There are but a few hours left, then, and then it’s all over. Everything. No more light, or dark, or time. Just the end. No one knows why. Or how. So before all the questions are gone too, all we have left is “what”. What are you going to do in the last moments of your life?
Game: So Long, My World
Publishers: Axis Mundi
Player Count:1 – 5
Runtime: 30 – 40 mins
So Long, My World from Axis Mundi, is a game bleak in concept, bleak in theme, and yes, you guessed it, bleak in art. It is the theme, rather than its execution that will get under your skin, that will leave a taste in your mouth after the game is done and put away. In it, you’ll find a little bit of deck drafting, bidding and a sort of tableau building that all coalesce over a Matrix-esque end-of-the-world story that isn’t quite a story.
The game revolves around the idea that the world we live in is an artificial construct, and somehow the code that binds us to the world and to our identities has become corrupted. This means that not only is The End of all Ends happening, no one is really sure who or what type of person they are. Each turn, as the clock marches forward, an Event card is drawn and read aloud—these cards are wonderfully, terribly rich, often giving the reader (the first player) a choice that will affect that round. Based upon the event, resources are doled out to their respective locations, these locations being the Visions players will experience and the resources are the Feeling Tokens that are attached to, and quantify the emotions and experiences of the drawn Event card.
From here, players will secretly bid on which Vision they wish to visit and Drain, a simple choice of gaining a new Remnant card, the Vision’s inherent feeling, or some of the emotions that have become attached to it from past events. This simple choice forms the basis of your game, with the outcome of it you will then play cards from your hand, paying their emotional cost and gaining their benefit and Insight points which you’ll score at the game end.
There are five types of emotions, two are positive, two are negative and the final one is neutral. Early game you’ll need to decide which way you want your final hours and your alignment to go, as there is a little quirk with the end game scoring by means of a Kama Chain.
The ‘NET’ feeling of the card-where a positive cancels a negative-gives the card a Kama score, so if you’ve explicitly, exclusively played cards towards one alignment you’ll get a Kama Chain Bonus; and it is a massive game swinging bonus: an extra point per card in the chain. The term dominant strategy springs to mind.
After my first game, it left me wondering “Why wouldn’t you do that in every single game?” After my second game I had to ask “What is the point of the neutral cards”…and then it all twigged: Bauhaus!
Talking of memories and past experiences; a memory I personally have difficulty shifting is that of art history module on the Bauhaus Movement. Why bring this up? Well, the central principle behind this artistic movement was ‘Function over Form’, and with, So Long, My World you couldn’t get further from it.
Theme trumps mechanic, time and time again in this game and for added flavour, there are two themes vying for control over the game. On the one hand, you have this chilling end of the world thing going on, and it is brilliantly executed. But on the other hand, you have Reboot cards and these seemingly random remnant cards which when I first opened my copy I thought were test or errors in printing.
The artificial existence aspect of the game feels like a different game entirely, like I’ve somehow mixed the components of two games together that just happen to use the same typeface and iconography. Perhaps there is a bigger picture here that I simply don’t know about; I know that all the games from Axis Mundi are somehow connected and exist in the same universe, but as the first contact with that ‘universe’ I’m left utterly baffled.
For me, a game about the end of all existence is interesting, engaging and different enough to grab my attention, I don’t want these silly frills—and that’s just how they feel. In this game, things happen that from a mechanical, nuts and bolts, point of view left me thinking “erm…”.
Lots of things.
But, this game wants you to get involved, to emotionally commit to it, and the mechanics don’t all need to make sense for that to happen. It wants to shock you, send shivers up your spine, and at points, it does exactly this; other people overhearing some of the cards that are being read out are at once fascinated and terrified by this game.
I would like some player interaction, I would like to have more winning conditions and a more even scoring system, and hell I would like more in-game choices and some crunchy tactical decisions, but So Long, My World isn’t that game. It is chilling, interesting and quirky and I think can best be summed up by one photo of one component. Look at this and ask yourself this question: “Is this an interesting choice?”
If your answer is yes, then it would be worth checking this game out on Kickstarter now.
This review first appeared on the Polyhedron Collider Website but thanks for reading it here too 🙂
This review was based on a prototype version of the game provided by the publisher, as such the final version may differ from what is seen here.