I managed to get another quick-to-the-table game in last night. I figure that I should ease into this solo gaming experience. And with that, I played a round of Escape the Dark Castle
(if you haven't seen the commercial they made for the KS, go watch it.
The game is essentially a love letter to the fantasy game books of the 1980s, both in style and structure. Here's the game all setup:
You always play with two characters and each has their own set of skills, represented on special dice unique to each. You're prisoners that are trying to escape, so the general theme is you roaming around and having random encounters as you try to get out. The top left is the cover card, the center is the boss card, and the stack of 15 cards all the way to the right (with the matte black back) represents the actual adventure. Those 15 are randomly selected form a pool of 45 and the boss is randomly pulled out of a pile of three.
All you do then is stack the adventure chapters on top of the boss card, add the cover card and flip each over like the pages of a book.
I wanted to capture the art more than the writing, but each card has a description and then some type of choice. Usually it will involve checking a skill or meeting some type of challenge and then depending on how that works out, you might lose health or gain an item. After you move through the 15 adventure cards, you then fight the boss and if you win, escape. I didn't, but it was close - missed it by a single die roll. Each character has a unique set of stats, represented by each side of the die (labeled for each character). So (ideally) you select characters that balance each other out, or you can just randomly select them too.
So with that, it's probably not a game for everyone (particularly those that wouldn't even consider it a game). It does play fast (~30 minutes) and I love the art and how much it reminds me of being a kid and playing through those game books. I think the biggest knocks are going to be the likely repetition of events. With 45 cards in the pool and using 15 each time, there's bound to be overlap. From the core box you have some additional variation then in the characters you'd choose as well as that final unknown boss. There's an expansion out now that includes another 15 chapter cards, more characters and another boss, so that's a bit more variation. Starting on 6/1, they're launching another KS to publish three more expansions, which I think is a great idea as each one of those adds another 15 cards, some new mechanics and a few new characters.
While I enjoyed this solo, I do think it would work well with 2 to 3 others as a lite filler game, simply because of that RPG theme and how fast it plays. But in terms of setup and play, it's absolutely something you can get through in 30 minutes (or less).