One of the team recently got his hands on a copy of 'The 7th Continent' by Serious Poulp.
So we got together to explore the mysterious forests and islands of this new continent!
The 7th Continent is a 1-4 player co-op 'choose-your-own-path' exploration and adventure game. What follows is a quick first impression of the game after spending about 3.5 hours with it, playing with a group of 3.
The game features several characters returning to the continent after aprevious expedition. They seek to lift curses placed upon them. The curse you choose sets up the playthrough, with different storylines for each. Over the course of the game the continent is revealed. Players must try to survive whilst exploring, hunting, sneaking, and performing a whole other host of actions.
To do so, players draw cards and attempt to meet criteria based on the number of stars on the cards. Initially, the purple curse cards are ignored. However, the draw pile also acts as a 'life force' of sorts, and once exhausted the discard pile is reshuffled. This forms a new draw pile but the curse cards are now active! Taking a curse card ends the game.
This leads to some interesting decision making. Drawing cards allows you to explore and investigate, and also gives you items and skills, but the more cards you take, the faster the game ends. A balance must be struck between moving forward and stopping to investigate every nook and cranny of the map.
One of the major features of this game is the ability to 'save' mid-adventure, akin to a videogame. This allows the adventure to be picked up again from where it was left off. As playthroughs can take several hours to get through this is a very useful feature!
In our game we reckoned we were a little over halfway through our selected quest, based on the map we had. However later research made us think we may have not been as far through as we thought! Being able to put the game away and pick up again was very neat and the process was reasonably quick and painless. 'Loading' the save game is also reasonably straightforward, although some randomisation creeps in so the continent may not be exactly the same as you left it! This is not a huge issue as you will likely be pressing forward in your expedition, not worrying about where you have already been.
One slight issue is that 'saving' the game like this locks up your game so it's hard to start another playthrough unless you finish or discard your save. It's possible, but it involves copying down codes from various cards then going back through them all when you're ready to play again.
For a quest involving a submarine trip, a suit made of insects, Frankenstein's monster and a useless bamboo snorkel, the game was actually very streamlined. Once we figured out what the symbols on the cards and map meant it was a very straightforward task to make skill checks and progress the story.
Artwork on the cards, especially the map tiles, is fantastic. The flavour text is decent but succinct and cards are generally easy to understand. There are also some small player miniatures and a well designed box which allows organisation of components (a huge board game plus in our books!).
We can only guess what repeated playthroughs will bring but we are very keen to get back on our quest and see if we can make it across the continent to our destination before our luck runs out!
For more info on the game visit the website.