Games Gazette Logo

DECKSCAPE: The FATE of LONDON

DECKSCAPE: The FATE of LONDON is the second game in what looks like becoming an ongoing series of puzzle games from Italian giants dvGiochi, the publishers of the world famous BANG!
Like the first Deckscape game, Test Time, Fate of London is written by Martino Chiacchiera & Silvano Sorrentino, and is for One to Six players and costs around £13.50.
The DECKSCAPE games are somewhat similar to the TIME STORIES games in as much as it is only playable to completion once; after you have solved the puzzles and saved London there is no point in playing it again. Instead of being in a large box with a board and pieces, the Deckscape games arrive in regular 60-card pocket boxes, with each single card being nearly two times the size of a regular playing card.

  

The Deckscape games are based on the real-life ESCAPE ROOM idea where a number of people are locked into a room and have to locate the clues required to find their way out. When you open the box for the first time you are confronted by the "Caution" card and from then on you follow the instructions on each card in order, at least for the first few cards because the single deck is very soon turned into four, separate decks with different coloured borders, each face up in a row in front of the player or players. Make sure that you don't see or especially do not read, anything on the cards underneath the four top cards.

Reviewing a puzzle game is puzzling in itself for I have to make sure I don't give too much away. I am not writing a walkthrough but trying to give an impression of how the game plays. I will say that playing solo is very difficult unless you really have a super analytical brain. The problems are easiest to solve when several players are tossing ideas and suggestions into the ring and you can bounce ideas off each other. I will give a shallow hint, in a 2-player game either sit directly opposite your fellow player or make sure that you look at the puzzle presented from all angles.

  

Somewhere in London there are four bombs set to go off unless you can discover the way to prevent them exploding and killing thousands and damaging millions of pounds worth of buildings. You have been selected for this Top Secret mission by an "M" like character who believes you are the best person/people for the job. I have played solo at least half-a-dozen times and so far London has been blown up each time, however I am getting closer, it's just a case of remembering not to make the same mistake twice (or three times).

The way we like to play it is slightly different from the rules but a lot more of an enjoyable challenge. We use the "every time you make a mistake you cross an X onto your score sheet, and when you get three Xs you fail" so that instead of plodding along to the end making mistakes and not worrying, except that you get a lower score, you are under pressure to finish correctly. 
 
The actual rules have you marking Xs for every error you make and then adding 5 minutes for every X on your card. I can understand why you would do this if you were in a competition or if you were publishing your time online and asking others to beat it, but for the added excitement our home-rule 3 Xs and out really is a fun challenge. Then like TIME STORIES if you fail you begin again at the start but of course you should be able to work your way through to where you failed (your third strike) and then begin from there with a fresh clean slate (unless you make an error on your way).

The top cards on each of the four decks show a puzzle. To solve the puzzle on one top card you may have to solve a few puzzles in another deck or decks to obtain the item required - it may be a key or a combination or something entirely different. When you find a clue you are allowed to hold it to one side for use at a later date, perhaps being useful more than once, like a set of keys for example. In the game you have until midnight to find the devices, in actual real time you have 60 minutes. Have a clock or timer to hand and make sure you play to it, no cheating. (If you do cheat it is only yourself you are cheating).

The great thing about the Deckscape games is that anyone aged ten or upwards can play them (it says 12-99 on the box but I have played it with a 10 year old with no problem (except that we lost); I wonder why the designers are set aginst anyone over 99 playing it?) The puzzles are all types, Logic, Maths, Visual etc. some are immediately easy to solve, others take some thought or/and discussion. Each time you get a puzzle wrong you mark an X on your score pad (we use a scrap of paper rather than use the one provided score card) and when you reach three Xs you have failed and you must stop playing immediately; you also have to stop when the timer reaches 60 minutes

We did solve the first Deckscape, TEST TIME, but this one is proving a mite harder, which is good because it means there is more playability than you would maybe think. I can thoroughly recommend that these games are well worth the £13.50 cost. Great games.

Well we played Fate of London again and with some luck and extra eyes and brains we stumbled our way through to complete the first part with only 2 crosses and one possible explosion. However this was not the end of the game as there is a twist when you get to card #40. We were wondering why the top card of the Blue deck was reading "#39 Mission Complete?" thus giving us no access to the remaining Blue cards under it until we had indeed completed the Mission. I am not going to tell you what the rest of the story is or any clues as that would take away the fun. I will say that we almost completed it but we ran out of time - instead of a timer we use the Three Strikes (Xs) and Out rule, meaning we hit our third X before we solved the remaining clues.

FATE of LONDON is a brilliant game with only one or two minor quibbles about a couple of the clues, one in particular where you have to overlay a design to find the right square (button) to push and which we all agreed could have been any one of several squares as the design fit the grid in more ways than one. 

  Continuing from above: we were are referring to this card (number 26) however not one of us "bright sparks" noticed that there are some gray links among some (not all) green squares which mean that although there are ootherwise multiple ways the scheme of card number 18 can fit into the grid there is only one way it can fit for a unique valid solution.

If you look closer (we had help, though our excuse is that we were playing under regular house lights making the grey links very hard to see) you will notice those gray links. Now when you orient page 13 correctly you can see the path indicated from the start until the final red X, without interruptions. This is the only way to orient scheme number 18 to accomplish this.

We are going to wait a few months before playing both of these games again for by then, and with different players around us, we will have forgotten the clues and solutions. These Deckscape games are super fun and mind activating, it's also great to hear several people putting forward their ideas and then having everyone discuss them unti an agreement is made - heaven help you though if you turn an idea down and it turns out to be the correct solution. Great value for money and enjoyable for gamers and non gamers alike.

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015