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Game Reviews

This is where I put games I've reviewed, and the ratings I gave them.

I also provide links from which to procure most of the things I've reviewed.


Video Games


Tabletop Games

Ok, here's some quick stuff about how and why I review these games; I'm a featured reviewer at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, a digital and print-on-demand publishing solution for tabletop games (they also have branches for wargames and novels, though I'm not very familiar with them). As such, I get a lot of games, and I try to review them left and right. I used to write under a pseudonym, so if you don't see a review on-site with my name, it'd be under "Erathoniel Woodenbow". I do not exclusively review stuff from their site, however, and I will occasionally throw in something I've read either from a second-hand store or from online (i.e. 1km1kt.net).

I also update this area with reviews (both that I've done in the past, and as I write), and sales at RPGNow for those who may be interested.

In addition, if you comment and suggest stuff for me to look up, you may be eligible to win special prizes!

Announcements

May's DriveThruRPG sale:

20% off all of the following with the coupon code "DriveThruApril"


I'm not terribly familiar with any of these products on their own, but I can say that I know both Crafty Games and Dream Pod 9 to make some high-quality games, so if you're feeling like saving 20% go on over and check it out.

Fantasy

Azamar

Azamar is an awesome fantasy setting. It's just plain grand on all levels-it takes a tried and true genre, spruces it up with new and innovative stuff, then combines it with a tried and true system, mixing it up enough to keep things interesting but still sticking to the important core tenets.

Basically, this is a fantasy game done well; nothing's terribly obtuse, everything's quick, there's detail, good art, typesetting, and more!

Azamar is an interesting game because of the conventions of the fantasy genre it observes and those it doesn't, and it has a very complex and well thought out world, and while it may be one of many in a popular genre it manages to have a distinct feel of its own. It's a little bit grim but doesn't revel in it like some games would, so it falls in an interesting space in terms of feel and the setting combines traditional conventions with some notable tweaks (though these are not always that far off from conventions).

Quick Summary:
Content: 5/5 (Covers the setting and players well, there's a lot of good stuff here, and it's rather original and deep)
Art/Typesetting: 5/5 (No complaints and very uniform, nothing to complain about)
Writing: 4,5/5 (Not always the clearest or smoothest, but well-done nonetheless)
Awesome Factor: 4.5/5 (It's a fantasy setting; it may be a bit creative, but there's still a lot of those)
Interest: 4/5 (Fun, but loses some points just due to the massive amount of similar stuff)
Maturity: 12+ (No real complaints, touches on racism and war [not losing points for it])
Value: 5/5 ($5 is truly a steal for a fully featured game like this, especially given its production values)

The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild

The One Ring lives up to its impressive source works; providing an epic amount of quality and more in a game that is built to work with the feel of Middle Earth.

Everything about this game feels right; the art, the writing, and the mechanics blend together into a marvelous product that feels very much like the original books by Tolkien. The game takes very few liberties with the setting, and feels very much like picking up one of the original stories in terms of how play and characters work; I personally saw a major relationship between The Children of Húrin and this work, at least in terms of how the adventuring bands work, though the same link goes for any of Tolkien's tales.

Anyway, I will say that this is one of the best fantasy games out there, and as a fan of Tolkien I'd throw my support behind it 100% as a top-notch and accurate game which sticks true to the feel of Tolkien's work.

The closest thing to a gripe I have with this is the gimmicky Feat Die, which has a potential to roll a Gandalf or Sauron rune, but it makes the game flow quicker and adds interest, so I'll concede that it's actually good (especially given that you can use a standard d12 and just modify the results slightly).

Quick Summary:
Content: 5/5 (A great look at Tolkien's world and making adventures within it; it's built well)
Art/Typesetting: 5/5 (I'd say that this is one of the highest quality games I've ever seen in terms of design)
Writing: 5/5 (I've never had a gripe with Cubicle 7's quality, so I see no reason to start now)
Awesome Factor: 5/5 (I'm biased because I'm a Tolkien fanboy, but this gets it right!)
Interest: 4/5 (Not perhaps the most interesting part of Tolkien's sagas, but a good one)
Maturity: 10+ (There's not really anything in here I see that warrants a content rating, other than heroic violence)
Value: 5/5 (You get a lot in this pack; the Loremaster's and Adventurer's Guides, and two maps [one for each], so the asking price is great)

Modern

Post-Apocalyptic

Outbreak: Undead

So. Much. Awesome.

