Van Ryder Games new solo game Final Girl now on Kickstarter

Final Girl Cover

The theme might not be for everyone, but the system is Hostage Negotiator system is sound and improved!

I have spoken about Hostage Negotiator a few times. I am still awaiting Hostage Negotiator: Career, but as is everyone with all that has been happening.

If you haven’t read my musings on Hostage Negotiator, it’s a solo hand management game where you are at the mercy of dice rolls. There are different Abductors you can expand the core game with, each with different objectives and triggers. Skill tests are made with two dice, and conversation cards let you try and talk down the Abductor to release Hostages.

And I know that a lot of people have already tuned out. This is a pity because Hostage Negotiator is an enjoyable puzzle that the random nature of dice rolls makes eminently replayable.

Why am I droning on about Hostage Negotiator? Because yesterday the second game to use the system has launched on Kickstarter – Final Girl.

Final Girl Kickstarter
If you don't like horror films, this game won't change your mind

Why would I be interested in Final Girl?

Final Girl won’t be for everyone. This time, I think the theme will either make or break it for most. Now, you play scenarios that are heavily inspired by horror movies.

You get a stereotypical ‘killer’ and a location. These can be mixed and matched for variety. The location is the first significant deviation from the traditional Hostage Negotiator formula.

Final Girl Scenarios
The inspiration is pretty obvious, even for non-horror fans

You then select your Final Girl – this is the character that will have the big showdown with the big bad. In true horror movie fashion, your last health has the potential to be an adrenaline rush, giving you one more chance to win.

Hostages are replaced by Victims in Final Girl. These victims are positioned around the location, and you must weigh up saving victims or letting the killer do their thing.

Umm, OK. That doesn’t sound very interesting.

This is a problem with the game system. Until you play a round or two, it’s hard to talk about the feeling the system elicits in you.

Each round, you need to try and save up enough to buy cards for the next round. These cards will let you move, fight, alter dice rolls – there are a lot of choices. There is also the luck factor – if you fail checks, your turn can end immediately, making future turns harder.

The luck mitigation in Hostage Negotiator was brutal. You could sacrifice two cards from your hand to create success but at the cost of other abilities that turn.

Hostage Negotiator App Screenshot 14
Winning in Hostage Negotiator takes a lot of patience and luck

Hostage Negotiator has crushed me and elated me because of a die roll. You now have more chances to convert cards into success, but this only makes me more curious as to what extra obstacles I will have to encounter.

This still doesn’t sound that interesting.

Me just writing about it doesn’t help. As you know, I am currently starting the path to update site content. Right now I can’t play a round of Hostage Negotiator to show you what the game is like to play.

Luckily, some others have had the chance to play with the prototype of Final Girl. Hopefully, they will be able to show you better than I can describe it!

If you want to try the original game, grab it on Android or iOS. The graphics aren’t great, but the mechanics are very faithful to the source. This is the best way to find out if these sorts of games are for you.

And you will want to know if it is for you, because of the price…

Wait, it’s how much?

Yep. Van Ryder Games come at a premium, and it’s harder to justify that cost compared to games like Frosthaven based purely on components.

It really depends on the sort of gaming you do. If you are a solo player, you will have literally hours of fun with Final Girl. I know I have close to two hundred hours of Hostage Negotiator under my belt. And that is without touching half of the extra abductor packs I have to extend it even further!

I have gone all-in and flipping up on getting the 3D minis as well. Meeples work well, but it’s only a little extra. I will sleep on it. Comparing the cost to Frosthaven is fair, but so is the number of playable hours you can get from the game.

But if you have made it this far, give Final Girl a look over on Kickstarter. I have yet to have a Van Ryder Game fail me in terms of immersion and value for money!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo Impressions

FF7 Remake Demo Feature

Calling it a Game Preview or a Demo Review feels wrong.

So earlier this week, Square Enix quietly dropped the demo for Final Fantasy VII remake on PSN. I had it downloaded within 2 hours, but I couldn’t play it until the next night.

