Review – Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space by Cranio Creations, designed by Mario Porpora, Pietro Righi Riva, Luca Francesco Rossi and Nicolo Tedeschi
Note – A review copy of this game was provided by Cranio Creations
I seem to remember that the strap line for the film Aliens claimed, “in space, no one can hear you scream”. Or at least it was something close to that… Well, Cranio Creations aims to have you put this to the test in its game, Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space, a game for 2-8 players age 13+.
The stage is set on a space ship that has human characters trying to escape from hungry aliens. The players have 1 or 2 objectives essentially. For the humans, it is get out of there! Or else, you will be the main course on the aliens’ menu! For the aliens, it is trying to catch the humans before they escape or before time runs out. Very straightforward. But this is not a typical board game where you can see everything. In fact, it is more a card driven game and the board is replaced with sheets for each player showing a map grid of a particular part of the spaceship which have coordinates where you plot your movement.
The components are rather basic but effective. The game comes with a set of grid maps to track movement along with pencils. The maps are clearly laid out in hexagons with coordinates along with starting locations for human and alien as well as secure and not secure areas and finally escape hatch locations. The cards have nicely drawn images that represent movement and associated sounds that you make or bluff with, as well as escape hatches, characters and items you can collect and use (only if you are a human). The artwork is very nicely done by Giulia Ghigini and stylized to fit the horror sci-fi theme. The rules are simple and laid out well and include optional rules and scenarios. What’s more, in a stroke of genius, Cranio Creations provide online support on their website where you can download maps and create new maps and scenarios which gives this game a lot of variety and longer shelf life.
This is essentially a game of hide-and-seek, or cat-and-mouse. The players begin by choosing a character card randomly and secretly to establish whether they are an alien (hungry) or a human (dinner).
Depending on which you choose, you will have a starting sector which is clearly marked on the map. From the starting sector, you then start plotting your moves of one sector per turn for the humans and 2 sectors for the aliens. If you end your turn in a secure sector (there aren’t too many), you end your turn. If you end your turn in a non-secure sector, you then draw a Dangerous Sector card without revealing it and these will mean you have to state aloud that there is a noise in the sector you are in or in another sector of your choice to bluff your opponents (in either case, you just state the coordinates so no one absolutely knows where you are). The humans then move to the escape hatches to escape and the aliens try and track them down. Once a hatch is used, it is no longer usable which makes it tougher for the other humans. The players are not allowed to reveal their character but as the pressure grows and mad dashes to the hatches start to happen, the aliens will attempt to attack supposed target sectors hoping to find a tasty human and it becomes obvious who is human and who is alien. But it doesn’t matter as there are no easy ways to track down human meat.
The challenge for the aliens is significant. If the humans use a combination of secure sectors and bluffing sounds, the aliens will have their work cut out for them. The advanced games rules add items that the human can use to aid in their escape attempt. It also adds hatch cards which could mean that when a human attempts to escape, they will discover a faulty hatch! The game also comes with a few scenarios to change things up.
In addition, Cranio Creations, in a stroke of genius, supports the game with a website where you can download maps, create new maps and create scenarios so there is potential for plenty of variety and long shelf life.
Did it work for me?
Escape from the aliens in Outer Space is a fun, relatively fast game. It can be frustrating for the aliens but that’s part of the game. The system is simple and plays fast and it has a tense atmosphere of sounds in a spooky spaceship which may or may not be good leads. Don’t let the “cheap and cheerful” components fool you. The gameplay works well and the variety and re-playability is a real plus. Having said that, I would have preferred more colorful maps but it does mean it is cheaper to print them. I also think that perhaps a deluxe version with larger game maps, maybe double-sided, and counters where you mark the last known presence of characters could be cool. But as it stands, this is good atmospheric fun. Nice to see something different in a game.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6 out of 10
Yeah I think so but for older children who have the patience to work with the coordinate notation and planning.
For more information about Cranio Creations, go to – http://www.craniocreations.com/IndexENG.html