18 June 2023
Look how they shine for you
When I first picked up Look at the Stars, a slight flutter of anger arose as Coldplay lyrics materialised inside my head. Thankfully, the gentle puzzle soon to unfold across the game’s lovely monochrome boards provided just the antidote for such a malady.
In this stargazing flip and write, one to eight players gather to document the night’s constellations before dawn breaks. Equipped with a dry-erase board and a pen, players will flip a card and draw the depicted lines in any orientation they choose as they attempt to create or expand constellations.
Each constellation scores a number of points equal to the number of lines it’s composed of, with any adjacent planets and the odd shooting star scoring too. But there’s a couple of twists: Firstly, players will be racing against the dawn, with sections of their boards becoming blocked off after the first two of the games three rounds. Secondly, only constellations composed of a unique amount of lines will score - any repeats are simply ignored. Consequently, players are pressured to quickly populate the lower portions of their boards whilst being mindful of where they place new lines, and forward thinking in regard to the spaces they don’t.
Throughout the night, players can also attempt to match the shapes illustrated on a pair of bonus cards. Doing so will earn players more points or the opportunity to perform special actions, ranging from adding a single line or drawing various celestial objects scoring in unique ways.
In play, Look at the Stars feels a lot like classic roll and write Railroad Ink, albeit revolving around the development of constellations instead of routes. But, whilst I’ve always considered Railroad Ink to be one of the more approachable titles in the genre, it turns out that Look at the Stars’ freeform approach to sky mapping feels more immediately relatable and relaxing than the comparatively meticulous civil engineering of the former’s rails and roads. Thanks to how it’s mechanical simplicity weaves effortlessly into this intrinsically familiar theme, players of all abilities should be able to dive into the game, free from the trepidation that even the most popular gateway games can occasionally provoke.
The overall aesthetic upholds this approachability with a stark boldness similar to Bombyx’s 2021 game Glow. The unique cultures illustrated across the bottom of each personal board are a nice touch, and the final effect, once the sky has been crisscrossed with white dry-erase marker, is pleasing. The cards, whilst simple, are embossed on their reverse with glittering gold stars and housed in their own illustrated tuck box - another little touch which helps to subtly elevate the experience.
Stargazing is often a solitary, contemplative pastime, and perhaps detrimentally, this is mirrored here. It’s a criticism that could be aimed at countless other games in the genre, but Look at the Stars quite simply features no interaction between players. Furthermore, whilst I’ve praised its approachability, some gamers may find the game too simple or lacking longevity. There are a number of interchangeable bonus cards in the box (two will be used each game), but they more or less function similarly.
Eventually – once Chris Martin stopped harassing my brain every time “I drew a line” between stars – Look at the Stars began to work its relaxing magic. Simple, quick, pretty, and somewhat antisocial. That suits me just fine.
PLAY IT? YES
A flip and write game for everyone, though perhaps lacking complexity for seasoned gamers.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED RAILROAD INK
Both are handsomely produced, laid back drawing games, perfect for a leisurely game night.
Designer: Romain Caterdjian
Time: 20 minutes
What’s in the box?
- 8 Dry erase night sky boards
- 30 Night cards
- 19 Bonus cards
- 8 Dry erase markers
- 8 Wipes
Looking for more?
Find reviews, news, and features in Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.Get your magazine here
A game that hooked a thousand gamers, it's 40 years of Fighting Fantasy! We take a look back at some of the titles and that changed a generation of gaming, and how it became the behemoth it remains.40 Years of Fighting Fantasy
Sign up to be in the know
Be the first to hear about the things we're excited about, whether that's new games and launches, our own magazine, gaming news and interviews or a few surprises, you'll be the first we tell if you sign up to our newsletter.Sign up here
Have you visited our game store? We have everything from mystery boxes, to games and accessories, so you're bound to find your newest favourite. Head over there now to claim it for yourself!Visit the Game Store
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products