Hey, you know what it’s like. You could start playing for an unknown amount of time now, or save it until tomorrow night and have a reward for getting through another day 😀

I have finished Final Fantasy VII maybe 15-16 time? Just over a dozen. I know this as for 10 years, I played Final Fantasy VII every October as an annual play.

It is the same demo that was available at PAX Aus 2019 and isn’t the ‘new’ preview that reviewers have gotten their hands on. It took me just over an hour to finish the demo, compared to the section of boss fight I got to play last year.

TL;DR: If you are interested in the game, play the demo. It’s just long enough and shows off the new game brilliantly.

Wait, that’s it? Play the Demo?

No, that’s just if you want to experience it for yourself without hearing anything about the game. True, if you are reading this, you want to know about it, but I like to leave the choice 🙂

If you are like me and of that age that you remember the original release, this demo has another facet that might interest you. Remember in the build-up to Final Fantasy VIIs release on PS1? Remember that demo we all played over and over again that came with Official PlayStation Magazine or your local equivalent?

This is the same demo remade. Same mission, same endpoint, same urge to play it over and over again. If you want to know if Square Enix is doing this just for the money, look at this. Are they remaking because of the commercial success anything with Final Fantasy VII on it? Of course, that’s a factor.

Midgar
I was in awe when I first saw this screen. That feeling as not diminished.

But to quietly remake the demo to that level and not blast the PR trumpet? This is a game being built with love, and it shows.

So what did you think?

I don’t think many people haven’t seen the new graphical style of Final Fantasy VII Remake. I have been trying to avoid spoilers, but headlines and opinions in podcasts make it through.

The game is beautiful. One thing that I love is there is virtually no transition between exploring Midgar and combat. Random encounters, at least in this first ‘tutorial’ section of the game, don’t seem to exist. I have mixed feelings about this. It’s harder to over level your characters, which is a tactic I use in any RPG. At least if you want to go explore another corner in a room, you don’t have 10 minutes of extra combat because of surprises.

If it wasn’t already obvious, Square Enix has really earned the Remake moniker. Final Fantasy VII Remake might have the same core story, but it’s an entirely different game. From the start of the game, turning left after the train (veterans know what I am talking about) smoothly transitioned into the station, and the station felt bigger.

Hero Landing
As Deadpool said - murder on the knees :p

I thought it would take a long time for anyone to challenge Capcom in this area. Resident Evil 2 Remake was just so good, and I can’t wait to play Resident Evil 3 soon. My original plan was playing bursts of Final Fantasy VII in between other games.

Nope. All other video games will be put on hold until I finish Final Fantasy VII Remake.

What did you think about the changes? How was the combat?

Remembering I have only played a small slice of the game; overall, I love the changes made so far. You now have smashable crates to explore as well as chests. There are plenty of areas to go and explore in a now-familiar open-world setting. The changes they made you can see are things they couldn’t do on the PlayStation 1.

Sure, some things they could have implemented like smashable crates. But the number of new areas to explore just in the demo would have made Final Fantasy VII 10+ discs!

Level Exploration
It's easier than randomly mashing X to find a secret, and looks cool

I was worried about the length of the game when I heard that the Remake was becoming episodic. After playing the Demo, I’m good 😀
Sure, I will be waiting like everyone else to see what happens outside of Midgar. Waiting bites. But it took me 2-3 times longer to casually investigate my way to the first reactor. I haven’t tried hunting yet – I am leaving that for the full release.

Combat I am still trying to come to grips with. Overall it’s excellent, and I am enjoying it. The tactic of swapping between different characters during combat or issuing commands feels good. Waiting for your ATB gauge to fill to use some of your skills like materia feels like Final Fantasy VII. Still, a lot of fights I just wailed on the enemy with the attack button.

