With the world in a glass case of emotions during COVID-19 quarantines, ID@Xbox is offering a bit of sunlight in the gloomier times. Available now until July 27, Xbox owners can download more than 70 demos to try up-and-coming indie games. I was able to play some over the past few hours and so far, four absolutely grabbed me and have me waiting for release dates. Check out the four below:
Buy Low, Sell High, and
Cross Your Fingers!
Bicycle, known for their quality playing cards, has begun their venture into the realm of tabletop games. In one of their latest creations, Exchange – A Light Strategy Game by Bicycle, offers a fun bite-sized strategic session that challenges players to anticipate the market as well as their fellow players.
Exchange – A Light Strategy Game by Bicycle is a stock-market simulation strategy game that pits players against each other as well as the market itself. As a securities trader, each player’s goal is to get the largest net worth on Wall Street by the end of the five-round game. Throughout the excursion, players need to carefully choose when to buy, best times to sell, and hope that the market doesn’t crumble before them.
Each player must also choose the founder they want to play as. These founders don’t have any special abilities or counter strategies, but instead give players their starting amounts for Banks, Bonds, Insurance, and Cash. The nice thing about this is that all the founders are actual historical figures (Barclay, Winthrop, etc) who signed the Buttonwood Agreement and eventually started the New York Stock Exchange. This is a wonderful nod for history buffs and can add a nice layer of educational benefits for those interested.
Gameplay for Exchange consists of three phases over five rounds. Players need to first secretly select a security option (insurance, banks, bonds), then decide whether to buy or sell, and lastly choose how to influence the market by raising or lowering the value of a specific security. These are made through cards given at the start of the game and randomly assigned to each player. Choice are all done without other players knowing until all the choices have been made. Secrecy allows for everyone to figure out what kind of strategy they want to employ throughout the round and the entire game. Constantly and aggressively buy everything? Sure. Play it safe and sell for minimal profit? Why not.
Following those phases, a Market Forces Card is revealed, further adjusting the round and adding some minor or major occurrences to impact the prices on the Value Board. The final adjustment occurs, then players can finalize what they buy and what they sell for the round.
As if crafting your own strategy, predicting the market, and envisioning what the other players will do isn’t enough, there are alternate ways to plan for an upper hand. The Lobbyist allows a player to influence the market a second time, further enabling your reach in that round. Or instead, players can pay a nominal fee and see what the next Market Forces Card will be before it is revealed to the other players. Both are powerful abilities that can sway prices, practices, and behaviors.
My favorite part of Exchange was the volatility of the market bubble. One minute, stock prices can be $90 per share, and after one adjustment can plummet to $10. Players’ strategies sometimes go straight out the window, while others celebrate their splendors.
In terms of the play set itself, I was wonderfully impressed by the durability and fine details in each card. The cards, holders, and tokens were fantastically sturdy and could certainly take a beating. Quality was top of the list with Bicycle and it certainly shows!
During this review, I was able to play the game remotely with some friends (though I would not suggest this due to all the secrecy, placards, and strategizing) in all recommended group sizes; a game of 3, of 4, of 5, and of 6 players. Though each game offered a myriad of fun, I would suggest a group of 3 or 4 for players who want to take it slow, while players who want to jump right into the crazy shenanigans with a group of 6. The smaller groups also allow for the market, at least in my experience, to shift less – giving newcomers to acclimate to the game and get their footing with a meaningful strategy and prediction indicators. The larger groups often shifted all three options and requires players to anticipate multiple fronts while choosing what they want to do themselves. Gameplay for the smaller groups ended up being less than 30 minutes, while the larger groups were 30-45 minutes.
Overall: 8 out of 10
Exchange is a great party game that can challenge players to predict and anticipate the flow of the market without the stress of real money. With a quick setup, explanation of rules, and speed, there’s plenty of turnover and variations that can ensue; both for fun and for comical hardship. I can certainly recommend this for your future Game Night and (if you can muster it) future COVID video calls.
This game was provided by the Bicycle Games.
With the announcement of Ms. Marvel joining the playable list of characters in Marvel’s Avengers, Square Enix seems to have finally presented a slew of new information to get more players excited about their upcoming game. During New York Comic Con 2019, I was able to go hands-on with the introductory mission to Marvel’s Avengers. Though I was expecting a lukewarm demo, I was happily impressed by the gameplay mechanics, hints of the future, and ending trailer showcasing more of the game that is to come.
The 1300’s can be a scary time. No electricity, scores of deadly diseases, and religious discourse brewing onto the world. All these troubles are compounded when a paranormal infestation begins to overwhelm the world. A Plague Tale: Innocence crafts a beautiful story into this intriguing world that will capture your attention.
Professor Lupo and His Horrible Pets by BeautiFun Games is a demanding puzzle adventure that challenges players to maneuver through a failing space station that houses some of the strangest and fiersted beasts in the known worlds. Though the story and writing is a trudge, the complexity and mastery of all the puzzle mechanics makes Professor Lupo and His Horrible Pets a great time.
Full Steam Ahead
The SteamWorld series has never been one for complacency. What once started as a tower defense franchise, transformed into a procedurally generated platformer, metamorphosed again into an XCOM-lite adventure, and changed once more into a Metroidvania adventure. This time, SteamWorld Quest wonderfully reinvents the franchise into a turn-based roleplaying card game that’s as fun as it is endearing. Continue reading SteamWorld Quest Review
Pop a Meh-lly
We all sometimes just need an escape from the despair of modern days. Some of us immerse ourselves in virtual reality, others cozy up in an adventurous novel, while some choose to explore an entirely new universe with the aid of a mind-bending elixir. We Happy Few explores the idea of a universal elixir, blinding society from its own destruction and eventual demise. Though the premise presents some engaging moments, most of it is marred by the satisfactory gameplay mechanics, and frustrating technical troubles. Continue reading We Happy Few Review
FIGHT THE RAINBOW
Runbow, developed by 13AM Games and Headup, is a chaotic, fast-paced, and fun platform-brawler with a colorful assortment of shenanigans. With the varied game modes, and multitude of customization, Runbow is the ideal party game that will encourage everyone to engage in the festivities. Continue reading Runbow Review