Now or Never Review

13 July 2022
An ultimatum worth considering

The very first impression you pick up from this game, isn’t necessarily the gorgeous looking front cover, or the promise of adventure set by its predecessors. Instead, there’s a good chance it’s the sheer weight of the box, a true door stop, and one which means you can skip arm day at the gym completely guilt free. Of course, with a £50 price, if price per piece were a metric, it does immediately seem reasonable.

Brick like weight aside, this is not the game I was expecting. Having not played the games that went before it, I was under the illusion it was ‘merely’ a story led adventure, which often comes with specific features – cooperative, slow to medium paced, fluffy happy storyline, and was ready to approach the review with a discussion of the storyline, the aspect these kinds of games live and die on. I was to some extent wrong, but in quite the delightful way.

Now or Never is a game of rebuilding your ancestral village, and guiding home the rest of the villagers. The art is beautiful and idyllic, but don’t be deceived – this is an asymmetric competitive strategy game, complete with a story to flesh it out, and some meteorite creatures to fend off. Though there are collaborative elements – you can hire others specialists - it’s all about you in the end. Inside, you get six chapters, with each made up of a 48 page A5 tome, meaning both that the game is available in digestible chunks, but also that it’s not a five minute play through. Even playing solo, I well exceeded the suggested time playing.

There’s a certain amount of replayability inherent in it too – it’s not simply “You’ve read the story and now you can’t play again’, a fate many suffer. Each character offered is interesting and has different abilities, backgrounds, and motivations, and so once you’ve played through with one – upgrading Namal, the robo-cat searching for her daughter being my favourite – you want to see how different the experience is as another character. And nicely – it is different.

That’s not all there is to the game however, as pleasingly there are actually two modes to play it – standard, and story. The latter requires the story books, the former doesn’t. The rulebook recommends starting with this mode before the story mode – advice I’d wished I’d taken, and will impart to you, as it prevents the back and forth of trying to decipher how to play whilst being offered a ton of flavour at the same time. Nothing that way gets lost along the way. It stands up well in this mode, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either. The fact it contains both is really its strength.

And the story? Perhaps controversially, I thought this could have been more engaging. That’s not to say it’s bad in any way (it isn’t), and admittedly I had high story expectations going in. The game however doesn’t purport to be a novel, it does claim to be a game – and I do think it well met and exceeded expectations here.

Charlie Pettit


A fun game with and without the story.

Pick up a copy for yourself here


An easy recommendation to make, as Now or Never is the next in the series that began with Above and Below.

Find your own copy here

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Designer: Ryan Laukat

Publisher: Red Raven Games

Time: 90-180 minutes

Players: 1-4

Ages: 13+

Price: £50

What’s in the box?

  • 66 Coin tokens
  • 4 Hero boards
  • 60 unique villagers
  • Game board
  • 4 Town boards
  • 8 Order tokens
  • 22 Specialists
  • Season board
  • 22 Search tokens
  • 24 Hero ability tokens
  • 21 Gear tokens
  • 50 Enemy tokens
  • 4 Dice
  • 60 Cards
  • 80 Buildings
  • 60 Wooden Pieces
  • Storybooks
  • Airship standee
  • Hero standees
  • Additional villagers
  • Healer tokens
  • Reputation tokens
  • Plastic stands


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