Full disclosure: Pencil First Games provided me with a prototype copy of this game.
The Kickstarter campaign can be found here.
What is The One Hundred Torii about?
The One Hundred Torii is a tile laying game about walking through a beautiful garden that you (and your fellow players, if you choose to accept them) create together as you place tiles and create pathways. The goal of the game is to score the most points, and you do so by strategically connecting landmarks to each other, then scoring points earned along the shortest path between landmarks of the same type. You receive a landmark token for connecting two landmarks, but you also score points for passing through red and blue torii—gates that allow you to pick up additional scoring tokens. You can also score by consulting friends who give you additional gameplay bonuses, by creating enclosures (closed-off sections of the garden), and by being the first to reach certain scoring thresholds.
In the solo variant of The One Hundred Torii, you pit yourself against Onatsu the Pilgrim, an AI opponent who has no mercy whatsoever. She has her own scoring board, so you build your own garden while she aggressively accumulates resources—and occasionally takes resources away from you! You'll need to use your friends' special powers to block her as much as you can, and choose tiles wisely. In single player mode, you draw three tiles, and choose only one. The other two go to Onatsu.
Things I like about The One Hundred Torii
I think that this game has a lot of promise. It is beautiful, and just looking at it is calming. The rules follow a fairly simple sequence, which makes the game easy to learn. But while it may be easy to learn, it is harder to master—learning how to set yourself up for the best plays and use special abilities to maximum effect gives the game some bite and makes for a truly interesting gameplay experience. When playing solo, Onatsu is a merciless opponent who accumulates points very quickly, which means that you'll have to race up that learning curve if you want to beat her. This game has definitely grown on me as I've continued to play it, and I can see it being a go-to solo experience on a night when I want to play a beautiful puzzle game.
Possible concerns about The One Hundred Torii
There are beginner and expert modes in the solo variant of this game, but either way, Onatsu is a brutal opponent. If you are easily discouraged when your automated antagonist opens up a huge lead in the first couple turns of this game, The One Hundred Torii might frustrate you. Sometimes you'll have lucky draws and be able to block Onatsu pretty effectively. But other times, she will stomp you and take your tokens at the worst possible moment.
Should I back it?
If you're looking an aesthetically pleasing and relaxing game, then The One Hundred Torii is a good choice. So far it seems to be striking a good balance between being a chill game and having enough bite to keep things interesting.