Unlike Final Fantasy XV which felt like ‘Hold Attack To Win’, Final Fantasy VII Remake has a combo system. Nothing crazy, but you can time swings or hold attack for a combo. It’s not dexterity heavy, and it’s not as slow as turn-based. It’s a solid middle ground I think most players will enjoy.

First Control Tutorial
The demo drops you straight into the action. The tutorial is solid, and not overly intrusive

There are a couple of downsides, though. I keep hitting R2 to run during combat, and I don’t know why. I hit the run button, but that opens commands during battle. I don’t seem to be able to run during fights? I can roll away with evade, but running towards an enemy when they leap away appears to be a no-no. This could be user error, not a shortcoming.

And you know something? That’s my biggest complaint!

Spoilers?

Not here. Saying the demo takes you to the end of the first Mako Reactor isn’t really a spoiler. You know the original and have an idea, or you have never played, and the words are meaningless.

When I was playing, I was hoping for a save point so I could call it a night. I was also hoping I could continue my play from the demo in the main game. You can’t. You will have to play the first section again, no matter what.

Generally in a Final Fantasy game, the first 2-5 hours are a lot of story setup and boring to replay over and over. The demo will have you replay the opening again, but you don’t go far enough in that it’s a chore. You also get enough of a tease on story changes without making seeing them again a chore.

Mako Reactor
I always pictured rivers of Mako in the original, but this looks so amazing!

So your verdict?

No rating here, as it’s just thoughts on a demo. But if you are interested or on the fence about Final Fantasy VII Remake, play the demo. You will have enough of a look at the gameplay to let you know if you want to play it or not.

Personally, this is just another reason I can’t wait for April. I will probably be hitting this hard during the Easter long weekend, and I think I will love every second of it 😀

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Draconic Dice Crypt Preview

Sometimes you want something in front of you that screams ‘Bring it On!’

I know I have been a bit quiet on the Kickstarter front recently. Partly, this has been because of time and not backing at my usual pace. It has been because all the big projects are getting plenty of press.

Joel from PrintableNerdGear.com got in touch with me recently about his new project. It won’t be for everyone, but for the creative hands-on player, this is a project that has fantastic potential.

Introducing the Draconic Dice Crypt.

If you use this, you are declaring the world yours before you begin

Need no further information? Check out PrintableNerdGear.com and the Kickstarter project here.

Wow, what is that? Wait – it’s a dice-box?

On the surface – yep. You can store your die and miniature in this table talking piece. Oh, and drinks while you are playing. But can you imagine the look on your players’ faces as you set this on the table?

“We have to face what? What is that? Can I cast a spell yet?” The questions come at you fast and quickly as they frantically try and brace for some upcoming boss battle.

“What? This? It’s just my dice box. No big deal.” You say as you continue nonchalantly setting up. Or imagine your new gaming groups faces as you pull out your ‘kit’.

Or maybe you are a Magic: The Gathering player? There will be options to make the Draconic Dice Crypt usable in Magic as well.

Any way you use it, the Draconic Dice Crypt will undoubtedly command attention on the table, and deservedly so.

Looking into the open Crypt. That's right - that's the inside you can see!

But it’s a dice-box. So it’s just a box that holds my dice? What makes it so unique?

Well, apart from the look, the Draconic Dice Crypt is more than an ordinary dice box. There are several sections that you can choose to use for more dice storage, miniature protection, even (if a stretch goal is unlocked) a dice tower that comes from the middle and twists together.

This isn’t just a dice box. To think of it that way is to assume a Ferrari is just a car. What is for sale is an amazingly well-designed game storage system that will be uniquely yours.

There are a lot of storage systems that promise ‘unique’ options for each customer, but you pick from a handful of predefined choices. The Draconic Dice Crypt looks to live up to the promise though. How? Well, it’s a massive model you will need to make yourself. 

Make it yourself?

Just in the same way each mini you paint is yours, the same applies to the Draconic Dice Crypt. It’s more than paint scheme though. You will make the Crypt yourself with a 3D printer. So you can choose your materials and create it all from scratch!

So what am I making?

