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Digital Subscriptions > The Best Games of 2019 > The Best Games of 2019 > ALONE

ALONE

If you’re not afraid of the dark, you will be

ALONE

If you’re not afraid of the dark, you will be

Picture courtesy of BoardGameShot

Remember the motion tracker in Aliens that Ellen Ripley used to locate approaching xenomorphs, your heart pounding in time with the relentless bup-bup-bup-bup as the dots blipped ever closer? flat feeling is the feeling of playing as Alone’s isolated hero, Theeing the nightmarish terrors that lurk in the dark: your friends. Alone is a sci-fi dungeon-crawler with a refreshing premise. The solo hero is trapped in a labyrinthine network of corridors and rooms, only able to see a very limited portion of the environment at any point. In the parts of the map they can’t see, on an overlay of the entire environment hidden behind a screen, the ‘evil’ players summon alien monstrosities and lay traps for the unsuspecting explorer to encounter as they try to survive a series of missions.

Having a player serve as a DM-like overlord isn’t exactly new to dungeoncrawling games, but it’s well executed here. Once you’ve wrapped your head around the three (3!) rulebooks in Alone’s box, the game’s reaction-based gameplay quickly becomes second nature, as the hero moves around, scavenges for kit and tries to avoid being turned into extraterrestrial tagine by the evil player(s) as they lay down cards after each action to spawn creatures, move them around and make portions of the map more dangerous. Both sides of the fight can combo actions and cards together – at a cost – so the choices never feel stilted or limited, and there’s never too much downtime.

Alone’s real masterstroke is the claustrophobic atmosphere achieved by its line-of-sight mechanics, which remove sections of the board that the hero player can no longer see, allowing monsters to sneak up in the dark and spring out at them if they fail to explore ahead – or are forced to run and take their chances. Just as engaging is its clever use of light; the hero can repair light units to illuminate sections of the environment, letting them gain the upper hand over monsters that thrive in the darkness. Combat, when it occurs, is fast: a few dice chucked to dish out wounds, with a variety of different aliens, from facehugger stand-ins that move fast but go down in a couple of shots to slow-moving worms that are formidable in the dark but useless in the light, oThering plenty of chances for variation.

There are some other smart additions, including a basic system of unlockable hero abilities and a sizeable inventory board that lets them keep track of where unseen noises are coming from – something that the evil players can use as distractions to their advantage. The constant pressure of time on the hero keeps things moving at a fair clip, gently prodding them out of a safe ‘check every corner’ approach, while the opportunity to complete optional objectives for extra benefits stops things being too predictable on either side of the screen.

Alone’s gripping atmosphere suThers only in its adherence to sci-fi cliché – none of the monsters or heroes are overly memorable, and the map tiles are near-identical grey corridors. The repetitive visuals add to the sense of being lost in a maze, but do little to bring the world alive, even during the campaign mode.

The game’s other stumble is that it works best as a head-to-head experience for two players. While adding a second or third evil player adds an interesting element of restricted communication and co-operation, it doesn’t go far enough to make up for the diluted tension of a one-on-one chase. Alone doesn’t quite stand completely apart from the dungeon-crawler crowd, but its tense use of unseen danger and reversal of the one-versus-many format gives it plenty to recommend. Bring it into the light and it might just surprise you.

MATT JARVIS

WE SAY

Alone’s inventive use of line-of-sight really makes the horror lurking in the dark feel truly frightening – even if its monsters aren’t all that memorable once you see them. It’s decent fun with three or four, but a two-player hunt is where it shines brightest.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

► Hero sheet

► Evil screen

► 21 item cards

► Four character cards

► 104 reaction cards (four decks)

► Eight green starting mission cards

► Eight blue starting mission cards

► Eight final mission cards

► Four reference cards

► Compass

► Eight room tokens

► Six mission tokens

► Eight dice

► Two map sheets

► 10 doors

► 15 creature tokens

► Two boss tokens

► Two difficulty level tokens

► Five hero miniatures

► Three cultist miniatures

► Cultist leader miniature

► Three hybrid miniatures

► Three spores miniatures

► Three parasite miniatures

► Three worm miniatures

► Alpha Worm miniature

► Mech miniature

► Eight room tiles

► 17 corridor tiles

► Round marker

► Eight turn tokens

► Six adrenaline tokens

► 73 charge tokens

► HP marker

► Four stairs tokens

► Light/blocked tokens

► Evil leader token

► SC marker

► Stairs/LCU tiles

► Danger/condition tokens

► Hero token

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED… DESCENT: JOURNEYS IN THE DARK

Alone’s sight-based action brings something new to the dungeon-crawling format, making those journeys in the dark even more dangerous.

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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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