Elder Sign: Omens Review
- H.P. Lovecraft's mythos lovingly compacted in to a chilling board game.
- Beautiful and horrifying artwork.
- Game has been tweaked from the physical version for iOS play.
- Relatively comprehensive tutorial videos; easy to pick up and play.
- Basic concepts need to be better explained; tutorials are good, but only if you understand what a 'peril' is or 'summoning signs' already.
- Handful of crashes while playing on iPhone 4S, though turns do autosave at the beginning of each round.
The Lovecraftian mythos is often used and abused as a cheap shortcut for instilling thrills or mystery in to an otherwise bland story or experience; not so with Elder Sign: Omens as it shows off the true terror, danger and madness of messing with the dark unknown in this chilling board game adaption.
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It's hard to be a fan of board games and not be aware of US based publisher Fantasy Flight Games; not only have they worked with some of geekdom's most treasured franchises, but they've delved in to the dark depths that is the Lovecraftian Mythos and produced some truly chilling games. One of their latest is a standalone card game dubbed 'Elder Sign' and iOS gamers can now get their hands on a digital version tweaked for the platform under Elder Sign: Omens.
The premise is a simple one - you are in control of a group of four people, each with distinct abilities, but all seeking to find enough 'Elder Sign' tokens to prevent the summoning of the dark deity known as Azathoth. In practice this is far harder as you scour a museum packed with haunted items and evil secrets, while monsters and cultists constantly work against you.
Each turn sees you control one of the four available characters and choosing their destination, be it one of the challenges on the board or cowering at the entrance to regain sanity, health and maybe purchase some items. Completing challenges requires you to generate and use randomly assigned tokens on foes or strange objects, unlocking their secrets or defeating the enemy, scoring loot and possibly an Elder Sign in the process.
This is further complicated by some tasks having heavy penalties that affect the game and many challenges will take a toll on your sanity or health regardless of how well you've done, adding a lot of strategy in what order the areas should be completed in.
If you're ever lost as to what to do you can load up one of several comprehensive videos that explain the game mechanics and user interface to help familiarize you with the game.
Elder Sign: Omens is a board game truly worthy of its inspirations, though this also has its draw-backs; the game is unforgiving and approaching challenges casually will make it almost impossible to win. Though this is part of what makes the game so attractive - you're up against truly horrific odds and even in success a penalty must be paid.
Fans of Lovecraft and board games in general should make this their next purchase.
Description**iPhone 3GS or later device required**
“GAME OF THE WEEK” - G4TV.com
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BOARD GAME GEEK - 3 out of 4
The tense excitement of Elder Sign is now available for iPhone/iPod Touch! Elder Sign: Omens places you in control of up to four intrepid investigators, as they fight to keep all-powerful Ancient Ones from invading our world through a museum’s arcane exhibits!
*Build a team of unique investigators*
*Explore an ever-changing museum*
*Face challenging arcane tasks*
*Save the world from absolute destruction*
*Expand the horror with exciting in-app purchases*
Can you stand against the impending arrival of a malevolent Ancient One?
While Elder Sign: Omens brilliantly conveys the spirit of the Elder Sign dice game, a few noteworthy differences were adopted to optimize the mobile play experience:
-A limited number of available Ancient Ones streamlines the game play experience while offering adjustable levels of difficulty. Face Yig in normal mode, Azathoth in difficult mode, or Cthulhu in very hard mode (in-app purchase required to face Cthulhu).
-A number of subtle changes increase the peril of defending humanity. For example, the random negative effects drawn every midnight are more challenging, and the frequency of “no effect” results has been decreased. Monsters have likewise been altered to make them more difficult.
-Finally, there are no Ally cards in Elder Sign: Omens, which further streamlines play while increasing the overall challenge.