I first came across this game when Alex Roberts wrote about it for Waypoint last year. I thought it sounded fascinating (and that art is ridiculous in the best possible way).
I checked back recently and saw that the digital version is out. I bought it and read the rules, and it still sounds absolutely fascinating. I’ve had trouble getting people together for it in person but I’m dying to play it. It doesn’t seem too hard to coordinate online and I feel like it’s the kind of thing the Waypoint crowd would find really interesting.
Here’s the concept, might be redundant if you’ve read the article or if you’re familiar with the game.
You and your characters are part of an Isolation - a group that’s isolated from society in some way. Maybe you’re on a mission to Mars and you’ve lost communication with Earth. Maybe you’re a guild of thieves that has to operate and communicate in plain sight. Maybe you’ve created a Rapture-esque society in hiding, or you’re a group of AI left on an abandoned Earth. “Isolation” can be interpreted in social terms, physical terms, emotional terms, anything in between.
You decide on aspects or pillars of the story as a group. Is your Mars mission story about the first manned mission? Is it about long-haul truckers that supply existing colonies? What brought everyone together for the mission? What about the planet defines daily life? These are the questions that give shape to the backdrop and allow for different kinds of stories within the same setting.
And the gameplay loop is about drawing cards with prompts of words to create, and a scene to play to give it context. The card tells you to make a word for friend, or a term of endearment, or a filler word, or an honorific. The group discusses what the word should be based on its connection to each pillar, and you generate a conversation between characters where it’s used.
One constant is that the isolation comes to an end. There are three ages: the first age establishes the Isolation’s identity, the second is an event that foreshadows the end of the Isolation, and in the third, what was foreshadowed has come to pass. And as these changes occur, words change.
It sounds like an incredible format for some one-shot storytelling. It’s meant for 3-5 players and takes a few hours to play. Reading the rules, it feels like a really nice mental workout for creativity, and it sounds like an exciting path to emotional and meaningful stories without a huge time investment.
I’d love to hear about anyone’s experience with this game, and if anyone’s interested in figuring out how to play online, I’d be excited to talk about that too!