Alien is a classic and holds a special place in my heart, so when I saw the opportunity to do some review work on the upcoming Alien TRPG by “Free League Publishing” I jumped on it. That being said I want to have full disclosure. I was not paid to write this article by the company but the review material was provided to me for free for review. With the official stuff out of the way let us talk about this game.
Let’s go over the dice SON! We have a Year Zero type system with some modifications that really push the alien horror system. What that means in lamens is that players roll D6’s based on skills and characteristics players have for basic characteristics with skills attached to them (see character sheet below). If a player rolls a six then they succeed. Weapons, and encumbrance are not as focused on as much. Most items are light or heavy (one or two respectively) and add up to make your inventory. That being said there is a lot of things that players need to keep track of such as oxygen, food, water, sleep, and electricity.. Being chased by a xenomorph for 20 hours can really take a toll on the body and if players are not resourceful then they can get stressed pretty quickly.
Speaking about stress let’s get to talking about that. Watching aliens break their way through people can be stressful. Also losing every concrete fact you believed in, or maybe having a corporate entity hunt you down in order to keep your discovery a secret. The point is that stress is integral to the Alien universe. So stress is pretty simple. Players have to roll a six to succeed with no repercussions other than failure. Stress allows for a sort of critical fail. For every point of stress players gain another D6, but with one more opportunity to succeed players also risk panicking. A panicked character can go from accidentally dropping an item all the way to completely going catatonic, and if you let it get out of hand then not only will you be affected it your teammates will too. Players can mitigate stress by being in a protected place, taking certain types of drugs, or even just making a little more sense of their horror situation. No matter what you do, be sure to keep a lid on your stress or it might end up hurting your party too.
So I was lucky to take this game to a local, small game store and play with some buddies and their reaction was great. Literally everyone went home and watched the movies the next day just because they were so excited to have had the gaming experience. There are two ways to GM the Alien game too. There is a cinematic play where the GM sets up a situation as a one shot. Not everyone is expected to live in this type of game and the action can be intense. This is “Alien” and the only way to get out is to sometimes be faster than your friends. The other mode is more of a campaign and players will focus on the interesting careers and lives of the various humans that span the frontier. The material that I was provided focused on the cinematic play.
Cinematic play can be described in one word. INTENSE. Do you remember that one scene in Alien (spoilers) where Ripley tries to blow up the Nostromo, and the whole ship is on the verge of exploding? The whole place is going up in smoke and there is a real time countdown to the explosion that will end everything, but the xenomorph is blocking the way. It feels like her whole world is falling apart, and it was either luck or a curse that brought her through in the end. I never thought I could make something like that happen on a table top. It was a great adventure with some great twists and turns, but what really sold it was the rules. Players trying to manage resources, fix a nearly impossible situation, and still trying to keep stress from destroying their scared little minds made what was probably one of my favourite times GMing in a long time.
This game was seriously fun and I can not wait to pick up my paper copy. One of my players was the owner of the store I played at and he vowed to have these books on the shelves, so I will be playing again for sure. If any of you cool gamer kids want to check out the website to preorder a copy of this game then check them out here. Also you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter by clicking on these links. Seriously thanks to Free League Publishing for giving me a shot at this review and thanks a million for reading this article. I hope you all enjoy this game and as always,
Shoot any questions down in the comments below!