Solar Storm Kickstarter Review

Your spaceship is heading for disaster. It’s been caught in the gravity well of a star and the engines have decided to conk out at the worst possible time.  The only solution is to divert power from all the other systems in the ship and jump start the engines. The problem is that the ship is very close to the sun and systems are starting to get damaged from the rapidly increasing heat levels.  

In Solar Storm your job, is to race around the ship, rapidly fixing the ship’s failing systems, while at the same time attempting to kickstart the engines and get out of there before it all gets hotter than the inside of a McDonald’s apple pie.

Solar Storm Kickstarter cooperative review

In Solar Storm you have a limited number of actions to move around the ship, repair systems, divert power and activate special abilities.  The main game is played through a set of item cards, each representing a type of spare part or resource needed to fix the ship’s quickly burning systems. You’ll also need these parts to complete the all important diverting of the ship’s power, and each room requires that it be fully repaired before you can cash in the three distinct cards needed to apply the jump leads and be another 1/8th of the way to completing your all important goal.

The problem is the ship is burning up, and as it gets dragged into the Sun it gets burned up faster and faster. Each round another system fails, and in later rounds two, and then three, systems take a hit. If a system is ever completely kaput and takes another point of damage, then it's game over and you all die a fiery death.

Solar Storm scifi board game review

It means that there is a careful balance between repairing systems and keeping everyone alive, and finding the jump cables needed to get out of town. Especially in later game, it can get very frantic, as players are running around all over the ship trying to keep the ship running, spending precious time and resources not doing the game’s main goal. The tension is palpable and, subsequently, it can be bloody hard to actually complete the game.  Even though the game provides methods of tweaking the difficulty, I’ve yet to survive the easy mode!

Solar Storm cooperative board game review

Even with its punishing nature, Solar Storm plays very well; the rules are straightforward, you have clear goals and a full game takes no more than 60 minutes but typically more like 30 to 45 minutes, and takes up very little space. My only problem is that there’s a very strong sense of game-ja-vu.

Game-ja-vu is the sense that you’ve played this game before, even though you know you haven’t, and Solar Storm’s card system feels very similar to Board&Dice’s Multiuniversium and Pocket Mars, so much so that I was surprised that the same publishers or designers weren’t involved. Solar Storm also can’t escape the fact that it's yet another take on the Pandemic-inspired cooperative game.

Solar Storm Kickstarter board game review

I always like to finish my Kickstarter reviews with a simple question; will I back it? And in Solar Storm’s case the answer is sadly no. I can’t deny that it’s a good game; its fast, straightforward and manages to create the rising sense of dread that everything is going to go from bad to worse very quickly exceedingly well. It also managed to distil that tense cooperative experience into a game that can easily be played over a lunch break without the need for a huge table.  But I also can’t deny that it's yet another cooperative game in a sea of similar games, and no matter how good it is, it doesn’t quite do enough to stand apart.

This Kickstarter preview is based on a prototype version of the game provided by the publisher; the final product may look, play or smell different to that used in this preview.
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