30 September 2022
In space everyone is only out for themselves. Or at least, that’s what Escape Pods teaches us, as it tasks players to evacuate their own crew from spaceship to nearby asteroids. The spaces on the escape pods are limited and although sometimes players will have to cooperate, as one pod may contain both of their crews, most of the time they will want to kick the opposing team out and have the whole ship for themselves. They will also want to get to the refugee camps on the asteroids first to occupy spots corresponding to their roles for extra victory points at the end of the game. However, as the crews of all teams are making their way through space, debris will appear and block their way. Once all the routes are closed off, the game ends.
In Escape Pods you want to send your crew to safety, but you also want to keep some behind because you will need them to perform actions. This means that at the beginning of the game, with the board empty of debris and all crew at your disposal, you have ample choice of what to do. Yet, as the crew make their way to safety and routes become more blocked, players’ options grow fewer, and they must be more careful with their decisions. It makes for a more challenging gameplay but also slows down the game significantly, making the end of the game less of a race and more of a crawl. The choices also become so narrow there are only one or two viable actions each turn, so the tension dwindles as well.
It is a shame because Escape Pods starts strong with an interesting premise and good player interaction, but by the end slows down too much, failing to sustain the initial excitement level of its gameplay.
PLAY IT? MAYBE
Designer: Linus Garriga
Publisher: 2Tomatoes Games
Time: 20 - 30 minutes
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