GAMING POINT OF LOU QUICK HIT – STATUS REPORT!!!
“I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?'” – Alan Turing
I love tabletop RPG’s, and as “Dungeons And Dragons” was the game that I cut my teeth on decades ago in elementary school, it more than any other, has held a special place in my heart. Creating a character that I could pour a little (or a lot) of myself into, and having that character do amazing things in a world brought to life through the collective imaginations of the group was, and is a pure level of joy that few other experiences in my life can compare to. So when I was handed Offcut Games’ offering “Status Report” I immediately looked at it from the eyes of a person who has spent a lifetime pretending to be someone else while sitting around the game table or behind a controller, and it is in this space (pun intended) where “Status Report’s” star shines brightest. (O.K. I’ll stop now)
The premise is simple: you are the Captain of a Space Ship, a ship which is inhabited not only by a compliment of human staff, but also by a number of A.I.’s (Artificial Intelligence’s), and because we have ALL seen a Sci-Fi movie involving Artificial Intelligence, OF COURSE all but one of those A.I.’s has become murderous, and it becomes the Captain’s job to figure out which A.I. is still on the side of the Angels before the evil A.I.’s dispatch every human on board.
The Setup and gameplay for “Status Report” are both ludicrously simple. Even with a group of people who had never played the game before (myself included) we were up and running in about ten minutes, and that includes spending a bit of time perusing the instruction manual. Much like any good role playing game, Status Report falls firmly into the “more you put into it, the more you get out of it” category. While the game plays fast, (I never experienced a game over twenty minutes long) it is the interactions of the players at the table that determine the level of immersion into the game. The more that they are willing to inhabit their roles as either the Evil (Rampant) or Benevolent (Operative) A.I.’s, and the more they are willing to go the extra mile to fool the Captain, the better this game gets. Quite honestly the only thing I would change about the game is the size and readability of the flavor text on the casualty cards. I’m fairly certain that the developers only put the text there as a joke (much like all the casualties being in red shirts), never intending for it to be used as a legitimate part of the game, but I can’t tell you how often we were using the characters names and professions when trying to prove ourselves innocent. I can’t count how many times I uttered the phrase “Look, I could have killed the Librarian, but I killed the Lawyer instead I did you all a favor!!!” -or- “of COURSE they are evil they killed the HR rep!!!!” To borrow from the parlance of my teenage daughter: “It was so extra”.
Video game designer Cliff Blezinski once said (and I’m paraphrasing) that good game design begins with creating one really fun gameplay loop, and then continuing to make that loop engaging for the next “X” amount of hours. This is the core principle that “Status Report” nails perfectly, it doesn’t bog you down with rules, minutia, or complex systems. It gives the players the agency over the story, instead of the rule book. Much like any good RPG, it lays out the framework of the world and leaves the rest up to your imagination. I have become a huge fan of this game in my time with it. It scratches that RPG itch without needing a full table of players or days worth of prep time. It has the flexibility to be played for 20 minutes while waiting for the late comers to arrive, or be the featured game for the evening. It saddens me to no end that I will have to give this game back to John in the very near future, but I suppose I can pay no greater compliment to Offcut Games http://WWW.OFFCUTGAMES.COM than to “Put my money where my mouth is” and purchase my own copy, which I will be doing.
Until Next Time Everyone,
Be Good To Your Fellow Nerd,