UKGE Best RPG Category: Alien
Licenced games are always going to have some degree of hype to them, and few have had more hype than the next entry to the awards, Alien, from Free League.
This particular franchise is legendary in many ways, and the challenge for this particular game was in separating the enjoyment of the films and not projecting that enjoyment into the game being judged.
The artwork is plentiful, full colour throughout and every few pages. Layout is superb, and there’s a clear delineation to show where the artwork ends, particularly required when the background of the book is black and it would be easy to lose the edge of darker images.
The game system is simple, and very dangerous, if the characters encounter something from one of the films, they’re going to be in a lot of trouble, no matter which creature it is. It would make for excellent one shot games, but most of the judges weren’t convinced that a campaign could be put together well for the game. Experience is granted based on what you did within the scenario, and more importantly, not just on the use of skills and kills, which is just as well, because if you only got experience points for killing things, you’d never learn anything in this game.
There’s a wealth of information in the book about the technology, weapons, and universe in which the game is set, but there’s an implicit and perhaps inevitable consideration with this game that the designers are expecting that you have some knowledge of the films and/or extended universe. The basics are there, and cover all the different films, from the first Alien to the prequels up to and including Covenant and it would be possible to run any of the films using just this book.
There is a small adventure included with the book that charts the last days of Hadleys Hope, the colony from the second film, it does well to set up the dangers of the game and how characters would do well to stay out of the way of the creatures found within.
The panic system is well designed and doesn’t cause immediate party fallout when things start getting rough, however, at higher levels, it would be easy for a parties fear to spiral out of control in a very short amount of time. Very much like the films.
As a tie in to the films, it’s been very well done. Those asking if it would stand alone without the connection to the film are looking at a false equivalency, the only reason you’d buy this game is if you knew about the films and had interest playing in that universe.
We remain unconvinced on the use of the game in a campaign setting, but recognise that as there were limited survivors between films, characters should perhaps not expect to make to the end of the adventures, and that’s perfectly in keeping with how the films worked.