A perfect balancing act
Big Potato’s first real foray into the world of hobby games, and adventure games, contains every bit as much of the company’s character as you’d expect. It’s silly, funny, and worth having a party for. Inside a beautiful box are three adventures, some plastic pieces of three varieties, a kind of tabletop shuffleboard, and three adventures, individually packaged up.
The mechanics of the game are straightforward – it wouldn’t be a Big Potato game if you couldn’t learn it in five minutes after all – turn a card from the adventure, read it out and choose your own path at the bottom of the card. Unless the narrative is broken up with an event symbol (or you choose one), in which case, it’s challenge time. This can be one of the three standard games, which are puck push (flick a puck up the board, landing it in the designated area), item search (find the right shaped pieces in the bag to match those on the card) or shape sort (arrange fragments to make a matching shape on the card), or a mini game. These mini games can literally be anything you can think of with a card and the various things in the box – you might have to pass a card around your body while balancing a peril piece on it, have someone else throw a card towards you for you to bat it away with one hand, or drop it perfectly through a circle made with someone else’s fingers and thumbs from a height.
And finally, when the turn timer ticks toward the ‘night’ turn, players flip the deck entirely, providing them with trickier challenges, different options, and usually, pieces of peril. These funny shaped bits of plastic are used to stack up a tower of peril – added to each time you spot a skull on the cards. This is how things can all go wrong, as when you knock this over, it’s game over.
What Next? is entirely the sum of its parts, the writing is hilarious (you’ll only feel wry, clever and funny reading the cards to the group unlike some co-op adventure games), the challenges are great, and there’s a real sense of tension every time a piece of peril is added to the tower.
We were a little surprised about how easy the game was for more experienced gamers, expecting a ‘proper’ challenge in the hardest box, and finding ourselves able to breeze through a lot of it. This might be because the game simply gets easier at higher player counts – as other games were quickly cut short at lower, clumsier numbers. The first point of discussion after is whether there will be expansion boxes, new adventure decks to bolt on to this series, and it would be a shame if Big Potato didn’t follow up in this way. We’d like to see some truly difficult choices and challenges, and just more of these jolly stories.
That’s not to say there isn’t variety, we didn’t even touch some of the paths, and the flipped and more dangerous dark side of the deck is only ever be touched on every forth move, so there’s more to unlock.
And this is less a complaint about the game and more just an expression of how much we enjoyed anyway. Everything about it is elegantly put together – and we cannot stress enough how good the writing is for setting the tone – even if it’s a bit inelegant to rise like a leaping salmon to catch a card from the air.
Christopher John Eggett
PLAY IT? YES
Nearly perfectly formed, you can bring a taste of big adventures to any table with What Next?
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED: Escape the Dark Castle…
Enjoyed a bit of storytelling with a whole lot of peril? Here’s the rainbow-washed counterpart to Themeborne’s black and white dungeon death sim.
Designer: Big Potato
Publisher: Big Potato
Time: 30-50 minutes
What’s in the box?
- 238 Cards
- 12 Peril pieces
- 12 Shape build pieces
- 16 Item search pieces
- 3 Time dials
- Puck push board
This article originally appeared in issue 58 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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