Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Nemo Rising from Wizkids.
What is this game about?
Nemo Rising: Robur the Conqueror is an adventure game based on the novels by C. Courtney Joyner. In it, you can play as Nemo, Sara Duncan, Adam Fulmer, and even Ulysses S. Grant as you go on steampunky adventures in which you secure locations you have explored, battle enemies who try to stop you, and complete missions. At the start of the game, you will have a specific number of "mission points," which are like the timer for your game—if you run out before you meet your goals, it's game over. But you'll also be tempted to spend those points to choose better action cards at the start of your turn, and you'll sometimes have to pay them as the penalty for failing skill checks or being overwhelmed by enemies. Each turn, your character will have a set number of actions that they can use to move, explore, perform skill checks, and complete other tasks. The success of most actions is determined by the roll of a skill die, and there are different types of skill checks you'll need to pass. This is where action cards you select at the beginning of your turn come in—they can give you extra die rolls, or even guaranteed successes of a particular type.
Nemo Rising comes with two different adventures. One takes place underwater, while the other takes place in the air. They have custom enemies, art, and cards to provide slightly different experiences, and it's clear this game has been built to be expandable.
How does it play solo?
Nemo Rising has a variant that allows you to play with a single hero, but I recommend playing two-handed and choosing two characters.
Nemo Rising is a nice production with lovely art and a very comprehensible rulebook. I especially think that Nemo Rising might be a good choice for relatively new hobby gamers who want to take things to the next level, but aren't sure where to start. The game is cooperative and fairly simple to learn, but also offers some good player choices. It's also easily expandable, so groups who love this game can probably expect to see more of it.
However, Nemo Rising suffers from a common problem with board games right now—it's not a bad game, and there's nothing actually wrong with it at all. But does "there's nothing wrong with it" actually mean "it's good"? While the gameplay is solid, it also lacks a certain level of excitement. After a few plays, games of Nemo Rising seem to run together and feel the same, even if you're switching between the air and water adventures. The game's simplicity, which might make it a very good gateway for some groups, also hobbles it when you start to want more choice, as well as more tension. It's usually clear what you should do, and it's just a matter of whether you can get the die rolls to make it happen.
Do I recommend it?
Maybe? I actually like Nemo Rising well enough. It isn't a bad game, it's beginner friendly, and it looks beautiful. But you could also spend your money on something that makes your heart sing.
Overall Rating: 3 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.