Review: The Wretched (Part 2)
The perfect game for writing your own short horror story.
Welcome to The Wretched review part 2! If you missed the first part of this review you can find it over here. Little did I know when I was jumping in to try my first Wretched & Alone style game that I would be playing the game that generated that style and its System Reference Document. You can find the SRD, written by Matt Sanders and Chris Bissette over here and you can find The Wretched over here on Chris’s site Loot The Room. This little add-on to my first review comes after having played the game for myself and the entries for that playthrough can be found over here.
First of all, The Wretched was just as interesting and fun as I hoped it would be. The playthrough itself took about two weeks and I didn’t play every day as I had intended. Some days I skipped writing an entry and on others days I wrote two or three. There are pros and cons to drawn out play vs in-one-sitting, but I think I would favor playing over a few days and writing three to four entries each day as a middle ground. I will say that one-sitting play might be a little longer than the book anticipates depending on your journaling style and journaling speed.
If you can use a block tower for this style of game it is there for a reason. It would add to the dread of any given encounter and the building anticipation of disaster that comes with playing those games would fit right at home during the telling of such a tale. Nevertheless, I got by very well without it and have even found another resource to use with a visual that might be a little more fulfilling than simple dice rollers online. Though this is another online dice roller, it shows the results and visually sets aside ones as you go so that you can see how deep in the hole you get along the way. You can find that resource over here. I know I’ll be using it next time.
Enough about generally playing Wretched & Alone games though, let’s talk The Wretched. I loved it and every prompt I stumbled across. In fact I have refused to read any of the other prompts so that there are still some surprises next time. Each one gets to the heart of what the game wants to do: make you think, make you feel. They put you in the shoes of a desperate person trying to survive and emulates many of the scenes we see in the movies of this genre. Everything from thinking about what happened to set this scenario to terrifying encounters and details from problem solving to mundane set pieces. Combined, they allow you to not just tell a story but to create a character. It was a lot of fun.
I have only one warning for those who haven’t played games like this before: you may encounter prompts that don’t work. It happened to me. This happened because of the story I had already written into being through the previous journal entries. Their failure is not something that diminishes the game or the system. To me they enhance it. I was so well given the tools to write a story that I had concrete ideas about how the movie in my head had already played out. What was and wasn’t possible for the poor wretched engineer trying to survive. So my advice? Do what I did and bend the prompt. Make it fit your current story and, if you really need to, just ignore it and draw a new card. This is a game meant to tell a story through journal entries not a homework assignment with instructions to be followed. Rules were made to be bent and broken.
All in all, this game is 10 out of 10. I’m in the deep end of Wretched & Alone now and have already scooped up half a dozen other games to try out from Chris’s game jam last year. You will be getting reviews of those, after I play them. These will probably be shorter and assume you’ve read all these thoughts on W&A games here (don’t worry I’ll back link for those who haven’t). If you want to get into these types of journaling games or are into survival horror genres go grab The Wretched. Right now. Go!