Jack Caesar along with Ben Milton (YouTube’s Questing Beast) have crafted an interesting game here. Part role-playing game, part puzzle game, part homage to the classic Jim Henson film. There’s plenty for a veteran gamer to enjoy, but it feels written for the tabletop game-night crowd who normally play stuff like Settlers of Catan or 7 Wonders and might be interested in role-playing games but are maybe put off or daunted by Dungeons & Dragons.
The rules and character creation seem fairly simple with gameplay focused more on problem solving and imagination. Including copious illustrations and some charts, the rules are all summed up in the first 35 pages. From then on, it’s the adventure of exploring the Labyrinth and facing off with the Goblin King.
There’s an almost Choose-Your-Own-Adventure progression from there. If or sometimes how you solve a scene, as well as dice rolls can determine what scene you find yourself in next. Because of the varied possibilities, the game is likely to play out differently each time.
Due to the nature of the game, there are limitations. Each game will progress through certain stages, though the exact nature may be different. There are limitations on character choices, but also openings for expanded options. There’s a lot of possibilities to explore within the walls provided.
One quibble I have is that it starts out fairly early by consciously eschewing the problematic but traditional term “race” in favor of “kin.” Cool. I’m all for it. However, the writers then go on to use the term “race” more times than not, as though the decision to change it to “kin” was made late in the game and the revision didn’t get finished. My other problem is with the book itself. It’s a handsome volume and seems well bound, even featuring three ribbon bookmarks. There’s art throughout and it looks fantastic. If you take the dust jacket off, it even looks like the book prop from the film. Awesome. However, a choice was made that I do not like at all. In order to provide you with the two six sided dice you’ll need for the game, there is a hole cut through the interior of the book that creates a resting place for the dice. I don’t like it visually, and as I’ve already noticed some fraying around the edge of the whole, I think it will be detrimental to the volume’s long term survivability. It’s sort of an experimental choice that I would recommend game publishers learn from and not do in the future.
I’m interested in trying this out. I can see its potential as a crowd pleaser at conventions, for sure. There’s a physicality to it, including the fantastic artwork, that makes me think it’s a game to be played face-to-face around a table and might not translate as well to the virtual gaming we’re all stuck with for now.