Review: Mission X-Code

A secret hacker group has struck and introduced malware into critical global computer systems. You and your team of hackers are the last, best hope for humans to win back control of the system. However, you can’t do it digitally! You’ll have to manually enter the correct 12-digit code into the SuperComputer’s terminal.

The Good

Co-Op Hand Management at its best (+8)

My very first co-op hand management game was The Game, and I remember it being really stressful. Then they decided to create a more extreme version (hence, The Game: Extreme) that seemed just unnecessarily cumbersome with extra rules. That being said, Mission: X-Code scratches the itch for a more difficult challenge after you’re tired of The Game. It’s not simply about laying down the cards from the deck in order, but about ensuring that cards arrive with perfect timing and exchanges between players is most efficient.

Simple Gameplay but Increasing Difficulty (+6)

Draw, Swap, Play, or Discard. That’s all you need to remember to do in this game for the next three minutes of your life. But don’t think it’s that simple! Special cards can meet some needs for adding time but don’t ever count on that being the case. This well-sized box comes with several challenges that manipulate the environment past the training level so set your ego aside and gather your friends.

No Downtime (+8)

Gameplay is simultaneous so goodbye downtime and paralysis woes. Though because this game does seem to favor having alpha players in the group, make sure you are comfortable with those you have chosen to be part of your team. Since you are frantically trying to just get things done, there may be quite a bit of yelling. However, even if you lose the first time do realize that simultaneous play always provides opportunity for mastery if you can play with the same people every time.

The Bad

Increasing Difficulty?! (-2)

Yet another one of those double-edged swords in my review, making things harder doesn’t necessarily make it more fun. Games shouldn’t feel like a chore, and after a while you’ll wonder “Alright, what is it this time?” I can imagine that having a good memory from the starting cards is helpful but how much of that knowledge can you really rely on when the timer only gives you three minutes? Keep in mind that I personally haven’t completed all of the challenges yet so it could be even worse…

The Ugly

Mostly a Memory Game (-2)

If you’re hard core enough, you could annihilate with a keen sense of memory or counting cards. You’ll need to track what is currently available as a collective team (e.g. a collective “hand” of cards) and what is remaining in the deck to execute the perfect order. But how boring is that?

Iconography Under Stress (-0.5)

Card anatomy has three places to indicate the card number, and another place for the direction you can swap cards. To me, it was sensory overload because the pieces of information were close together. Things started to blur, I began to stress out, and it was super not helpful.

Loose Theme (-1)

I really did not feel like I was in a hacker group. Are we supposed to be resembling some kind of software that just tries to throw numbers and letters together to break in? Where is this magical source of numbers known as the deck coming from? Why do we need to exchange information to know what a number is? I dunno. Really loose theme, honestly I would have been happy to just call this an abstract game and play the driest co-op puzzle ever than think I was part of some elite hacker group. Do they even have hacker groups?!

(okay I’m done ranting about hacker groups)

Difficulty Level: 3/5 for Expert
Satisfaction Grade: A- (91.3%) for Amazing
Worth Your Money? Yes.