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“Escape From Sunset Island”

“After the zombie apocalypse swept through civilization, Sunset Island remained one of the last uninfected human settlements, until now.” What happened?! Why is there a zombie on sunset island now?! Who cares… that’s a frackin’ zombie. Just GO!

On the verge of Halloween we were tipped off to a local Kickstarter campaign for the zombie apocalypse simulator Escape from Sunset Island.  Since it’s local and for the last decade or so I’ve had a near obsession with zombies I had to check it out. The guys at  R & D Straker gave us the opportunity to take the game for a couple of days and give it a shot. We got to play with a few groups. We played with a small group of 3, a group of 6 and the game did not disappoint! The setup and rundown of the rules with players is quick and simple. The board is a map of sunset island. Most players begin their game at the hospital. Seeing the whole map from the beginning of the game gives all players an ability to begin to form their strategy to get off of the island. Will players work together or go lone wolf? Escape from Sunset Island turns this question on it’s head by blurring the lines between a cooperative and competitive game. One player is always the zombie!  The player cards, each with their own special ability, are shuffled into a deck along with the zombie cards. The players choose at random who their character will be. Each of the item markers, weapons, first aid kids, and resources are placed face-down on the board. Then all players, except an assumed hermit Paul Regret, start at the hospital. The game gives an interesting blend of action points, determined by dice rolls, to plan your moves. Each player card includes an image of the chess piece for each player. When a character is a player they use the white piece, and change to a black piece when turned. Your objective is to collect Food, Gas, and Water, get it to the nearest transport off the island and get out, with or without your friends. Most likely without. As you pick up resources, they get pretty heavy trying to run them across the island, so they incumber your movement, slowing you down making you easy prey for ME…I mean the zombie. Pro-Tip: You needn’t carry all resources at once, and they can be dropped if you have to get away in a pinch. The game starts off fairly slow for the zombies, and often times luring the players into a false sense of security, but the tides turn, and sometimes all to quickly. This can turn an easy going game to frantic panic and fighting for your life in seconds. The best part is that when you die, just like in the zombie apocalypse, you’re not finished. You will then switch sides and play for the other team, tracking down your former teammates with fury and fervor of the brains starved undead. Will you get away? Probably not according to the developers. They are quoted at a 30% survival rate by characters, and only a small percentage of those include more than one survivor. What I liked:
  • The game had simple yet fun mechanics. These were easy to explain and pick up for both experienced, new, and casual board gamers.
  • The balance was well thought out. Everything to the locations of the movement squares and item markers was designed to give advantages on both sides. They might include an extra space off the path to give you the zombie one more move to catch up. Their are often a plethora of doors to frustrate and enraged zombie trying to grab a meal while the character slips by him.
  • The devil is in the details. A lot of thought has been put into this game. Even rules such as zombie players can only communicate with each other through grunts and movements.
  • An interesting mix of cooperative and competitive gaming, with a mixture of both strategy and luck, make this game a fun one to replay over and over.
  • The zombie theme is not so pervasive that it makes non zombie fans uncomfortable.
  • You can feel that threat is imminent!
What I disliked:
  • The use of chess pieces as player token detracts a bit from the theme. It may not be enough zombie for the zombie enthused. Though even this decision was carefully considered.
  • The beginning pacing of the game is really slow and frustrating for the zombie. Like the fat kid in a game of tag. However, there are game elements that turn the tide very quickly.
  • Players may feel the desire to give up when the odds look too daunting. I Guess you save the last bullet for yourself.
  • Some Euro game fans may feel the rules and the luck aspect simple or frustrating. Don’t let that stop you though!
Overall we had a really good time playing the game. Each game brought different challenges to both characters and zombies. Each game played very differently. Though the luck aspect stunted some player moves at times, there was never a point when a player was fully out of options. None of them may be good options, but you have options none the less. When playing with 3 players we found it best to play 2 characters for each ‘live’ player. It gives the players more options and more chance to get away. However, if you’re looking for a few quick games, play with 2 characters and pass the zombie card around. I highly recommend this game for people looking for some Halloween fun, or just a fun quick game to get people introduced to board games. This may very well be your next ‘gateway game’. I, for one, really hope this Kickstarter project gets funded. components

3 Comments on ““Escape From Sunset Island”

    • Check back soon, we’ll be doing a post kickstarter interview with the creator and we’ll be sure to find out.

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