As a child of ye olde Choose Your Own Adventure books, I love the games produced by Telltale Games. The dialogue-based, weighted-decision style of gameplay is both stressful and delightfully appealing to me, and I loved The Wolf Among Us, of course. Naturally I was thrilled that there was a Game of Thrones Telltale series coming out, and the Fella and I sat down to play each episode together on Steam as they were released over the last year. If you’re a fan of the HBO tv series, the books by George R.R. Martin, or even if you just enjoy high stakes storytelling and plot twists, this game is rad.
So… I am not super good at playing video games, but I am really solid at watching other people play video games and enjoying the art, the technical achievements, and the storytelling for all it’s worth. Especially when the game is beautiful, richly animated, excellently voice-acted, and jaw-droppingly well written.
The other night, the Fella got sucked into playing a new release on Steam called Firewatch. Released on February 9th, 2016 from Campo Santo, this is a first-person ‘adventure’ game, in the spirit of ye old point-and-click (which is my jam) with a small but phenomenal voice cast and unfathomably gorgeous landscapes. We immediately fell for the lush use of wilderness, the breathtaking quality of light, and the game’s simple, straightforward functionality. We ended up playing for about three and a half hours straight through because the story completely derailed every plan we had for getting other things done that night…
The Game: Firewatch
The Developer: Campo Santo (@camposanto)
Available On: Steam (Mac, PC, Linux), PS4
I’m not a very adventurous gamer-type by default. It’s something that’ve learned over time, and cultivated carefully. I love games – we used to have board game nights in high school complete with freshly-baked mini chocolate chip cookies to fuel us. But as someone who didn’t become a tabletop gamer of any kind until after college, I tend to be timid about ‘proper gaming’ and its many endless iterations. However, when I see something that looks fun, sounds fun, and has a cool spin to it, I jump on it like it’s my turn in the rodeo ring. The last time I did that, the Fella and I got hooked on BullyPulpit Games’ unbelievably fun Fiasco. This time, it’s a funny little card game from Gamewright called Sushi Go!
Sushi Go! is a “pick and pass” card game good for 2-5 players ages eight and up. It’s a fast, almost ruthless risk-taking game with simple structure but complex decision-making, and the art on the cards is beyond adorable. Play with caution though: if you’re a sushi fiend like me, the game will absolutely make you hungry.
The premise of the game is inspired by certain sushi restaurants with conveyor belts, where the sushi is prepared fresh and laid out on plates which are on a little train track, and you as the customer get to pick the ones you want off the train as it rolls by without it stopping to wait for you. Each card is worth points, but some cards aren’t worth anything unless you have the right combinations or the most of each one. Each card has a different situation, and so choosing which cards to lay down each hand is a bit of a risk – but a delicious one. If you lay down a card which needs another card in order to count, or perhaps two more cards, you may not get the cards you need before the end of the round, and therefore, you won’t get all those tasty points.
How to Play:
In Sushi Go!, each player is dealt a hand of cards (the number of which depends on how many players are in the game). Then:
- Each player selects one card to ‘play’ or ‘keep’ and places it face down on the table.
- Then all players flip their card over…
- …and each player passes their hand to the left.
- Repeat until you have passed hands the same number of times as the number of players at the table. This is one ’round.’ Tally your points on some scratch paper, then put all cards into the discard pile, deal new hands, and play again.
- At the end of three rounds, the player with the most points wins!
You must carefully choose which card to ‘play’ or ‘keep’ each hand, while essentially gambling on which cards will come to you in the next hand. For example: the Nigiri cards are worth a certain number of points each: 1, 2, and 3, depending on the type of Nigiri. But if you put down a Wasabi card before you put down a Nigiri, your points triple! The Shrimp Tempura cards are worth 5 points – but only if you have two of them in play. If you only have one, it’s worth nothing.
Similarly, if you put down a Sashimi card, but you never acquire two more to make the set of three complete, no points for that either.
What’s even worse? No Pudding cards. If you have the most Pudding cards on the table at the end of the round, you get 6 points. If you have the second-most, you get 3 points. If you have the least amount of Pudding cards in play, you don’t just get nothing, you get negative 6 points. You literally lose points if you don’t get dessert with your meal – or if you don’t get as much dessert with your meal as everyone else at the table. Never forget about dessert.
The game instruction booklet says to play three ’rounds’ but we found it was more fun to play First To 100 Points. So it’s as many rounds as you want – the game goes really quickly and it’s much more fun to keep egging each other on, racing to get to a certain number of points first. It’s also a little addicting because of how quickly the game plays – you get the hang of it and then you feel like you need to keep playing. It’s different every time!
I love the card design, the simplicity of the game, and the additional layers of “how to screw over the other players while maintaining an air of poise and confidence” that this game contains. At some point, you realize as a player that it isn’t just about how many points you can get for yourself, but how can you prevent the other players from completing their goals, especially those pesky Shrimp Tempura or Sashimi cards.