The 7th Guest Board Game Live on Kickstarter 2017!
In early April, 2017 on Kickstarter, Trilobyte announced that they would be raising funds for a board game adaptation of The 7th Guest. Trilobyte is the developer who originally published The 7th Guest and its sequel, The 11th Hour.
The 7th Guest is a notable entry in video game history for a number of reasons. It was one of the first computer video games to be released exclusively on CDROM, eschewing the older formats such as 3 1/2 and 5 1/4 floppy discs. This is in part due to the extensive amount of live action video clips played throughout the game as well as pre-rendered 3D graphics as well. The 7th Guest is also notable on the technological side. Given that FMV (you can hate full motion video all you want gamers, I still has a special spot in my heart) was a revolutionary technology at the time, and fully loaded CDROM games were all but unheard of, Trilobyte and The 7th Hour were on the cutting edge of early 1990s PC Gaming. They were inventing the technology along with the game, and The 7th Guest's success, in part, led to the increase in CDROM Drives, and its resultant technology, in consumer's home computers.
(MURDER IN THE THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRD DIMEEEEEEEEEEEEENSION!!!!)
Meanwhile, on the gaming side of things, The 7th Guest is a horror game in which you, 'Ego' (an amnesiac), find yourself in a mansion in which the main antagonist, Henry Stauf, challenges you throughout your exploration of the rooms and floors of the mansion to a series of logic and brain puzzles. Additionally, humor and horror were mixed as 'Ego' was taunted by Stauf throughout the game as well as throughout the unveiling of the plot which is told through a series of flashbacks of six characters connected to the mansion, such as Martine Burden (a singer), Hamilton Temple (a magician), Julia Heine (a banker), and more. As Ego works through the puzzles, more and more of the story about these six guests is revealed to Ego and he must figure out who he is, who The 7th Guest was, and what Henry Stauf wants with him.
(Murder [figuratively] in the third dimension [literally])
The 7th Guest Board Game, as is described on the Kickstarter page, seems quite similar to its digital counterpart; players explore the mansion, solve puzzles, make it to the Little Room at the Top, and get your heart's most secret desire. (FYI: Mine's a Mrs. Pacman cocktail cabinet.)
(Hey guuuuurl, lets get some drinks sometime.)
The 7th Guest Board Game does have some positive indications from the Kickstarter page. First and foremost, it is being developed by Trilobyte, who developed The 7th Guest and its sequel The 11th Hour, amongst others. Additionally, Rob Landeros is developing the board game and was the co-founder of Trilobyte and its library of games.
(Shhhhhhh....you didn't see TLC here...)
In addition to players exploring the mansion and solving puzzles, Stauf is present here as well and, should you be so unfortunate to encounter him, you may face a diabolical puzzle to solve, or be forced to another room in the mansion or see extra challenges placed between you and your heart's most secret desire....
(Why ain't Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and
Clyde Sue in The 7th Guest, Landeros?)
When the game starts, players pick from the six available characters (which are the six guests from the computer game) and take the matching stack of destination cards. Depending on how long you want to play, you discard a set number of destination cards. This deck determines, in part, the movement of your character throughout the mansion. Guided by the Destination deck, you must solve puzzles and overcome challenges as you try to work your way through this deck.
The Mystery Spell deck is the other main card component in the game. This dictates, in part, what Henry Stauf can do to the player, as well as some additional actions. Further, if a player draws the ghost card, (s)he becomes the 'Lady in White' and cannot continue their progress throughout the game until they are unghosted.
This game supports a surprising variety of player counts, with rules supporting solo play, or up to six players simultaneously working their way through the mansion. The game is semi-competitive, but seems more solo-competitive in that it seems by and large each player is doing what (s)he needs to do to complete their Destination deck. However, player interaction is introduced through the Mystery Spell deck and, in the event a player cannot solve the puzzle they have been given when they get to their indicated destination, other players have a chance to steal by solving the puzzle and advancing their own cause.
Speaking of puzzles, the base game comes with 300 Puzzler cards, each with a unique puzzle to solve by the player. Sorta. The Kickstarter states, "These puzzlers range from logic puzzles, to riddles, cryptic clues, spacial problems, rebuses, and trivia." So, while I do think that the logic problems and spacial problems will be of the caliber seen in The 7th Guest video game (and hopefully not directly copied from the video game), the fact that the word 'trivia' is included in there makes me think that puzzles similar to those seen in the actual video game will be, sadly, in the minimum.
Also, while having 300 Puzzler cards may seem like it will add longevity to the game, if you do the math on that, it reveals that you may have very few playthroughs before seeing repeat cards. Lets say you do the basic game in which each player has five destination cards, and you have four players. That is, minimally, 20 cards per game. This translates to, roughly, 15 plays.
But if you play the game on hard (where each player has all 18 of their destination cards) and you have the maximum player count (6), you will go through (again, minimally) 108 cards. This gives you 3 plays of The 7th Guest Board Game before you encounter repeat cards. Granted, odds are you won't be playing this game with the same set of players multiple times. And it is doubtful YOU will get the same cards, or remember EVERY solution. But still.
For example, I have played Dominion hundreds of times with friends and it still feels fresh every time I play it.
