14 February 2022
This article originally appeared in issue 63 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here.
Choose your own path games are fun for a reason – create a sprawling narrative that twists and turns with your own autonomous decisions, what’s not to love? We see it used in numerous games to great effect, and Cartaventura employs the technique nicely. You’ll overturn a card, follow the instructions (whether that’s make a decision, lay out additional cards, or obtain an item), and inevitably overturn another card that will take you down a story from that decision. With five separate endings available, and a grand tale of Vikings at its helm, all of the potential is there with this game… but the storyline lets it down.
The elements really are all there. Mechanically, it works well, the artwork is really nice, and the cards are a great quality. It teaches you how to play within the first few cards in the box, and you’re not just playing from a single hand to another, but also laying out maps, picking up items, and the like. I confess, I really wanted to like this game… But it just doesn’t feel like the story gives everything that it could do. It should be a daring story sailing across Viking territory, exploring the relationship with your god and making your own decisions on your destiny, but it just never gets there. It feels rather dry, without enough tension, the characters aren’t endearing enough for you to hold any concern for them. As a result it felt more mechanical than enjoyable.
For the price, it’s a suitable stocking filler style gift, but perhaps not one to prioritise getting your hands on – with an unusual caveat that should further games of the same style be released, with new storylines, I’d be open to trying again with it. Switch the storyline to a more engaging, less dry narrative, and this could be a total hit.
PLAY IT? No
Designer: Thomas Dupont, Arnaud Ladagnous
Publisher: Hachette Boardgames
Time: 45 minutes
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