What's Eric Playing?: Week of February 04, 2019
More previews and reviews! This week we’re starting with a new Kickstarter game and then kicking off a month of EXIT game reviews! As always, click on the header to read the full review.
Overall, I’ve had fun with Fry Thief. I’ll generally give it points for being fast and having some solid art and a cute theme. Plus, light asymmetry in games is always a cool effect. My major gripes are the occasionally underwhelming turns; you almost want every turn to count or cause something to happen rather than just being about blocking someone or countering their block (a similar thing I noticed in Terrible Monster, though it’s less rooted into the game in Fry Thief). Those concerns aren’t the worst thing, though; the game plays quickly enough and is ultimately amusing, even if you do lose. I see this going over great as a family game while you’re trying to warm people up to microgames, especially if you’re playing with your kids (even moreso if you’re playing with your kids and stealing their fries; a tactic I completely endorse). Either way, if you’re looking for a cute little microgame with some asymmetric components (and split cards, which I always like), Fry Thief might be worth checking out!
Overall, The Stars Align is pretty good! I wouldn’t call it my favorite abstract strategy game, but it’s got a couple things going for it — it’s a very quick spatial game and it doesn’t take much to get started. That’s a pretty strong argument in its favor, especially when you’re packing for a trip or looking for a light game to play between games or in line at a con or something. The nice thing is that if they want to expand it, there are plenty of ways to do so — bigger boards, new rules, new cards, new piece types; it’s kind of wide open for that sort of thing. Even if they don’t, though, Breaking Games has a fun little two-player abstract, here. If you’re looking for a quick, spatial abstract and you want to catch some shooting stars, The Stars Align is not a bad choice!
Overall, That’s Not Lemonade is a cute, light little game. It’s essentially a kid-friendly drinking game (or as friendly as drinking, well, you know can be), which gives it a lot of opportunity for play at various family events, provided that your group is okay with the EXTREMELY mild toilet humor at play, here. If not, well, I don’t know what to tell you. As far as the game goes, it’s light, fun, and pleasant for sure, but I’d probably end up playing Push if I wanted a serious press-your-luck game of a similar weight, whereas this one is much more equipped for a good laugh. That’s not necessarily the fault of the game; I just don’t feel it was designed to carry a lot more than it does, and that’s fine. Art-wise, it’s super good and I’d highly recommend it. I think I just wish that it had something to excite me a bit more than “draw a card from the deck and hope it’s not bad”. That said, the act of doing so is fundamentally very funny and fun, so, we arrive at about this score in my books. If you’re looking for a family-friendly press-your-luck game and you’re not afraid to get a bit silly; That’s Not Lemonade might be worth checking out! It’s definitely cute.
Alright, this is it. It’s my favorite one. I’m pretty sure. I loved the theme, I loved the ambitious twist on the classic formula, and I genuinely think it landed it. This was a delight to play, a delight to show my friends, and I’m glad we played it at four people because I think I made two more EXIT fans that day. Don’t get me wrong; the whole series is GREAT and you basically can’t go wrong with any of them (except maybe The Sinister Mansion, but it was still fine), but I really liked the direction they went with this one. I mentioned it elsewhere in the review, but I really hope this is the direction they’re taking the EXIT series in the future (or at least one of multiple directions); the narrative elements and the mystery solving was reminiscent of old video games I played growing up, and the nostalgia was really rewarding, for me. Sure, it didn’t feel as escape room-y, which might be a drawback for some people, but we instead got something that was a lot more experiential, which I think is a step up. Like I said, I’d really love if they split the series and made EXIT games and, like, EXIT Mysteries, but at the very least I’m very satisfied with the experience I got from Dead Man on the Orient Express. It’s not the one I’d recommend starting with, but it was definitely the one that I think I’ve enjoyed the most. If you’re looking for an EXIT game that’s a bit different than the rest, I’d definitely recommend checking this one out!