The body itself quite roomy, and the design includes holes for rare earth magnets (easily buyable from Amazon or the like) to keep the lid secured.

The Draconic Dice Crypt then has four main parts – Lid, Top Insert, Bottom Insert and Bottom Dice Tray insert. Each section will have multiple designs that are going to unlocked during the Kickstarter campaign.

When you back the project, you will be able to print the sections you want as you will receive the files for all unlocked designs. If you wanted to make a few different Draconic Dice Crypts you can whenever you want!

I know I am talking around the Crypt itself, but because it will be personal to you it’s hard to describe why I find it so amazing. Check out the promotional Kickstarter video to see the Crypt in action – images speak louder than words!

It's a couple of days from Live, but look at the insert for the top!

It looks amazing! How much is it?

For Kickstarter backers, the Draconic Dice Crypt will be USD$15. Post the campaign, the cost will be USD$30 and will not have all the same designs, so this is a fantastic deal!

When you look at the project, you will also see a USD$350 option. Before you jam that back now button though, be advised this is for a Commercial license of the Dice Crypt. Only people that will be making these and selling them will need to look at this option; most people will only need the $15 tier for their prints.

So what do I need to make the Draconic Dice Crypt?

Only a 3D printer and patience. Probably best with a mid-tier printer though, you will need one that can take a moderately large print job. My old UP! Mini wouldn’t cut it in one print for example.

The main issue is the size of the body print. You will need a printer that can comfortably print a 7″ x 7″ x 5.1″ (180mm x 180mm x 130mm) print job. This isn’t an issue for the more upscale home printers (e.g. the UP!300), but the sub AUD$1,000 printers probably won’t cut it in one go.

That’s not to say that you can’t make it though – you will need to print the base in multiple parts and glue it together.

Then, of course, to complete the look you will need to paint your creation! Once the project is over, Printable Nerd Gear will be showing off some projects submitted by customers with the #PrintableNerdGear tag. I can’t wait to see what people make of this. I love what people can do already with minis, and this can lead to work of beauty!

That sounds like a lot of work!

Yes, it does. And it won’t be easy on materials either. Joel said that he used about 530 grams of plastic just for the body. Hence my earlier comment about this project not being for everyone.

If you would like someone to make it for you, there are options. I completely forgot to ask Joel about sending the personal file off to a 3D printing service. Still, I would assume this would be within the personal license (especially with a reputable 3D printing service), but I will be asking the question to make sure.

There is also the option of asking backers with Commercial licenses (general questions on the project) for contact details. People that buy this license will be looking for customers so that you could order the build. The cost would cover time and materials, of course, but it would still be a lot cheaper than buying a 3D Printer!

It's a couple of days from Live, but look at the insert for the top!

Will you be backing this?

Probably? It’s an amazing project. My 3D printer is out of action, but that’s not a major hurdle for me.

Full disclosure, I was offered a copy of the unlocked files. I declined because this is the type of project that I love to share, and would have written about in any case.

I honestly want one of these crypts, but I haven’t printed (or painted!) anything in a few years. I am already time-poor, but even if I didn’t use it for games, it would be a fantastic display piece.

For the cost, I think backing the Draconic Dice Crypt will be worth it. Half the final price, all of the options, and I can look into printing and painting when I am ready.

When does the Kickstarter happen?

When else would you start a project based on killing a dragon to hold your dice? HALLOWEEN! 6 pm Eastern for our US friends to be exact. About 10 am on 1/11/2019 AEST, or 9 am for those of us without daylight savings.

You don’t have to wait to check it all out though. You can go to PrintableNerdGear.com and check it all out (and sign up for notification emails), go to the Kickstarter project here.

Have a great week!

JohnHQLD.
This is something awesome to behold. Make sure to check out the Kickstarter!

Watching the Blood on the Clocktower

Blood on the Clocktower Box Art

**QUICK UPDATE: Blood on the Clocktower’s Kickstarter is now live – go check it out!

I’m just a villager.  Wait wrong game!

