Level 7 (Written Review)
Eric’s Solitaire (and multiplayer) Review of Level 7
Right off the bat, I have to say, this game didn’t do anything for me. I am not going to explain the rules and how to play the game, you guys and get that from other reviews of this popularly reviewed game.
Looks like the cover art from a 1980 Commodore 64 game
The rules were confusing, coming from a wargamer that really means something. It mean that I had to keep referring back to the rules to make sure I was playing the game correctly. Even after a few games and having internalized the rules more, it still wasn’t a very immersive experience because of the rule clutter and the rule exceptions in each of the scenarios. The theme just wasn’t very strong, the mechanics of the game dragged the theme down with it. The game is comparable to Gears of War in many ways and that game is heads and shoulders better than this game. The mechanics in that game melded with the theme better and was way less fiddly. I liken this game to Dungeon Quest, you flip a tile and a card and you may or may not die. I had games where I had the -1 shield + 2 intelligence skill and boy oh boy you don’t want any monsters around you to activate because if they do, you are dead meat and since the more players there are around the more monsters activate prior to your turn, you are NOT in much control over your life and death. I played this also solitaire one character, the game is very odd, it felt unbalanced and untested and tacked on as an option, so don’t even bother. If you’re going to solo this, control 2-4 characters.
The game lack variety also, the characters feel the same, the skill cards add some variation but its usually just the difference between a Strength or Intelligence oriented character or worst a Nerf character that is a bard, good at nothing. The monsters felt all the same, and if you manipulated the movement of your characters just right and limit your exploration until you are ready, the monsters just stand around much of the time, instead of closing in and attacking you every turn (like what happens in Space Hulk). The game hence lack intensity and became at most like a curious puzzle.
All the characters have practically the same stats, the only thing to make them different are those skill cards on the left side and even then its not much.
The game is hard to win, you will lose quite a bit, I don’t really mind losing to the system in most games, but its infuriating in this game because I felt that I was at the mercy of the dice more than anything else (don’t get me wrong here, I am one of those odd folks where “dice loves me”, I don’t mind randomness usually). I maximized my chances with correct card plays and adjustments to my fear track and I can roll 8 die but I will still regularly fail a 5 intelligence roll. I am not seeing the fun in that, it seems to happen way too often for my liking. Maybe it was just bad luck in my session… I don’t know.
Not much variety to the monsters. And you’ve to not love the standees
In this game, things just felt a little too chaotic which detracted from the puzzle element (if that’s what the game designers were aiming for) and the games weren’t very tight, either I got destroyed or I won easily.
Another poor decision by Privateer Press is the components. The tiles are a little warp on arrival and on the thin side but acceptable, the cards are the same quality as those in Star Trek Fleet Captain (which were okay, easy to shuffle) and no miniatures. I am a board-wargamer and miniatures are certainly a luxury in hex and counter wargames but I expected much more from Privateer Press, a Minaiture Wargame Company (its sad to see them do so much worst than GW in this endeavor)! It was a bad decision on so many levels it isn’t funny. Games in this genre often have miniatures included, the aforementioned Gears of War comes to mind immediately. The miniatures certainly add to the theme, which was much needed in this game. (If they eventually sell miniatures for this game separately, I’ll cry “bloody rip off” and tell you not to bother) I won’t even bother comparing this game with Space Hulk in terms of component quality, its night and day.
Minimally I was expecting a thematic experience like I do with Arkham Horror (which is one of the few 10 out of 10 games for me, so you’ve an idea of the games I like.), where the gameplay and mechanics take a back-sit to the story and narrative. In this game I just don’t care, the story is contrived and the execution lack imagination. The artwork is probably the games most redeeming feature. The art is very nicely done on the tiles, cards and counters, albeit its all looks very similar and a little monotonous, the palette is pretty much the same dark tone everywhere.
Nice art but boring when everything looks the same.
I am giving this game a 5.5 out of 10 after playing 5 of the scenarios, I haven’t given up yet, I will play through the rest of the scenarios before final judgement. I may decrease or increase the rating with a few more plays but I don’t expect any drastic surprises either way.