(I think in part because Vaccarino wants to have a Scrooge McDuck money bin of Dominion cards...)
One of the stretch goals of the Kickstarter campaign is making available another 300 puzzle cards, which doubles the # of playthroughs, but still...
Landeros is a lover of puzzles, has cited his love for Games Magazine, and does appear to have put the same amount of craft and thought into these puzzles as the computer game. But when the question becomes how many cards did he actually work on vs. CTRL+C CTRL+V The Exeter Riddles and Trivial Pursuit style trivia cards, it raises more doubt.
(Those medievalists knew how to pen a riddle...)
One of the initial things I noted is that The 7th Guest only supports up to six people and only has the six guests from the computer game. Figurines for Ego and Stauf are a stretch goal unlock for the board game...but The 7th Guest of The 7th Guest is strangely absent?
(There. Problem solved.)
So, from a standpoint of faithfulness to the video game,I do think that some of the puzzles present will be quite similar and faithful to the style of puzzle from the video game. And, if nothing else, the characters and locations from the game are present in the board game as well.
However, I think that the issue, for me, is with the board game mechanic side of things. By constricting the replayability of the game game with a limited amount of cards, you run into the issue of turning off potential customers. As the Kickstarter mentions, you may have never played the game when it released if you didn't have a CDROM, or perhaps not even alive yet. So, you need to pull in a new generation, a new audience, and to do that, you have to stand out in the sea of Kickstarters, let alone the deluge of board game releases we see each month.
Not to mention, the theme has to be there 110%. I do think that, for a game that relied heavily on FMV and 3D rendered environments to tell the story and pull the player in, it is hard to translate that to a board game. I know it may sound silly, but I wonder if something along the line of video integration into this project would have made for a more authentic experience. I will confess, the Star Trek VCR Interactive Board Game is a guilty pleasure of mine.
(You know you want to buy this game. BUY IT OR EXPERIENCE BIJ!!!!!)
And while VCR technology, or even video integrated technology into board games was by and larg, a failure, with often abysmal gameplay and lack of replayability, I am curious as to its applicability to this particular title.
The other issue I have is with the price. Admittedly a smaller print run = high cost per unit. But with a game that is, by and large, mostly cards and board, the $65 price tag for the base game seems a bit on the higher scale for a board game. Yes, the custom die and 7 miniatures drive up the price to a degree, but the other components are the box, 444 cards, and a board. Further, they mention the suggested retail price of this game would normally be $100, but they state on the Kickstarter that they are more interested in getting the game created vs. making a profit off of it, hence the $65 price vs. nearly a $100 price for the game.
With a price tag of $65 -> the SRP of $100, there are A METRIC TON of board games you place yourself in direct competition with. Gamers, in theory, have limited budgets for board games, and a gamer could get a similarly priced game, or several smaller games.
(Or just buy Mindtrap if logic puzzles is your game)
Plus, the $65 price is limited to 750 backers and, as of April 4th, 2017, the Kickstarter is sitting at 726/750. The next pledge level is at $105 for the game. Even for the purposes of collecting video game board games and for the purposes of reviewing it on the podcast, if, by the time I decide whether to kickstart it or not, and it is at the $100+ pledge level, I won't be backing it.
UPDATE: Checking back on April 5th, I see the Kickstarted has adjusted their pledge levels, removing the limited run of the base game to allow for more people to have a choice other than dropping $100 on a game.
But after several days on Kickstarter, The 7th Guests is currently at roughly 50% funding, so what the heck do I know?
(Mrs. Pacman gets me.)
That aside, do I give a recommendation to The 7th Guest Board Game as it stands on Kickstarter? If you liked the game, or just enjoyed that era of gaming (See: Myst), I would say tentatively a maybe. I imagine many people who are going to back this game will back it regardless of the actual gameplay and based upon the license alone.
From simply a gamerly recommendation, I don't know if I can get on board with a game with limited replayability and an obscenely high price tag for minimal components. For example, the sample PDF of the rules are less than 2 pages in length. So, beyond some of the puzzles, you are not getting a game with any depth or much strategy.
I guess my main issue is there isn't a lot that is unique about this game; things present in this game are in many other games and, beyond the license, I am unsure how alluring this will be to individuals unfamiliar with the franchise.
In my waffling way, I guess I am neutral on the project. I honestly think that many of the puzzles will be challenging and enjoyable, and and will be the best part of the game. However, I almost forgot to add, according to the Kickstarter, this game can take UP TO FIVE HOURS!!@!
FIVE. HOURS. FIVE. HOURS. FIVE. HOURS. FIVE. HOURS. FIVE. HOURS.
(This is The 7th Guest, not The Campaign For North Africa.)
I imagine with 6 players playing 18 destination cards would perhaps be the reason for the crazy game time. That, and there isn't necessarily a time limit on solving the puzzles, allowing players to work out the puzzles in their own time until they choose to give up. So, think of the time limit as more about the time to experience The 7th Guest Board Game vs. play time. Kinda like Tales of Arabian Nights. But, if thats the case, theme needs to be at, like, 5000%.
Regardless, the Kickstarter will be going until May the 4th. The mansion awaits, will you get your heart's most secret desire?
...maybe I need to rethink mine...
(Check out GAMES Magazine while you are at it.)