Full Disclosure: Van Ryder Games sent me a review copy (not the final edition) of Mystery so that I could write this preview.
The Kickstarter campaign for Graphic Novel Adventures can be found here.
What is Mystery?
Mystery is a gamebook about making your way as a superhero on the rough streets of Chicago. It's also the "face" of a new series of Graphic Novel Adventures that are being translated and published in the United States by Van Ryder Games. (The French originals are published by Makaka Editions.) All of the gamebooks share one particular characteristic: They are like comic books that you navigate from panel to panel by finding numbers on doorways, on pathways, or hidden in the scenery. Then you travel to the panel with that number to continue the story.
This one common thread has already led to a number of enjoyable experiences--GNA Series 1 included Captive, a story about looking for your kidnapped daughter, as well as Loup Garou, a light RPG and story about making your way in the world as a werewolf. We also got to solve mysteries with Sherlock Holmes, build our own towns (Your Town), and search for lost artifacts (Tears of a Goddess). I enjoyed every title in the first set of GNA games that Van Ryder has published... so is the second going to be a sure bet?
I think so!
What do I like about Mystery?
Mystery is actually my favorite entry so far in the Graphic Novel Adventures series! It's quick, it's witty, it has some hilarious pop culture references, and perhaps best of all, it really has that point-and-click adventure feel. I thought Captive might have been the best the genre had to offer in that regard, but I was wrong. Mystery allows you to build up various superpowers (I personally loved putting points into "Super Rich"), grow in strength as a hero, and solve puzzles that emerge naturally from exploring the world of the book. Even more fun is that Mystery has little QR codes sprinkled throughout that you can scan with your smartphone. The information you find that way isn't required—you can fully enjoy the adventure without your phone—but I loved the flavor text and scanning it made me feel even more like a trainee superhero.
The other books in the series won't be going back to the world of Mystery, but I'm very excited about them, too. Two of the other four new publications will be Sherlock Holmes investigations, and I got a real kick out of the first GNA Sherlock Holmes book. The other two are from a series called Pirates, and the theme alone has me sold.
Possible Concerns about this Campaign
I am really happy with what I've experienced while playing the Graphic Novel Adventures series so far, and based on the strength of Mystery, my expectations remain high. That said, if you hate investigative puzzles or having to take notes to keep track of where you are in a gamebook, be warned that you'll be doing a lot of that when you play these. Know thyself.
Should I back it?
If you like Choose Your Own Adventure books, or if you enjoyed the first series of Graphic Novel Adventures, then I'd say you should. This project is an instaback for me.
As usual, Kickstarter is here to tempt us solo gamers with an array of interesting games—and this week, more than one involves food!
1. Consumption: Food and Choices
I've never seen a game quite like this. Consumption, which will be published by Kolossal, is a worker placement game about meeting your body's nutritional needs, and it is designed by a dietitian. It is played across six rounds, and the winner will be the player with the most Victory Points. VP are earned by shopping wisely, making healthy recipes, and staying active—all things that would contribute to a person's overall health. I am not going to lie, I am not particularly attracted to this theme. But I am all about games that push new ideas and themes, so I hope to see Consumption do well!
2. Chocolate Factory
Another Euro about food—but this one is an engine-builder that is all about delicious, delicious chocolate! In Chocolate Factory, you'll go for powerful combinations of factory parts to upgrade humble cacao beans into the most exciting chocolates possible. You'll also be going for skilled employees to help sell your concoctions and build up your chocolate empire. The components look great, and the game advertises an "actual physical conveyor belt" for processing your chocolates. It seems like Chocolate Factory adds good tactile fun to its engine building mechanics.
Let's just keep the Euro theme rolling for this post and cover Coloma, which is an engine builder set during the Gold Rush of 1848. In addition to engine building, the game incorporates action selection and resource management. You will be playing a pioneer who is seeking a fortune in the Wild West, and you can choose to do that by prospecting for gold, building up the town, hiring workers, and more. As a solo player, my main interest in this game is the fact that David Turczi designed the solo mode for it. Given his track record so far (Anachrony, Teotihuacan, Dice Settlers...), anything he does for solo is worth notice.