Review: The Wretched (Part 1)
The Wretched is a solo journaling game that exemplifies the survival sci-fi movie’s ability to instill fear, dread, and isolation.
When I saw that Chris Bissette was Kickstarting a reprint of something inspired by the likes of Event Horizon, Aliens, and the music of John Carpenter my interest was immediately piqued. And that is exactly what we got. The Wretched is a solo game in the style of Wretched & Alone games, something I have never actually played before. This game in particular got me curious about the concept and, since seeing it, I have been looking into many other ones (and have even ordered a couple others from Loot The Room). Besides the fact that I have never played one of these games, I also need to point out that I haven’t played this one either…yet. Over the course of the next few weeks I will be going through a run of this game, writing up entries each day that you can read here. Once complete, I will add a part two to this review.
Upon initial reading, this game looks amazing. The print copy is high quality and the art and layout are perfect. Chris really knows how to elicit the right atmosphere of a game between the covers it is printed on. He also does a great job at being up front about how the game works and what it intends to bring out of the player. This takes the form of a general content warning relating to the emotions and tensions you are meant to feel, relations to various movies that evoke similar feelings (including the aforementioned favorites), and a note that you can get a better idea (if still unsure) by looking ahead to the debrief section. It is short, concise, and empathetic to the player, whomever they may be.
Mechanically, I am quite excited about the prospects of using so many items to run a game for myself. It uses a die, a block tower, and a deck of cards (all of which I have ready access to) to create a diverse and replayable set up. The fact that these mechanics exist as prompts means this game is a good writing and creativity exercise, something I genuinely look forward to. I cannot wait to go through, see what happens, and discover a deep space story of survival.
This brings me to the methodology of my play through. I am going to go for a slow-burn style. Instead of sitting down and going through it all in one shot, I am going to treat each day’s entry as a literal separate day. This means I will be playing it over the course of weeks, as I mentioned, but it also means no block tower for me. While I may have one, I also own a cat and that isn’t conducive to a consistent tower staying up for weeks. Included in the book, though, is the address to a wonderful thread you can find here, which gives a number of alternatives to the tower. I will be using the diminishing 100d6 pool. You can find a webpage over here that was created expressly for this purpose. Fair warning though: the page is only logistically useful for a single sit-down style of game as the roller does not maintain tracking in any way if closed. I’ll be using an electronic roller and writing down my pool as I go.
So, the “too long, didn’t read”. This game looks fantastic and feels like its going to be a great experience. Knowing some of Chris’s work and seeing the quality of the book, I would say go buy it right now if you like the genre this is illicting and are familiar with the game style already. If not, I will see you in Part Two!