Space Alert review

16 December 2015
spacealery-02859.jpg Space Alert
A co-operative game of space exploration

Rio Grande Games | Co-op | £47.99 | 1-5 players | 30 minutes |

In Space Alert your mission is to explore the final frontier. But your spaceship, the Sitting Duck, is no USS Enterprise. You’ll have to contend with faulty shielding, temperamental lasers and malfunctioning battle droids and that’s before you’ve even encountered the dozens of threats lurking in deep space waiting to destroy you.

Space Alert is a co-operative game of space exploration from Czech designer Vlaada Chvátil, who is pratically board game royalty. The game is split into two phases: firstly a ten-minute CD track informs players of the various threats they will encounter (from meteorites and computer viruses to a psionic satellite or interstellar octopus), while they have to plan their actions and movement through the ship by playing cards onto their action board. In the second phase, players resolve their actions in order, hopefully dealing with all the threats and staying alive long enough to warp back home in one piece.

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The CD track adds a frenetic pace to the game and creates a genuine sense of nail-biting tension. Even when things go spectacularly wrong (which is more often than not) it’s always entertaining to watch your characters bumbling around your rapidly disintegrating spaceship; walking into walls, pushing buttons that do nothing and staring out of the window just in time to see the ship being eaten by a Nebula Crab. As with most of Vlaada Chvátil’s games, the rulebook is well produced and includes a series of training missions to gradually introduce players to the game’s different mechanics. There are also various difficulty levels, to cater for diferent levels of experience (or possibly inebriation). The expansion ‘The New Frontier’ adds new threats, a new (incredibly tough) difficulty level but most importantly, a campaign mode, which gives you experience points, unlocks specialisms and allows you to complete achievements, if you can stay alive long enough, that is. (Andrew Wormald)

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