mercoledì 25 aprile 2012

Third Review: Most Likely to Succeed by Tom Lawrence and Josh Hall-Bachner

Most Likely to Succeed is a curious game where a player is going to destroy his high school yearbook in an attempt of putting his own demons to rest.

I admit that I have some serious problems in figuring out how the game works: I'm not sure to have understood what a "yearbook" actually is: our yearbooks, here in Italy, basically are a collection of photos of all the classes of the school, with no articles, columns, or other written things. So I find myself in trouble when I think about *what* of my personal accomplishments possibly could have been recorded in the yearbook, and I can't figure out what could I rip out of it. So I'll just imagine how my yearbook could be.

That said, the game is really interisting: the protagonist will live again certain events of his personal life, in an oniric-like way. His character has been imprisoned in an asylum where he's subjected to psychological torment thanks to which he's able to put his trauma back to rest. At the end of the game the Principal will decide if he's going to leave the asylum.

Every scene is set in the phantasmagoria, a dreamlike place that resembles the character's/player's high school. He'll deal with the various memories of his life (every other player is a memory, and one is the principal) and will eventually battle everyone of them.

The battles are particularly strategic and involve the use of cards. I was initially skeptical about the card thing, because every time someone attempts to add a strategic flavour to the game the incompatibility between narration needs and strategic choices arise. Anyway, I found a cool mechanic in the cards: if you can't narrate how you use a card (and every card must be narrated in a certain why), then you can't use it. What's more, in the card mechanic I found 3 of the 4 ingredients the authors used (all threads but the first one, which by the way I still can't figure out how it has been used), so I think they are ok.

I really liked the flavour and theme of the game: it reminds me of one of my favorite videogames, Rule of Rose, and it also reminds me of a movie, Jacob's Ladder, that inspired the Silent Hill series. Too bad I can't play it because of that yearbook problem.

I like the fact that all the game orbits around one player: usually I find this a poor mechanic because there is a player "playing more than the others" but this time I think that it's fine because all the game focuses on one player own experience, and the other players are just there to help him dealing with that.

I didn't playtest it, so I can't say if some problems arise during the battle. I think that, as a draft, the game is basically ok; after the Game Chef I would work on the necessity to destroy the yearbook. Yeah, it's a fundamental part of the game, but it makes it impossible to play to those who don't have an yearbook, and honestly I don't think there's plenty of people willing to destroy their's just to play a game.

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