidote, you can play one of your two antidote tools and circle three molecules on your worksheet. If all three are right, you win the game. Otherwise Savvy will tell you how many are correct. If you fail with both copies of your antidote tool, you lose the game.

Save Patient Zero components

Review

Save Patient Zero is an absolute treat for fans of deduction games. There’s so much puzzle and logic packed into a thirty or forty-five minute game that it’s quite impressive. All the tool cards are quite useful and you have enough of them that you absolutely will be able to figure out the solution, but since you have to find the antidote before the other team does, the key really lies in how and when you use those tools.

Given how the different tools work, and all the different combinations you can make with the twenty-five molecules, there is a ton of variety here in the game’s puzzle so that the optimal tools to use and the optimal order to use them in is going to change every time you play.

The speed element is interesting as well, with the tool triggering first each round depending on which card is played first. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rush, it does mean there’s a little bit of extra pressure, especially near the end of the game as both teams start to zero in on the solution.

While we did play a prototype of the game, we were impressed by the components, the general aesthetic of the artwork, and how nicely designed the worksheets are for tracking your information. The player screens are also quite large, nicely blocking your sheet from the other team while also giving you a summary of what each tool card does in case you forget. We did wish there was a sand timer included for the miroskopo tool card. While a watch or phone is probably handy, when a game requires a timer it’s nice to have it included.

We also appreciated that you don’t actually need to play with a Savvy player. Each team can draw three molecule cards to act as the cure for the other team and the spionado tool cards are removed. This is a nice workaround, but it does mean you lose the suspense of not knowing exactly how much time you have before the other team solves the puzzle and you’re not restricted by trying to figure out how best to communicate without giving away information. However, the campaign has a stretch goal for a Savvy app, which would be a great addition and really remove the risk of the Savvy player making a mistake and allowing all players to get involved in solving the puzzles. Hopefully that will get unlocked.

Save Patient Zero really does feel like a fresh take on the deduction genre. It does something new and different, while still keeping elements that make deduction games so much fun. Also, while the theme may call to mind recent events, it’s not heavy handed or disrespectful. You are, after all, saving patient zero, so no deaths involved. Check it out on Kickstarter and see if for yourself. We definitely recommend it!

Pros: Great and clever deduction puzzle, excellent components, lots of variety

Cons: No timer included

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 are honest and accurate.