25 June, 2015

Game Chef Review 9: The Last Hour by Jenn Martin

The Last Hour

Ingredients: 6 [Stillness (3), Dream (3)]
I'm going with these two ingredients because they seem to make the most sense with the context of a central character who is comatose. Certainly no "Dragonfly" elements and anything "Abandon/Abandonment" seems a bit of a stretch.

Theme: 2
After my review of The Zone, I could hardly give this game a better score for the same category. This game also caters to a specific niche of the gaming community rather than expanding the audience, or catering to a non-gaming audience.

Would I play this?: 3
This sort of angsty catharsis isn't the kind of game I'm drawn to, certainly not for it's own sake. I might consider using this as the starting point for a campaign though. This is the kind of game that in my experience tends to set up more questions than it answers, but as an exercise in linking characters together it works well.  

Completeness: 4
This at least as complete a game as many designs of this genre, but that doesn't mean I find it complete by a long shot. There is a lot of background knowledge that needs to be imparted (through experience of the conventions and traditions of roleplaying, or the practices of drama) before the game becomes something that can be fully engaged by players. In a lot of cases, I know gamers who will look at this and try to work out where the game is. They'd wonder what to do with it? How to resolve conflicts in it? It's a roleplaying exercise, but is it a game? I can ever view something like this as a complete game.

Similarly, if this was a self contained and completed unit, it would have been nice to have formatted cards to play with.

Innovation: 2
My thoughts for The Zone apply here again. If I didn't know about Jeepform, the history of Australian gaming, or exercises in drama classes, this might seem innovative. But since i do know about these things, it just looks like it sits solidly in the middle of that school of thought. It's all a part of that "I'll design half a game, and let the players fill in the gaps to facilitate the stories they want to tell" school of thought. If the designer is running the game we actually see a whole package. If the designer is giving it to someone else to run, I'd put at least as much credit into the hands of that third party.

Output Quality: 4 [Language (2), Layout (1), Imagery (0)]
The language in this one is mostly point form and sentence fragments. It seems rushed. Little attempt at decent layout seemed to have occurred. No imagery at all.

Overall: 39% [18+4+3+8+4+2]
This is a pretty pedestrian entry for this style of game, it blends into so many other "let's get dark and angsty, because that's real art" designs that it really doesn't make a huge impression. It's generally the kind of thing that I'd gloss over if I saw it on offer at a convention. But like I said, it could be a novel way to develop a character relationship map between PCs in a longer term campaign revolving around the comatose patient.

I'll stop here, because at this stage, it almost feels like I've written more in this review of the game than the actual text of the game itself.
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