With scant regard for the electricity bill, or the harm it’s doing to the planet, we plan to sleep with the lights on for the next three months. Why? Because we’ve just had a couple of rounds with Elder Sign: Omens. By golly, this game is frightening, packed to the gills with demons, ghouls and other unspeakable fiends inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
What’s it all about?
There’s something strange happening at the museum. Exhibits are coming to life and roaming the halls. Mysterious artefacts are causing unusual behaviours. It can mean only one thing; the ancient entity known as Azathoth is preparing to invade our dimension and enshroud the world in evil.
You must assemble a team of intrepid investigators and put a stop to this madness, by exploring the museum and collecting enough “Elder Signs” to prevent the hell’s maw from being opened. The trouble is, Azathoth’s minions are gathering sigils of their own, and you must race to complete your mission before they do.
Fair warning, when you first load up the game it’s going to hit you over the head with a number of tutorial videos and help guides. It’s not the most graceful introduction to the rules, but this is a board game conversion so there’s a lot of ground to cover. Stick with it and you’ll find yourself hooked into a game that’s atmospheric, chilly, and downright unputdownable.
And really, all you need to understand is that the core game mechanic revolves around rolling dice. You might think that’s a case of luck, not skill, but players can use spells and other means to influence the outcome, and thereby enhance their chances of winning. Each room in the museum contains a unique adventure, with its own stack of oucomes, and you use your judgement in balancing risk versus reward.
Why do we like it?
The packaging and presentation of Elder Sign: Omens is fantastic, especially the artwork and music. The character design for each of the sixteen playable characters are drawn from classic Hollywood archetypes – the gangster’s moll, the stage magician, the adventurer – whilst the illustrations for the monsters involves all the slime, tentacles and rotting flesh you could possibly imagine.
Finally, Elder Sign: Omens is a tremendous feat of game design. Developer Fantasy Flight have ported over a fully-fledged board game onto a touchscreen device, and it loses none of the charm or playability of the original. It’s a tough game to beat, and potentially it’ll take several rounds of play before you figure out all the angles, but it’s certainly worth the trouble. Just don’t forget to leave the lights on, eh?