1 player, Solo Game, Resource Management
Designer: Artem Safarov
Artwork: Jacob Atienza
Publisher: Altema Games
Overview of Gameplay
Unbroken is a pretty simple solo experience that you can whip out as a filler game or if you want to challenge yourself one evening for about 30 minutes. You choose one of four different characters to play as each with different abilities, then you start equipping yourself in preparation for the boss battles to come. To do this you will be drawing from a stack of Encounter cards, usually two at a time and picking one to “encounter”. These always have to do with managing your large variety of resources in one way or another. For example one card could have “Gain 2 wood/Lose 4 Effort” and additionally there will be a time cost associated with these cards as well. So every time you “encounter” you will drop your time cube down a few notches and then raise and lower some other resource.
Ultimately you will continue to do this until you are satisfied with your accumulated resources and then attack the boss. For the boss fight you will roll the included die and then draw the card corresponding to the number you rolled. After you face the first one and defeat it, you gain more resources and a skill card that improves your abilities in some way and then set the time cube a bit higher on the track and do it all again. This will be the first of a total of 4 different bosses that get stronger with each new one you face. If you are able to make it through and beat all four bosses you win!
The components are pretty good overall. The cards have a nice finish to them but at the same time are pretty thin and slide all over the place. The colored wooden cubes are pretty standard as far as wooden cubes go and the oversized custom die is pretty great. The standout here are the two double layer resource management mats. These are nice/not great. I love how they are double layered but there were some real misses here when it comes to design and quality. First for setup there are a couple “easy” setup cards but whoa boy the wall of tiny text on these cards is daunting. It would have been nice if they would have color coded the spots for first time setup on the mats. Like where the cube starts on the “Effort” space and “Time” space. The time spaces are marked with slashes so that’s nice at least. Also the boards do feel a little cheap and are very bland looking, just a lot of black with the symbols of the resources. There is also a little felt bag that is basically useless, I mean it’s nice but serves zero gameplay function. One thing I really like are the two game round cards that walk you through each game round with a flowchart. There is also a little wooden fox face token that you can use to mark your progress. This was SUPER handy when learning the game however once you get it down you likely won’t ever use it again. One other thing to note, there are a plethora of “do it yourself” cards included. Cards that are all formatted to look like the other cards in the game but are blanked out so you can print your own cards or monsters etc. I personally will never use these but it’s nice to have for those who will.
The box is super tiny and just barely fits everything but it does fit! There really isn’t much to say other than that. This little creature can easily be picked up and brought with you on trips, to the bathroom, the kitchen, wherever you desire to play. I still highly recommend a table though as there are a few decks that you draw from. You will want to bag up your cards though and CAN use the felt bag for that if you desire. I tossed the wooden bits into the bag and just used regular bags for the cards myself.
Visual Appeal /Theme
Love the artwork here. Everything looks dark and foreboding and was really impressed with the variety of images on the MANY different encounter cards. Found myself really investigating the artwork on the encounter cards more than anything else. To be honest the only thing in the entire game that comes across as bland are the plain black resource boards. The theme is pretty great as well if you enjoy dungeon-y monster fighting. There is a bit of a story hidden in the encounter cards the first time you play if you don’t shuffle them, of course I totally missed that bit but at the same time I was trying to learn the game so didn’t really focus on any hidden story element either.
The rulebook is ok. Seems to explain way more than it needs to whereas I learned the game much easier/better via the two flowchart cards. The rulebook is more a reference book for the small details although it’s not always easy to find what you’re looking for either.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
As it’s a solo game you won’t be jabbering across the table to another player but feel free to mutter to yourself as the 4th boss slaughters you for the 18th time. I had quite a bit of fun the first three games I played. The first game was a learning experience, I lost at the 4th boss. The second game I had a good grasp on the rules and lost at a different 4th boss. The third game I didn’t even use the flowchart help card and really focused on a strategy to try and survive the 4th boss. I failed. By the fourth game I was kinda over it. I flipped through all the different boss cards to peruse them and they all looked interesting and cool. But there is SUCH a massive difficulty spike between the 3rd and 4th final boss it’s crazy. I am blazing through the first three with ease and then hitting a brick wall on the last one.
And at first I figured I just needed to gather MORE resources, upgrade my gear better….but…..the randomness of the encounter card draws basically dictates what you can and cannot do and combine that with the randomness of whatever boss you might draw to fight. Now there are ways to mitigate almost everything, like you can spend resources and time to view the boss you will fight to better prepare and you can spend resources and time to view MORE encounter cards the next round instead of just two. BUT to do these things you are spending your precious resources and time……which you NEED if you have any hope of killing the last boss. Not to say it’s impossible, I got really close the last time but man does it ramp up on that last boss.
This one is limited. It seems like the game has a ton of replayability right out of the box. I mean there are six completely different monsters for each level of four levels and you will only fight one of each during each game. So right there is a pretty massive amount of replayabilty and there are a TON of encounter cards to draw from and more than likely you won’t even get through all those in a single game. There are four different playable characters to choose from and a variety of skills, weapons that can be upgraded and health conditions that can be applied. So why does the game feel kinda samey after four plays?
Well you are basically doing the exact same thing every game and every round. Drawing encounter cards, moving your cubes, rinse and repeat. So after awhile you start seeing the rewards on the boss cards and thinking, “meh, just more cube movement”. It’s pretty exciting trying to work towards getting the resources to upgrade your weapons but even then, the upgraded weapons just allow you to move LESS cubes when attacking. Perhaps I’m devolving this game too much here but after four games I’m just not thrilled to play again but still kinda want to just to try and beat that 4th boss. I’m afraid after I FINALLY defeat the final boss I won’t ever want to bring the game out again though.
Positive Final Thoughts
The artwork is great and the dark theme is fun. I like how it’s made JUST for the solo community and it has some interesting choices and if you are one that enjoys resource management that is also pretty random then you might enjoy this one.
Negative Final Thoughts
The game gets dull very quickly and the difficulty ramps up to titanium wall levels when facing the 4th and final boss. The resource management is also super random based on card draws and usually always at a cost of other resources. I want to play again just to try and beat that last boss but once it finally happens, I doubt I’ll want to play again.