What Next

Board game review

gaming settings

What Next? by Big Potato Games is a cross between a game book and a cozy party game. It's essentially a choose-your-own-path adventure written on a deck of cards. There are three decks of cards in the box, each with a self-contained adventure. Pick a deck, and turn over the top card. Read it, make a choice, and advance to whatever card it specifies. That's the game. It is absolutely a choose-your-path adventure story.

The twist is that there are physical mini-games you must complete at certain points during the story. These invariably take the place of dice rolls. Instead of rolling on a skill written on a character sheet, you're actually testing your skill in some way that's vaguely related to the story. For instance, if the character in the story is trying to throw a rock at something, then you might be challenged to flick a puck (included in the box) along a ruler but not past the end of the ruler. When you succeed, something good happens in the story. When you fail, something bad happens.

Instead of taking damage the way you do in an RPG, this game has a bunch of oddly-shaped blocks that you have to stack each time you make a serious error. When your tower inevitably falls apart, the game is over and you have to start back at the beginning. This is a clever idea, but I'm not convinced it works all that well. After enough failure, you're pretty thoroughly discourages from playing again because you just don't want to go through the start of the deck again. And once a player loses faith that failure has meaningful consequences, the player is probably going to start skipping past the parts of the story they can recite by heart. Or the player just ignores failure and plays through to the end anyway, but then where's the game component? That's the weakest part of the game, and I think if I could change anything about it, I'd introduce some kind of whacky reward system for failure. Instead of stopping the game, I'd have players gain a silly and fun item card that claims to be a penalty in world but is actually either harmless or maybe even beneficial (after all, a player failing often enough is basically a player asking for assistance). Hardcore gamers will want to re-play the adventure until they can complete it without any penalty cards, and everyone else will have a laugh at how narrowly they managed to get through it.

Photo by Riho Kroll using the Unsplash License.

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