Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Monday, 10 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Undo: Cherry Blossom Festival

Game: Undo: Cherry Blossom Festival

Publisher: Pegasus Spiele

Designer: Michael Palm, Lukas Zach

Year: 2019


Undo is a new series of games from Pegasus Spiele in which you are travelling back in time to try and reverse the decisions that lead to the death of the main character. The first three games in the series will be released at Origins game fair, but there was a small pre-release at the UK Games Expo and we picked up the first of the series - Undo: Cherry Blossom Festival.

2-6 players play cooperatively as fate weavers, revealing key moments in the character's life and trying to make decisions that change the course of history. The games are non-destructive, but once you've played the game once you'll at least want to wait a long time and forget the story before you play again. Having been compared to T.I.M.E. Stories mixed with an escape room, there is a lot of promise with Undo, so let's dive into our SPOILER FREE review.


Gameplay

Undo is a game without an instruction manual, the first half-dozen cards you draw will guide you through how to play the game. In essence most of the larger cards will be splayed out, face down, into a timeline of events. You can travel to any of these events by spending a time card to flip the card over. The front of each card will give you a little bit of story about what is going on and then present you with a choice. Depending on the option you pick you will draw the relevant small card which will either reward you a couple of points, do nothing, or subtract a couple of points. If you aren't sure what to do you can always spend a clue card (of which you have limited numbers) to turn over the related clue, hopefully revealing a bit more story to help guide your choice.


The goal in a game of Undo is to prevent a death, so it's important to remember you are trying to change the events of the past. Simply working out what did happen is not enough, you then need to work out what would change that event, and for the better. A lot of the game is discussing with other players your theories on what happened and why. At the end of the game (when you run out of time cards) you will look up your score on a chart to see how your actions affected the outcome. The game then has a handful of cards which explain the story in full, should you wish to know the official events.


Amy’s Final thoughts

Undo is unlike most games of it type. It's not an escape room game, there are no puzzles that require you to think outside of a box. There is simply a story, with a tragic end. You have to work out what that story is, and how to prevent it. The concept is simple, the gameplay is simple, but working out the story is not. Early on you are often left with barely a concept of what the story is like and it's easy to make mistakes which are obvious if you knew the whole story. To make up an example, you may pick a card early on that involves a person downloading an app on their phone, and lose points for doing so. Later you choose an card earlier in the timeline to be given a choice to forget to charge their phone overnight, which rewards positive points because ultimately it prevents the future event. Once you have the knowledge that using the phone was bad, you were able to make a future choice to prevent that and thus the story evolves in a fluid way based on your actions and your choices.

Of course the game is not repeatable, and while you won't see all the events in one playthrough you will see the majority, which means if you tried to play again you'd most likely remember the correct decisions. While this might be fun if you lost the first time and wanted a better go of it, there isn't much to return to. The game was also rather quick, though this may be a side effect of playing with 2 people (one of whom isn't hugely know for getting invested in stories). Fortunately then, the games are cheap and there are already 3 to sink your teeth into.

Ultimately Undo does a great job of telling a story in an unusual, and interesting way. However it's questionable if it really counts as a game, or rather some kind of choose your own adventure book that has been deconstructed. I was impressed by the way the story evolved as we played, with logical leaps being made to fill in the gaps. While we weren't entirely correct in our assumptions, we were close enough to be able to help consistently which resulted in a rather convincing win. In my mind Undo is a perfect game to play with a handful of non-gamers, people who will enjoy the experience and discussion of the story, without being disappointed by the shallow game mechanics.


Fi’s Final Thoughts

Undo is certainly one of the better story driven games I've played. Story really isn't my thing in games and mechanically there is very little going on in Undo, but the short play time and limited discussion around the table with two players only, meant that it was an experience I enjoyed. It certainly felt more like an experience than a game though.

There are not many decisions in the game - you choose where to go next and then choose one of three options, which results in you getting positive or negative points towards your final score. No decision that you make in the game affects the rest of the game and so it feels like quite a basic and linear construct and at times the story can slightly fall apart because you've already altered something that would technically effect the card text on another card.

I liked the logical decisions we were making and the story that we were constructing for ourselves. Ultimately we won quite convincingly and our story was almost correct, besides a little bit of incorrect assumptions about the character's early life. You really had to get your head into the right mindset to figure out what the story you have woven means is the likely thing that did happen and then choose the most opposite as you answer for each card.


If you like Chronicles of Crime, then you'll certainly find Undo to be similar, but perhaps underwhelming because of the lack of connectivity between your actions. On the surface, Undo seems to be targeting a choose your own adventure crowd, but even then, there is no alteration in path based on your actions. I think Undo might underwhelm those looking for a truly user impacted story, but it's nevertheless not a bad experience.


You Might Like...
  • Attention to detail is key to picking up on cues with the story.
  • The game can be very cooperative and is more of a shared experience around the table with friends. It would suit groups who enjoy murder mystery experiences, but with a shorter timeframe and no need for roleplaying.
  • Undo is good value and non-destructive for sharing around your game group.
You Might Not Like...
  • There is not a lot of depth to Undo in terms of the puzzle, mechanisms or story.
  • It's a very basic set of components, with no real artwork, just card text.
  • The theme may be a trigger for some people.

The Verdict
6/10 For a simple, short, story driven experience, Undo works. Depending how much table talk your group likes, it can take as little as 20-30 minutes to prevent the death of the main character. There's no huge puzzle, just a series of gut decisions that are interesting to speculate around. It's fun to unravel the story, but there's nothing much more in terms of puzzle or mechanical aspects for us to get super excited about this series.


Undo: Cherry Blossom Festival was a review copy kindly provided to us by Pegasus Spiele.

No comments:

Post a comment