THEMEBORNE are well known and liked for their 'ESCAPE the DARK CASTLE' game and its fine expansions. If, like me, you have played and enjoyed trying to Escape from the Dark Castle then on seeing Escape from the Dark Sector for the first time you could be forgiven for thinking that it is, as my Mum used to say, the same meat, different gravy. Meaning the game hasn't changed except for the Castle and its Dungeons have been replaced by the eternity of Space.
THEMEBORNE have developed and produced a quality neoprene game mat that makes keeping the set up tidy and easy to understand. It comes rolled up in a square tube about a foot long (like a 12" Beef & Cheese Sub but not as tasty). It is best to keep it separate and safe in its box/tube as it flops open easily and stays flat. It's definitely not a good idea to fold it and try to keep it in the Escape from the Dark Sector game box.
Designed to play solo, with just one brave hero taking on the alien races, or in adventurer groups using as much brain as brawn, SECTOR is a good fun, easy to play, lots to enjoy, walk in space.
Of course the game is similar to the mechanics of Escape the Dark Castle but a complete copy with just a change of scenery it is not! Each character has their own specific die, marked with their name and with icons depicting the character's specific traits.
There are more, different dice sets in SECTOR than in CASTLE. The Chapter Dice are rolled and the face up sides are added to each encounter, making them harder to defeat, according to the number of players (one per).
The character's dice sets are now either Ballistic (Bullets) or Energy (Lightning Bolt) plus there are two special Explosive Ammo dice. Each player draws (or chooses) a starter weapon for their character and the Ammo dice they use depend on the weapon they have.
Characters also have one Cybernetic implant which gives them a unique ability which is often extremely useful in missions. These give bonuses for Ranged, Close or Non Combat actions.
Characters can carry uo to four item cards (inc weapons) and these are placed in a 2x2 grid to the right of the character card. Each enemy character card has a small box that shows the three ammo types opposite the amount of damage they do. For example such a card that carries Bullet = 1, 2 Lightning Strikes = 1, and 1 Explosion = 3 means 1 Bullet does 1 damage, 2 Energy do 1 damage and just 1 Explosive Flash = 3 damage.
When opponents take damage dice are removed from the Enemy card that equate to the damage done. When characters are injured the character's Medical Pad is adjusted. With healing available the characters life line on this sheet can travel up and down like a weather graph.
Apart from some different Dice Actions a new Ranged combat action can be implemented, Flanking. This isn't just simply a mimic of ranged conflict but from closer or/and the side, it also has an element of initial danger as when you take Action you are presenting your enemy with a potshot (a Hit Die is rolled) at you with no Return of Fire.
So yes, there is a fair amount of similarity to the DARK CASTLE games. The end of game Monster (randomly picked) awaiting you behind the last door is bigger and even nastier than anything encountered in Dark Castle and thus twice or more difficult to defeat, if you get that far! For like Dark Castle, if even ONE of your party dies, then you cannot continue the mission and must start again, you lose.
There are enough differences between CASTLE and SECTOR to make it worth investigating for any players who already own and enjoy playing CASTLE. If you don't like CASTLE it is still worth trying to get a play of. I say this from experience. I really enjoy ESCAPE the DARK CASTLE but my wife isn't so keen. Being a trooper she still agreed to play ESCAPE the DARK SECTOR with an open mind, if only for review purposes.
I won't lie to you and say she thoroughly enjoyed it, but her reaction to us failing at the Last Door, was basically 'I can't wait to play again' which we did the next day and 2 days after. Played four times to date and still smarting from Last Door defeat syndrome.
Like me, she enjoyed the different but similar dice actions, and the Space theme (again she is not a great fan of OuterSpace in the games media) actually works very well. I really like both of the themes and personally know they are both good fun to play.
They are basically games of combatting enemies of the World or Outer Space. The combat is a simple dice/symbol matching mechanic which as well as simple is fast and effective. The encounters are zippy and buzzing and often you easily gain success. This leads to you thinking it's too easy, then suddenly easy-peasy becomes a frustrating defeat. Eventual success brings great satisfaction.
It pays to shop around, even online. Remember some of the prices below may have to add P&P
Store Prices UK: ZATU carries CASTLE at £23.79 and SECTOR at £26.49.
Travelling Man has CASTLE at £27.99 and SECTOR at £27.99.
It's £34.89 for SECTOR and £28.95 for CASTLE on Amazon
Diceanddecks.com SECTOR at £25.89. CASTLE at £22.19
From: [ https://www.diceanddecks.com/themeborne-m423 ] the first SECTOR expansion arrives soon - looking forward to it.