Social Deduction and Hidden Role games are great to play with a wide range of different people.  Get a dozen or so people together, and watch the shenanigans commence!

The most common examples are Ultimate Werewolf (or the Werewolves of Millers Hollow!) and Mafia, and while they are great to play they share some fundamental problems.

So common problems with these types of games:

  1. Player Elimination – these games can go for over an hour, so if you are the first one out you are going to be really bored for a while.
  2. Little initial information – the first round is normally along the lines of “Hey, you’re wearing a red shirt.  We vote to eliminate you!”.  It takes a few rounds to start getting some real information, so the first few people eliminated are out for no real reason.  This can put people off playing.
  3. It’s a commitment to play – These types of games tend to not allow people to join later or leave if required as it can harm ‘the balance’.  Even if you do just throw someone in, they tend to be the next victim just because they can be which isn’t fun.

So all this in mind, why play these games?  Because once you are in the game, they really are a lot of fun.  But you have to be into the game.  If you are in a group that knows the negatives, having people prepared to sit or play filler games like Love Letter means no one is really put out.  Also, if you do play as an end of the night game, eliminated players can leave without guilt if they so choose.

Newer games like WitchHunt and Two Rooms and a Boom have come a long way in trying to address such issues.  But today I am interested in Blood on the Clocktower, a game by Steven Medway and his Sydney Australian Based team currently being demoed at Origins!

So what makes me so excited about Blood on the Clocktower?

  1. No player elimination – even when you ‘die’, you are still in the game.  And the dead break ties!
  2. Drop in mechanics cooked in – someone gets stuck in traffic, or a random sees you playing and asks what you are doing?  No problem!  Each new player is a Traveller with fixed powers, but if they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is to be determined.
  3. No role reveal – experience werewolf players, for example, have an idea of how many werewolves are in a game based on player numbers.  When someone is eliminated and confirms their role, the card counter players get more and more of an advantage while playing.  Not anymore!
  4. Almost all players can bluff that they are someone else – everyone has a ‘cheat sheet’ of all roles, so you can refer to the rules at any time instead of having to try and memorise a bunch of roles immediately.
  5. Drunk and Poison mechanics – I already play this way a little bit when moderating Werewolf, but it’s great to see it actually in the ruleset.  Basically, if you are drunk or poisoned, the moderator can lie to you.  This allows the group to have fun poisoning their teammates (or giving them drinks to get them drunk), and the moderator then has the power to lie to those players.  Personally, I know a few players I will be buying drinks for, just to add to the realism of course 😀
Blood on the Clocktower Contents
The game definitely does a great job of setting the mood. And simple components!
Blood on the Clocktower Townsfolk
Some of the 'good' townsfolk
Blood on the Clocktower Demons
Some Demons from Blood on the Clocktower, or the 'evil' team

So if you have played Werewolf or Mafia type games, you basically already know the basics of how to play the first game Trouble Brewing.  But here is a video of the game being played and their reactions, which really sells the game more than my words ever could.

Wait you said first game?  What are you talking about John?

There will be multiple editions or essentially expansions for the game, with Trouble Brewing as seen in the video being the first or three planned editions.  The expansion titles are ‘Sex and Violence’ and ‘Bad Moon Rising’, so they have my pun vote at the very least!

Altogether, the three titles will give players around 90 characters to play, so changing up games will not be an issue.  And all three editions will be available when the game is released on Kickstarter!  The downside is the Kickstarter looks like it won’t be running until December, so patience will be required.

Or will it?

If you check out the Blood on the Clocktower website, there are regular game sessions in Sydney that you can play now!  These sessions are in Surrey Hills and run on the first and third Thursday of the month.  Check out their Facebook page for more information if you would like to attend.

I may see a Thursday night flight down to Sydney one long weekend in the near future…

Be sure that I will be posting more about Blood on the Clocktower over the next few months, including when the Kickstarter is available.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD