13 June 2022
“Once upon a time, she was looking for love. Now she’s looking for lunch!” reads the strapline, an endeavour we can probably all relate to, though hopefully our experiences are less brain-eating and more burger-and-chips eating – though probably still singing it to the tune of Total Eclipse of the Heart. Thankfully, we’re not playing as the Zombie, but instead the chivalrous Knight duty bound to rescue her. At least, until we find out she’s a zombie, where we must high tail it out of there pretty sharpish before she gets to find out whether a brain full of board game knowledge tastes like the cardboard of those games.
The method in which you play is delightfully simple. You need to pick up your escape key from essentially the other side of the board, by building a suitable maze to do so, before then heading back to the maze centre – a cardboard assembly that’s simple but pleasing – to use that key. All the while you’re trying to avoid the princess (lest you become a zombie yourself), by placing and rotating maze tiles. It’s all the better if you can manage to shove some other knights playing with you into her way to slow her down, but that’s only so helpful, as then you have to contend with even more zombies.
It’s a super light game, and one that’s incredibly pleasant to play. Perfectly manoeuvring your path to gain you extra time is extremely satisfying, and in most games the immediate winner wasn’t too quickly clear – it did feel like a race, between both yourself and the other players and away from the zombie herself. Because each round differs, both by when the Zombie Princess takes their turn, and by how much they are able to move, you’re only ever able to plan a few steps in advance, but even that can be totally flummoxed by actions only a turn or two afterwards.
In the core rules, the Zombie Princess is simply a phase. You complete your own actions as players, and then complete the Zombie Princess actions (or vice versa depending on the rolls). Arguably, whilst this is fine, it’s too easy to feel hard done by as the one the Princess persues, and I’m surprised this was the main mode chosen – however, as it works at the wider player count, that’s probably the contributing factor. On first play through, I was surprised to find the Zombie Princess wasn’t a playable character, and it seems the designer thought this too, as the option for it crops up for five player games, with a three line explanation of how to do so at lower player counts (which equates to, one person is the Princess, the rest aren’t, from a three player count up). Immediately, the game became more competitive, more twisty turny, and more interactive too. Whilst the Knights may enjoy racing away from the unpredictable Princess, it’s far more fun to play as one, lulling them into a false sense of security before pouncing and recruiting them to further brains eating.
It’s quirky, light, and has just enough character in its standees to be endearing, making it one to recommend for a lighter evening.
PLAY IT? YES
A little bit puzzly, quite a bit cat and mouse, and altogether satisfying, this amusing game is worth a play.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED Tsuro
Zombie Princess pokes at the map building element of Tsuro, whilst adding in a game of catch with a fun theme.
Designer: Andrew Beardsley
Time: 45-60 minutes
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