Before I begin, I was sent a prototype of the game, and may receive a production copy if the game funds, in exchange for an honest preview. This is not a paid preview. If you would rather check out a video of this review you can check it out below. Get your own copy here.
Oh look. Hungry Gamer is reviewing another fantasy adventure game. Shocking. This is actually the thought I had when I initially got the email inquiring about doing a preview for ThreeTale. However, for once, I actually decided that I needed to be more discerning in my selections of fantasy games. So this time I, gulp, read the rules first.
Amazing, right? So in this case I said yes to it because of the overarching format of the game. The entire game is broken into 3 different phases: past, present, and future; each of these phases are distinctly different. Combine that with an interesting leveling up system I was sold.
During the past phase players will take turns laying tiles out on the board, and then moving around on them collecting power ups, opening treasure chests, and battling monsters. Once all the tiles are out on the board you will enter the present, which is an interlude where you are able to reorder your player order if you like. Then you enter the future which is where you will rearrange some of the features on the board as you enter the final confrontation.
While every past phase is similar, each of the future phases is completely different. In the one pictured above you must battle incredibly challenging monsters to collect magic rings, which you place in the fountain, all the while earning buffs from nymphs and witches about the board, that are unique to this scenario.
Each of the scenarios has a unique win condition, and unique features that get placed on the board. Win or lose, at the end of the game you will total up your points and see how you did, obviously winning the scenario rewards you with a large point boost.
So what do I think?
I really enjoy the past phase, despite its similarity each time you play it, it is highly enjoyable to build the world up, and find the most clever way to buff your characters, deciding where to spend your virtue upgrades, and when to risk combat is a fun puzzle. I also really appreciate how each of the six core virtues has a very obvious benefit, be it more dice in combat, earning auto hits, buffing yourself or your allies, etc. This is perhaps the strongest part of the game.
I like the dark aesthetic of the game, the art where bits of bright color pop through is just stunning. However, you might not like the darkness of most of the art, and there are a couple odd choices with the art in places.
This is a long game. There is not way around it. You will be playing 2-3 hours every time you play. Yes, you can break it up into multiple sessions fairly easily, but it is just a long game. I also wonder if you will not eventually find the past to be a bit rinse and repeat like, and if there is not a best way to build characters during the past.
Bringing it all together
ThreeTale is a unique adventure game, one that I have nothing similar to on my shelf. Though a long game, each of the three phases plays cleanly and differently. The leveling up mechanism is a delight, though it is possible that there is a best path towards doing this during the past. Each of the different scenarios play similarly enough to keep from becoming a rules overload, but differently enough to keep them from feeling repetitive. This is a game that does a lot of very interesting things, that is certainly worth a look.
The game is called ThreeTale, not Three Zillion Words
* Unique game play, unlike any adventure game I have played
* Cool leveling mechanism
* The early phase building the board is delightful
* The game is quite long
* You might find there are best paths to take in the early game