FLEE is a cooperative game of escaping for ambitious puzzle solvers. You start without reading a rules booklet in advance — discover the rules while playing! The Fast Forward Series uses the Fable Game system with a presorted deck of cards; it can then be reset and played again.
“Quickly, we must flee!”, you tell your companions. “The monster is almost upon us! Look to all sides for help as you never know where it will be!” Can your team survive long enough to finish all three chapters of this exciting story?
Hot Potato Mechanic (+8)
First of all, one of the main challenges in this game is the Monster card. Anyone who begins their turn with the monster loses the game for everybody so I consider this somewhat like hot potato except co-op. Managing whose turn it will be, where and when the Monster will end up is essential for making any progress. My first few tries of this game ended quickly because I did not manage the timing on the Monster at least a couple turns ahead of where I was in the chapter. For the most part you also don’t know how long you have until a new rule comes up or a new threat is introduced so keep in mind that there will be no mercy.
Good Order of Operations Puzzle (+8)
There are four characters in this game and turn order will either be clockwise or counter-clockwise. Some cards can change the order, or create situations in which one of the characters will be able to act first to your advantage. In a solo game — which I played — all of the cards available to the characters are in front of you so you can review the options you have to make progress. Arguably there is only one, maybe two if you factor in luck from the deck, way to make the progress you want. I have yet to find it.
Fun Art and Card Types (+6)
The lore is based on Alice in Wonderland, so the fun, whimsical art is included. Some card types refer to specific characters, while others are general card guards or simple objects. The colors are vibrant and offset a lot of the grumpiness of the behaviors or rules on the cards. Since the game makes a little effort to tell a story amidst the puzzle mechanics, it does also make an effort to have storybook-like illustrations. In addition to this, the card types have effects — both good and bad — that try their best to match the art on the card. Overall, nice touch!
Near-to-Impossible Solo (-4)
As I mentioned earlier I tried this solo and honestly I think it’s near-to-impossible to win by yourself. If it hasn’t been clear, I haven’t successfully won this game yet because it’s just super frustrating to draw on memory. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, I have disclosed that my short-term memory and overall recall in games isn’t great. Although you reorganize the deck every time you lose, and you see every card that you cycled through, that’s one of the key things that is easier to do in a group of people rather than by yourself. To win these sorts of games I need to rely on teammates to remember remaining cards that have not been drawn to deduce the next best move.
Rewards the Stubborn (-1)
The easily-frustrated type folks, like me, are punished. When I normally play a puzzle game there is a bit of satisfaction of “I’m done with this, now on to the next thing”, but with this game if you lose you don’t save your progress and try again. You start all the way from the beginning, and encounter the flavorless nature of trudging through those first cards — again. In order to win this game, you have to be persistent and stubborn. Whereas with me, I threw in the towel after a few tries. Though I won’t give up entirely just yet, I have officially given up on trying this solo.
Imbalanced Chapter Scaling (-4)
I did a “no-no” and thumbed through the rest of the deck quickly just to see if it would be worth it to push through. To me, it’s not. Each chapter increases the difficulty and in my opinion the difficulty scaling is unfair. In fact, I find that it is unnecessarily punishing, especially to players that are just about to win and just do one thing wrong. There is no room for mistakes, and gameplay is beyond repair if the cards are not played in that perfect order. The deck is not tiny either, so having to go through all of that again just makes me want to vomit.
Difficult to Pause and Resume (-2)
It is possible to pause the game so long as you remember which characters had what cards. The caveat is that unless you add in a few extra organizers from home it’ll be difficult to remember what cards had to stay active or just on standby. You may not even remember what the original strategy was, what cards were likely to show up from the deck, or any other important facts once you get the game back on the table.