Resident Evil: Deck Building Game Preview
Shambling through the horde of the undead, or at least very exhausted, guests at Gen Con, I came across Bandai’s booth. I would have ignored the Yu-Gi-Oh! games if a rubber Nemesis mask didn’t catch my eye. What was the notable Resident Evil monster doing there? Promoting the new Resident Evil: Deck Building Game, apparently. I had a few minutes to kill, so I sat down for a demo.
I have many fond memories of playing the PS1 games with my father, so I was excited for a deck building version of survival horror.
Someone was already demoing a game with who I could only assume was a Bandai rep. He acted with authority, and it seemed that he was familiar with the rules. I’m going to refer to him as Bandai Bill, but I have no clue what his name was. I asked if the game was cooperative or competitive. He told me it was a co-op game, which made sense to me if we were running around as Jill and Barry. After a few rounds, I couldn’t find any mechanics that encouraged teamwork. I asked how it factored into the game, and Bandai Bill said “well, you can give me that healing herb, since as Chris, you can’t heal anyways.” More than happy to support the team, I gave him my card.
One of the only differences between Resident Evil and Thunderstone is that you can shop and fight on the same turn. Bandai Bill enjoyed this mechanic, and almost always drew grenades or the “Master of Unlocking” card. When he fought, he would toss a grenade, which did a good deal of damage to zombies, but would also damage every person at the table. This was not pleasant for me as the character who could never be healed.
“Master of Unlocking” gave Bandai Bill a chance to steal the top card of our deck, permanently. He played the card gleefully and maliciously every single time, and I began to think the game wasn’t very cooperative at all.
I equipped Chris with a shotgun and went inside the mansion. For some reason unknown to any sense of realism or fairness, the shotgun forces you to fight two zombies from the deck. This is ideally a great way to earn experience (because I have played zero RE games with experience points — WTF?), but the mechanic backfired. When I failed to overcome the challenge, Bandai Bill yelled “man, those zombies just RAPED you!”
Then he farted.
I began to think that Bandai Bill was not a representative of Bandai at all.
The final straw was the Nemesis card. Nemesis is similar to the Thunderstone, in that it must be acquired to win the game, but has one major difference — big pointy teeth. It took twenty minutes of play for the card to show up. I found the rocket launcher in the previous turn, which would have ended the game right then and there, but it wasn’t my turn. Instead, the player fighting him lost. Instead of us all dying and losing or the next player having a chance to battle Nemesis, the monster was placed on the very BOTTOM of the deck. I was not about to spend another twenty minutes looking for that stupid card only so someone else could have a crack at him. Friends told me later on that this is not exactly how the game is suppossed to be played, but since I didn’t know this I politely said my thank yous and good byes and booked.
Resident Evil wasn’t an awful game, it just seemed that way having to play with random dudes. I could see myself having more fun with my friends, especially those who are Resident Evil fans. The cards do an admirable job of referencing the video games, even if the mechanics don’t reflect the action well. I can also see myself having more fun with the dozens of other deck building games releasing in the wake of Dominion’s success.
I’d like to write the game off as trash, but I have a feeling that the presentation influenced my judgment. I’ll give the retail version a try in October, and I can hopefully give a more positive review then.