Michael Palm & Lukas Zach Artist
When someone discovers a new game genre it is jumped on from all sides, and everyone with half a thought to game design thinks they can either do better than the latest original or at least grab a piece of the lucrative pie. This has been ongoing for as long as I have been playing boardgames (and before) with the Roll & Move board/card games such as Monopoly© Magic the Gathering™ and Settlers of Catan® being amongst those game types most often copied, sometimes bettered often not.
There are now many types of games in this genre, all of them that I have played being cooperative fun, with each company's version having fairly similar, but different enough, mechanisms for solving the given clues. The series of games under the UNDO banner from Pegasus Spiele, I have currently seen five and played two (at the time of writing), have all the elements of regular Escape Room puzzles, including the need for players to make calculated and/or lucky decisions but always preceded by party discussion and usually determined democratically.
One of the latest, if not the latest certainly the current most prominant, genre of games to take up the mantle of being popular and imitated, is that of the Escape Room puzzle. Pegasus spiele's UNDO series of games can be categorised under that label, although strictly speaking the players in UNDO are not trying to escape to or from anything.
The players are given the collective title of Weavers of Fate, investigators of sorts. They are mysterious beings with the power to go backward or forward in time (without having to reach 88mph), but have only nine opportunities, from 12, (there are actually 13 Story cards but one of them is the 'start' and not accounted for by the timing mechanism) to discover the truth of the tale read out briefly to them at the beginning of the game.
Both games I have played use the same base mechanic and a similar objective. Thirteen story cards (over-size playing cards) are laid out face-down in numerical order, each with their corresponding small card (also by number and also face-down) positioned beneath them. You can make one long 13 card display or split the row to make one of 7 cards and one of 6, dependent on your table size and as long as you leave enough space to place the smaller cards (these are Clues) beneath them. Quick Look
For a first adventure the publishers have made an excellent choice with TREASURE FEVER, as the Mexican, Inca, Mayan etc jungles and mythos have always been a great source of interest and source material for story-telling. In modern times we have Lara Croft to thank for this.
Many people may have thought that the theme for the second story, based on an H.P. Lovecraft tale, should have been the first product in the line because any game featuring Cthulhu is bound to immediately popular. However I believe that Pegasus Spiele took the correct path by launching the Cthulhu game second as it gave UNDO a chance to make it on its own without relying on Lovecraft who is usually referred to as a foregone conclusion for success.
TREASURE FEVER requests you to read Story card #12 and then read the Clue card, Shiny Object, associated with it; from there you are on your own.
It is no secret to tell you that high above the Yucatan Jungle on February 29th 1952 (this was a Friday, a fact that escaped the authors) at 3.37pm a young woman fell to her death when her parachute failed to open ...... You are to investigate what happened in the events leading up to the young woman jumping from the plane and why she took the plunge.
All you have to go on is the story you have been told and a list of places and dates - these being the Story cards - and four Investigation cards which will allow you to read Clue cards. Each story card has more of the tale on its face down side but first off you have to choose where to start your search for the truth. To do this all the players look at the Story cards without touching them (no one is allowed to look at their face side). There is information on the backs of these cards that might offer clues or give you direction or indication of where in time to next visit.
18 years ago in Liverpool, 11 years ago in Cambrideshire, Merida Yucatan 1 Month ago etc etc The Date and Time for each is also on the cards though if you seek for historical knowledge like that found on GooGle it is of no real use to you.
Apart from the part about the Yucatan Jungle each game is setup the same way: The display of Story cards and clues, 9 time cards (these are all the same and are taken from their stack back to the game box one at a time as each Story card is chosen), 4 Clue cards and the Rules cards that simply explain the setup.
There are also 3 Fate cards for each Story card (exception being the Start card #12 and one other) marked with the Story card's number and A B or C (thus 1A 1B 1C etc). After reading the selected Story card you are offered three choices, rather like end paragraphs in Fantasy Fighting © Books where you are asked to a) go here, b) do this or c) do that. In this game the choice of A B or C determines whether you score Plus, Zero or Negative points - there may also be other consequences. One of these being there are Blood Drops - three of these means you have failed even before you get to the ninth Time card.
The Clue cards, one at each Story card, remain face down until the players decide to spend an Investigation card, of which you have only four only, plus the original one that was given free with the Start Story card. A nicely decided mechanic is that when you spend an Investigation card you may read any Clue card as long as it is from a Story card you have already read.
At the end of the game - when you have flipped the last (the ninth) Time card back into the box - you will have some idea of what happened in the Past and possibly in the Future. Now you tally the points from the Fate cards and add/subtract any Bonuses or Hazards until you have your final score. We thought on both games that we had done enough to be successful, but as it turned out we were one point away each time.
Games last for as long as it takes the players to make their 9 selection of Date and Time and tally their score. This is another excellent choice by the designers & publishers, no requirement to rush or hurry through under pressure; the players do not have to escape nor is there any time limit set to achieve their aim. Thus UNDO adventures are superb for social games playing, enjoying the craic, the banter, soda-pop and snacks.