In the coming weeks I’ll dig out some of the other dungeon games I’ve got to see how they compare. For now though, I’m still Unbroken.
I’ve probably played over two dozen games so far, all bar one on hard mode. Of those I’ve won only five. But I have won.
Those wins have been with all four heroes, and against four of the six level four monsters (I’ve beaten the Ogre twice). I’ve fought all 24 monsters in the game at some point, and look forward to not meeting some of them very much more than others.
Am I still happy playing it? Yes, and I’ll be keeping it. Having experimented with the various heroes and different strategies, I’ve not yet solved it. I did work out how to use the huntress though, after thinking more carefully about how to get the best of her abilities. She’s pretty effective now I know what I’m doing with her.
Note that I say “her” when I refer to the Huntress. Each of the four hero cards has a male and a female side with identical rules, but I only ever use one side of each. I think it’s because that’s the side I prefer the art for. If you’re interested, for me it’s the male Brawler and Sneak, and female Huntress and Sage. I’m not sharing things out evenly – it’s just how it looks to me.
After all these games, what can I say apart from the game is great value for money and has a lot of legs? Well, like most games, it’s not without its faults. So where do I think it could be improved?
Combat is a combination of deterministic attacks (mostly the player), and random results (the monster). This means that you can sometimes see at the start of a fight that you aren’t going to win. This is a mild case of the problem I found hugely offputting with One Deck Dungeon. It feels much less of an issue here because it’s not always as cut and dried and you can almost always tell that you’re in that much trouble before you get to the fight. You can see what potential damage output you have, and if you’ve been collecting the wrong things then you could set yourself up for failure really easily. The resource economy has no wriggle room for wasting your time on random stuff. You need to stay focussed. And be a little lucky at times. In the end, I think that’s a good thing rather than a bad one. Here, if I end up in a fight that I can’t win, I can usually track that back to some poor decisions on my part rather than something the game randomly threw at me.
Sometimes though, these seemingly desperate or impossible battles can be the most engaging. I fought against the Abomination earlier today, and that scrap would have been my last were it not for the monster’s ability to harm itself. It certainly looked an unlikely win, but in the spirit of the game I fought on regardless. In the end, its bizarre nature allowed me to scrape a victory against it with only 2 “life” remaining. Hard to pull yourself up after that, but possible. In that case, I beat the next monster, and only failed at the final hurdle. Close though.
In general, I’m not a huge fan of deterministic games because of this predictability, but it works here most of the time. A minor con.
Some folk would consider the variation in lethality of the monsters to be a con. I’m not sure it is, and perhaps it’s worth engineering in as a concept just for the drama you get rolling for who you fight each level. Certainly, I’d rather not be fighting critters who dump loads of conditions on me to suffer through in the next level. And there are those who mess with you in the moment too. The Dark Elf’s infliction of Amnesia (you can’t use any skills against him) can be particularly crippling. I’d rather have an opponent who just had lots of wounds than someone who was easier to kill but crippled me for later. But you may see things differently.
While I’m talking about conditions, I think that they’re one of the most impactful aspects of the game. Several times I’ve lost a game because of one or other of those lingering problems. Sure, it’s bad facing the immediate issues of the wyvern’s poison or basilisk’s petrifying stare (I have killed both of them though), but what’s more crippling in the long run is Weakened reducing all your damage, or Cursed making all your actions cost loads more. I’m not saying they’re broken, they’re not; just that you need to be really aware of what they can do and, if possible, avoid them. There is one beneficial condition: armoured. That’s awesome, and is possibly the only card I always choose over its alternative.
So this game has kept me amused for a couple of dozen plays so far and I’m going to be trying some other dungeon games next to compare. This is unlikely to be the last time I play Unbroken though. Apart from anything else, an expansion is in the works. I’ve not looked at what’s being added because it will be a fun surprise. What would be the obvious areas to expand though?
There’s endless room to add whole new sections to the game to expand the scope, but if we assume that they stick within the current framework there are some easy wins in adding more to some of the card decks.
A fifth level of monster would be an insanely hard option, but a fitting one. That would also entail giving you rewards for the existing level fours (which I felt like they should have done anyway), but that just means replacing those cards so would be simple in production terms.
I’d like to see some more heroes with new combinations of abilities. That’s probably the biggest bang for your buck in terms of adding extra game play with a card or two. It also allows you to expand the story and the world.
We probably don’t need more encounter cards as the deck is already huge, and the same goes for skills and conditions. That framework of core mechanics is already well fleshed out. So, they’ll probably add something entirely new, which will be interesting. In the end, Unbroken doesn’t really need expanding. It works fine as it is. But gamers are gamers, and the new and shiny has an undeniable attraction. So, when this expansion comes out, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll be getting it.