Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about the history of games and how they started as very simple stones, dice, and pawns. They’re mostly what we think of as “abstract games,” today. Abstract games are great. They allow you to get to the meat of the mechanics you’re exploring, but there is definitely something to be said about games with full, rich stories.
For this week’s CMON Feature Friday, we’re looking at some of the game series that have created their own full storylines. Each time a game in these series is played, it feels like another chapter being told in an ongoing tale. As a player, games like these can carry with them an extra level of importance with the actions that you take. Each room you explore, each roll of the dice, and each battle you fight has an impact that effects more than the game at hand, it impacts the entire series.
Not much is known about the mysterious science experiments that caused the initial outbreak in the Zombicide series. It seems that in humanity’s attempts to become more productive, we pushed the laws of nature too far, and the result was horrific. By the time we join Survivors in 2012’s Zombicide, a large-scale zombie apocalypse is already in full swing. Players have to band together to avoid, and in some cases engage with, the shambling hoards. The original game included ten different missions that would challenge players in different ways. Players also had the ability to create their own scenarios and write their own stories in the Zombicide universe. Who hasn’t wanted to write their own zombie movie? Well, every good horror movie deserves a sequel… or several. Zombicide: Prison Outbreak was set in… well, a prison, obviously. Players were forced to adapt their strategy for the close confines of a maximum-security government facility, and now had to deal with Berserker zombies. Hey, the sequel always has to have a higher body count. The third stand alone title in the series, Zombicide: Rue Morgue, introduced the Skinner zombies. You had to make sure to double-tap these determined walkers or they’d keep crawling after you. Rue Morgue also brought in the concept of team play to the Zombicide franchise. Instead of all the humans working together, splinter groups could be formed and fight for their own survival. Let’s be honest, we’re not all going to get along if an apocalypse occurs. Throughout the years, there have been other expansions and add-ons, like Toxic City Mall and Angry Neighbors, that further fleshed out the Zombicide story. Players could return to this world on the brink again and again and experience similar gameplay with exciting new twists. In 2016, Zombicide Black Plague was released. It is a medieval adventure with all-new missions to complete. It gave players the opportunity to face off against zombies with some classic weapons, and even spells. Black Plague already has its own expansion, Wulfsburg, where players have to face off with zombie wolfz. In the Zombicide series, the world we know is gone. Survivors have to adapt if they want to avoid a fate worse than death. It will be exciting to see where this series of games goes in he coming years.
Arcadia Quest Series
Arcadia Quest is set in a world where heroes join different Guilds to go on wild adventures, seeking fortune and glory. The capital city of Arcadia is peace-loving, until the evil Lord Fang takes over and fills the streets with monsters. Now, the different Guilds must fight both the guards of Lord Fang and each other if they want to liberate their hometown. Arcadia Quest has spawned a number of different expansions and sequels, growing the story and adding new characters and adventures for them to go on. Most recently, Arcadia Quest Inferno came out. The city has always been protected by a group of Angels, but the evil Underlord has captured them, and dragged the entire city under the Earth’s surface. The heroes of Arcadia have to fight their way through a series of scenarios and eventually face off with the Underlord. This new addition to the Arcadia Quest world can be added to the base game, or played as a stand-alone adventure. Also new to the Arcadia Quest world are the Dragons. The Frost, Fire, and Chaos Dragons can be added to the end of any campaigns to act as a final boss. Each one presents their own unique challenge to the players. The story of Arcadia was also expanded through additions like Beyond the Grave, Whole Lotta Lava, and Pets. Each of these expansions adds new scenarios and new ways to play. Masmorroa: Dungeons of Arcadia gives fans of the series a new way to play. It works a bit like a dungeon crawl, as players move their heroes through the ancient raining ground below the city, in an effort to take it back from the evil wizard, Malaphyas. The goal is to gain more experience than your opponents by fighting monsters, exploring rooms, and opening treasure chests. Both Arcadia Quest Inferno and Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia are in your FLGS today.
The XenoShyft series focuses on the NorTec Corporation and their efforts to strip mine valuable Xenosathem from alien locations. They land on a planet, build a military outpost, and start drilling. But it’s never too long before the local inhabitants notice their presence and attack. The premise of the game is simple; players build their decks with cards representing military personnel, weapons, and Xenosathem (their buying power). Each round, they’ll deploy their troops and arm them in hopes of staving off the incoming wave of alien monsters. In XenoShyft Onslaught, the NorTec Corporation faced the Hive. Hideous creatures like the Tunnel Worm and the Swarm Caller hurled themselves at the base in wave after wave of attacks. It made you wonder if NorTec was paying its employees enough. In the sequel, XenoShyft Dreadmire (available in your FLGS today), the NorTec base is under siege from the Brood, a whole new alien force. The XenoShyft series is early in its development, but you can already see the endless potential. With no shortage of cool military weaponry to take advantage of, and the creepy, crawly aliens limited only by the developers’ imagination, you could see the NorTec Corporation sending its employees on many different missions to explore new worlds and return with valuable resources… oh, and their lives too, if they can. XenoShyft Dreadmire is in your FLGS today.
Whenever designers can create a world that will keep fans coming back again and again, everybody wins. Game series are like a movie or book franchise. But the beautiful difference with games is that every time you experience them, it’s a different adventure. Games have the unique power of interactivity with their fans. The experience is not passive as it would be when you watch a movie or read a book. The actions you take have a direct effect on how the story turns out.
What are your favourite gaming series? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #CMONFeature Friday.
Learn more about the Zombicide series here.
Learn more about the Arcadia Quest series here.
Learn more about the XenoShyft series here.