Wednesday, March 22

Resident Evil 2 The Board Game

I played on: N/A
I paid: nothing; it was a Christmas present from my fantastic wife <3
This game is available on: N/A
Notes: This board game is played out of the box on a table or other surface.

Resident Evil 2 and its amazing remake are two of the most iconic games ever. Many fans consider either the original classic or the brilliant remake one of if not the best games in the entire series. Adapting this into an analogue, multiplayer board game must have been a challenge for Steamforged Games. I wish I could say that they nailed the experience like the Fallout board game did, but that isn’t the case here.

You can play as one of four survivors, Leon S Kennedy, Claire Redfield, Ada Wong and Robert Kendo. Up to four players can play together, while you can play with a single player. The more survivors there are, the easier the experience will be. Using connecting tiles representing locations from the game, you will set them up in a certain way following the scenario map included. Each tile will have at least one door connecting it to its neighbour. Then you have tokens labelled A and B, representing randomly shuffled item cards sorted into two decks. You also have event cards that will lead to an all-clear or dangerous event you need to survive an evade dice roll for or deal with incoming enemies. During each player's turn, you have up to four actions: attack, search, open a door, or move. After all four actions, all nearby enemies will react to you, either moving closer or outright attacking if they are within range. Lastly, you draw an event card and then move to the next player. 

Once you get into the action, this is a really enjoyable time. Working with my wife to make the most effective use of ammo, key items, and so on is a blast. I’ve always preferred my board games to be cooperative rather than competitive; the RE2 board game nails this. This may sound like an odd comparison, but what it reminds me of, more than RE2, is the Outbreak games. The comradeship in trying to make it out of the doomed city together is terrific.

So if the gameplay is so good, what makes the Resident Evil 2 board game a lacklustre experience? That would be the absurd amount of set-up time required. I love a good board game and understand that an unavoidable part of any board game is the initial setup and clean-up. I don’t mind this usually. Even with other complex board games, like the Fallout board game, D&D’s Castle Ravenloft and so on, you only have to set up the game once and then clean up once. Resident Evil is rather ambitious and attempts to translate the entire story of RE2 into the board game format. This is achieved via five separate scenarios, even more, if you have the B-files or other expansions. After you finish a scenario, you must rearrange the board into the map for the following scenario, collect all the new cards for the encounter and item decks, and set out all the tokens and enemies again. This can take around twenty minutes, sometimes longer, per scenario. Overall, you end up spending half the time with the game just setting it up, re-setting it up and then cleaning it up. Stopping after each twenty-minute to hour session to do this also destroys the pacing. You can be having a grand time, make it out of a scenario by the skin of your teeth, all pumped and ready to continue but then need to pause and set up the following scenario, which kills the tension from the last one.

I love Resident Evil, and so I wanted to love this game as well, but the truth is, I don’t. When you’re in the middle of a scenario, it’s great. Top-tier board gaming even. But then you reach a point, and you need to stop, pull out the box, and spend half an hour setting up the next part of the game. This kills the experience, in my opinion. All the tension, world-building, and comradeship from the previous scenario is dead by the time you start the next one. If I were you, I’d sadly give this interesting adaption of a classic video game a miss.

Recommendation Rating: 3 out of 10

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