Outbreak: Undead is the best zombie tabletop RPG out there, and I can say that without a fear of having to eat my own words. There are other zombie games out there, and indeed other excellent zombie games out there, but none come as close to total perfection and accuracy as Outbreak: Undead.

Opting for a full simulation of a zombie outbreak, this game includes rules for playing yourself or a readily made character, as well as lots of things that could be found over the course of a zombie outbreak, including lots of info about the types and numbers of zombies you may encounter.

I'm really at a loss here. I could go on praising Outbreak: Undead for hours, but the words to describe just how awesome it is escape me. For $20, this will be the best zombie game you could buy.

(Note: This review was done before my rating system was in place; Outbreak: Wild Kingdom's ratings are pretty accurate for here)
Outbreak: Undead also has a "Free Content Friday" that gives a new little add-on for GM's to use very week, increasing its value score from 4/5 to 5/5

Quick Start Guide (Free!)

Supplements:

Outbreak: Wild Kingdom

Outbreak: Undead is in my opinion the best zombie game available, and Outbreak: Wild Kingdom is a suitably high-quality supplement for it.

Quite frankly, if you're going to do any real wilderness focus in your game, this is a great add-on. While not every campaign goes into the wilderness, there are even more city-applicable features like statistics for dogs, birds, and vermin swarms that would still be in play in a urban environment.

The Fair King Zoo scenario is both very interesting but also a little gory for my squeamish taste (it is a zombie game, after all). I'm not as easily scared as I used to be, so it didn't bother me terribly much, but it's not the sort of thing I'd run with just anyone (just like any zombie campaign). This should not be interpreted as a bad thing, however, given the setting and goal.

I cannot come up with anything bad about this book; some people may not care for the style, but I find the style to be incredibly cool (maybe on account of my nerdiness), and there's nothing I can gripe about.

My one warning to people would be that this is a zombie game, so not everyone will appreciate the art and content (it is rather gory), and it's not for children or the excessively squeamish.

For those wanting a quick summary:
Content: 4/5 (It has a lot, but it's very specific; if you are going into the wilderness specifically it'd be 5/5)
Art/Typesetting: 5/5 (It made my graphic design nerd happy inside)
Writing: 4/5 (Some typos detract from otherwise excellent writing, some places could be re-written)
Awesome Factor: 5/5 (ZOMBIES! Wilderness survival! Animals!)
Interest: 5/5 (Well thought out and deeper than just stating facts)
Maturity: 16+ (Clean language and sexual content, but violent and potentially disturbing)
Value: 4/5 (It's not the longest supplement around for $13, but it makes up for it with quality)

Science Fiction

Post-Apocalyptic

Degenesis

Review Criterion

My reviews are appended with a short blurb that details a number of things about the product:

Content: This is basically my way of saying whether the product is satisfying-as a general rule, a very short product or one that ends in a cliffhanger would receive a low rating, while a longer one with a complete plot would receive a higher rating.
Graphics (video games) Art/Typesetting (tabletop games): Basically how pretty a game is. Measures style as well as the quality, and is based around the end-user experience rather than the technical prowess of the media.
Writing: For video games, this is how I talk about the plot. For tabletop games, I use this rating to describe how well the fluff and mechanics work.
Awesome Factor: Awesome Factor is a rating given based on whether or not the product made me giggle with delight. If the product's cool, this will be high, if it's uninspiring and unoriginal this will be pretty low.
Interest: This is how I evaluate the general depth of content; this is like Awesome Factor for thinking and engagement; if the product draws me in and makes me immersed the Interest score will be higher.
Maturity: This is where I give an estimated appropriate age for the content based on a number of criteria. Some products will be denied a Maturity rating if I feel their content is too objectionable.
Value: This is basically where I say if I think the product's over-priced. I'm usually pretty generous with this, looking at the relative portion of time relative to say, a movie, so if the product is at all entertaining and will do so for roughly $3.50/hour give or take I give it a good rating, while if it's boring or short it will get a bad rating.

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