Review: Resident Evil 2 The Board Game – escape from Raccoon City
Today it sounds almost like a fairy tale. Everything started quietly at Umbrella Corporation facilities. They developer a virus, that should have been destroyed immediately. But instead it seemed to be an excellent way to gain military superiority. So scientists kept it. Unfortunately, it took few days to escape the quarantine. Nowadays, not only undead, but also other, more menacing monsters, walk the earth. This story is far from a fairytale, because we already know the end – none of us will be alive in a few months.
Resident Evil is a computer game series with a tremendous tradition, that has seen a series of sequels. And just a few weeks ago, a remaster of classical Resident Evil 2 for consoles also came out. And at a similar time, a board game that has a totally identical theme came to table of all horror fans. It’s clear from name – Resident Evil 2: The Board Game. Mat Hart and Sherwin Matthews were certainly also among the fans of the game, who are signed under the new box. The game is then released by Steamforged Games (through the Kickstarter campaign) and offered by Esdevium Games for market in Europe.
The lid is surprisingly white, but the bloody red inscription and above all the crack with monster looking through, will stand out. It is the crack, that the players use and quickly peek under the lid, where they can find cardboard tiles to build a map. Inspiration must be found in a selection of scenarios, that each has its own specific setup. The map determines not only the layout of rooms, walls, corridors and doors, but also position of enemies and items. Most of the components miniatures. Before the first game, players have to compile ten rotating pointers, one for every weapon (and one for life points of the boss).
Players each choose one of the four available heroes, get his card, a miniature (placed on the starting position of the map), but above all a life indicator card. It is divided into five positions and the token should be placed in the beginning into a column to the far left – green with text saying Fine. Each hero has not only its clearly stated maximum load capacity and evade ability but, above all, only can use some weapons as printed on his card. To start with, heroes will all get a knife and a handgun, that is known to everyone. For a firearm, the player must also take one ammunition indicator. Creature miniatures are placed as prescribed by the chosen scenario.
Players move in their turn, but monsters do not stay behind. So, while the player has four action points for his character, he can move, open the door, use objects, trade with teammates and, above all, search. This is only possible in the place where the token with the object is located. But player will get random equipment from the shuffled deck.
Above all, he can attack the enemy. Each weapon has its range and some are only functional for close-up, such as the knife mentioned above. The equipment card itself prescribes dice, which are rolled and the outcome varies according to the number of hits rolled. It can be a simple push of the monster backwards (usually) and only in the most stellar moments, player really hurt the zombie. Many enemies then need only one hit to get killed.
Enemies react to players and their figures. As soon as one hero’s move ends, all the monsters nearby will activate and limp (zombies are slow, remember?) towards the nearest prey. And once they get close enough, they attack. Such successful hits give hero instant injury and do not need a dice (moving token on his health card to the right). On the other hand, a defending player can try to avoid the attack with the help of his hero’s evade ability and roll a dice. But shifts and attacks are happening also every time the heroes attack.
Players, however, in their movement on the map also reveal unexplored areas, and the result of the exploration is always determined by the dice. However, they may not only find a monster, but just a sense of uncertainty or need to throw a dice of evasion to quickly avoid something dangerous.
At the end of each turn, player has to undergo a stressful phase, in which he discovers one card and hopes he will not hurt the team. It can cause trouble, but it can also mean quiet ending of the turn. Players alternate in this way and try to accomplish the task, they have been given in a specific scenario.
Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is an interesting innovation in cooperative genre, that comes with a number of unique ideas. The main thing is, that the enemies are moving depending on the players. The more you attack, the more the loop of monsters pulls around you. And then there are the bosses, who each have their own deck of cards (yep, similar to Dark Souls), which in turn shifts the experience of fighting them a little further.
Personally, I liked the sense of limited weapon skills. Still, players have the motivation to pick them up and pass to their colleagues, who can use them. In addition, the sense of finiteness of the ammo keeps you breathing anxiously and is a source of uncertainty. Cardboard rotating pieces are great, although their top and bottom part are not aligned perfectly.
The game keeps you busy all the time. It does not matter, that the whole story of one escape usually takes place in less than two hours. You will need them especially in four participants. Unfortunately, at this time, you also have to add a relatively unpleasantly lengthy setup, which is the fault of the bizarre map and deployment of a number of elements.
Interesting differences are in the number of players. The game works in all recommended counts, but always a little differently. In two players, everyone starts elsewhere and they can talk, but each one fights more or less for himself. But with more survivors, teamwork moves the experience even higher. In addition, Resident Evil 2 can also be played as a solo game.
Every scenario looks completely different and provides you with different task. Sometimes, it comes down to some tricky tasks, that are not just about „go there!“ There are also intermediate stages, that need to be successfully completed to move the story further. Players must constantly communicate with each other and try to beat the game. And before you run out of the cards in the tension deck. Once that happens, it’s all over.
Then there is another element, that makes the game really close to the original PC game. Players can save their position during their journey and thus restore their tension deck. They simply shuffle the already used cards back. There is only one place, where they can do it – in a room with a typewriter! Do you remember, how Resident Evil 2 was saved? I do not need to explain it to you.
The entire campaign contains eight tales, that follow one storyline. Once you’ve done it, you have no urge to try it again. In the meantime, you will find most cards and feel, that the game has nothing to offer. You can come back to it maybe in a few months, because the zombies are really fun to fight here.
The difficulty certainly does not correspond to any walk in the pink orchard. The hopelessness should attack players from all sides, because the chances of survival are scarce. The publisher has tried this all before in his previous Dark Souls game and this time, they returned with a wish to maintain proper difficulty. Every monster is a challenge in itself, and it’s not easy to kill. Unfortunately, success is at the same time a matter of luck and it leaves the players depending on a fortune. Not only in battle, but also in the accidental picking of items, which can be an important step between victory and defeat.
Unfortunately, the whole graphic (though true to horror setting) is too dark. This is particularly noticeable on maps, where you can hardly find any details. The problem is even more evident on door tokens, which make it difficult to distinguish open side from closed. Maybe, graphic designers have taken instructions from console games true to their heart – darken your TV until the picture is barely visible. And then they moved on the scale another one or two more steps, making it really really too dark.
Overall, the feeling of the components (honest exceptions are solid miniatures) and the gameplay is bad enough, which is a shame, when we take really good gameplay into account. This is also true for the ammo indicators, that help you record the amount of ammunition. And when you run out of ammo, you suddenly find, that there is no zero on the pointer! Strange!
Resident Evil 2 has a great gameplay and it’s a really hard game, but it is especially successful in transferring the feeling of classic video game to our tables. There are inexplicable problems with component quality, setup time or randomness, but fortunately, the game offers us a quality experience in return. So if you are not nitpickers, then Resident Evil 2 is a great choice and if you are a horror fan (or even a RE2 fan!) add another star to our rating.
Review: Resident Evil 2 The Board Game – escape from Raccoon City
Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is a true classic of computer gaming and its board game sister would like to walk in its footsteps. The zombies are always ready to throw at you and torment you. The game is tough and it will take a moment to complete all eight stories successfully, because the individual matches are quite long. The overall impression is negatively influenced by processing, that is more important in board games, than in digital ones. Unfortunately, this is also reason, why a number of players will be discouraged from playing Resident Evil 2, although the game does not deserve their avoiding.