12 April 2021
Incredible design from thinking small
You remember that scene at the end of Alien where Ripley blasts the xenomorph out into space? The Wretched is what comes after that and it’s atmospheric, frightening, and downright brilliant.
Using a tumbling block tower, a deck of cards, and a six sided dice, you are tasked with repairing the failing ship and hopefully survive long enough to be rescued. The chances of that happening are minuscule. Like a lot of solo RPG creators, designer Chris Bissette wants you to suffer – in a good way. Letting yourself inhabit the character, really picturing the actions they have to perform as you pull blocks from your ever less steady tower and feeling their fear, regret, and sadness is crucial to the experience. Which The Wretched captures in a clever little way. After each day, you log what happened via video recording or audio recording. You start each log with “Day X, salvage ship The Wretched, Flight Engineer [your name] reporting.” and talk about what you’ve done that day. It’s a great way to bring you into the character and as it’s a solo game, you don’t have to worry about your performance. It’s cool to have this little artefact of your game but the purpose definitely seems more to immerse you in the character and the situation.
The Wretched, like most 'zine games, is light on rules and quick to the point. Of the 16 pages, four are tables (representing the various aspects of the ship, crew, and creature) and the rest are mostly setting the scene. This is a perfect example of the kind of incredible design that can come from limitations and thinking small.
PLAY IT? YES
Designer: Chris Bissette
Publisher: Loot The Room
We also spoke about The Wretched on our Tabletop Gaming Podcast. Listen below to hear Chris' additional thoughts on it - and spoiler alert: They're positive too!
This review originally appeared in Issue 49 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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