Fans have been clamoring for years, and they finally got it: a new Crossroads game from Plaid Hat.
If you’re unfamiliar, Crossroads first appeared as a subtitle under the critically acclaimed Dead of Winter, a cooperative-with-a-traitor game that focused on a post apocalyptic settlement just trying to survive. Also, there were zombies.
The Crossroads element is a deck of event cards that could trigger a mini-scenario during a player’s turn if they performed a certain action or met a certain character. This card would present a short story and offer a choice – hence the “crossroads” designation.
Gen7 is thematically completely separate from Dead of Winter. Set in the future, you represent a small crew just awakened from cryostasis to take your 4-month shift maintaining the generational starship heading out to a new colony. (You are the 7th Generation, hence “Gen7”). With no traitor mechanic this time around, you must work together to maintain the ship and deal with any crises that arise. You do have personal goals – such as fixing less critical elements of the ship that are still important to your department) that you can spend time on resources for, but no one will actively be working toward sabotage.
You will see a lot of familiarity in the mechanisms to dead of winter. You’ll collect a pool of dice matching the number of crewmembers on your team that are awake, and use those dice to perform actions, although in this case the game forgoes cardboard standees and just uses the dice to mark where activity is happening. Locations are represented by large cards, just like dead of winter locations.
There are no secret objectives – everything is out in the open, but you will have to work together to complete the main challenges. This includes collecting the necessary parts, and sending your dice to deal with the problems. Any problems left unfixed can cause much worse problems.
But what really sets this game apart is that it is a campaign game with a branching storyline. A large notebook is included that you read to introduce the story. At key points you will be given extra goals that, when completed, will advance the story. In some cases you will have to make choices that can lead down branching paths, and they say there are 18 possible endings based on what you do. You’ll also earn points to upgrade your character’s rank (and abilities) from game to game, and even the Crossroads cards you encounter may offer choices that unravel in the future.
Honestly, this is probably my top pick from the convention. There are a few unfortunate elements that hinder my chances of play – play count is 3-4 players, and playing individual scenarios doesn’t seem possible. Also it was unclear how long a single game lasts – I’m hoping around an hour, but it could be longer.
The campaign, I’m told, lasts around 7 games, and no components are destroyed. With 18 possible endings, that at least lends itself to replay value.
I just love the theme, though, way more than I like Zombies. The fully cooperative nature of the game is nice, and the dice placement mechanism – along with the ability to use robots and unique player abilities to unleash action combos and really feel like you got a lot done – excites me. I’m going to have to get my hands on a full copy.