Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Adventuring On Your Own: The Bold And Beautiful Solo Titles Of Zine Quest 2024

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We’re near the end of Zine Quest 2024 and like usual there have been a TON of fantastic games released that truly push the frontiers of tabletop to exciting and sometimes strange new places. One of my favorite corners of this world are the Solo TTRPG, games meant to be played by yourself and that adapt regular TTRPG storytelling to fit a more limited experience. With the player and the GM one and the same, the possibilities are surprisingly endless. And the creators working on these games are using that unique flexibility to create some of the most beautiful and unique experiences in the industry. So here’s some of my favorite titles worth checking out this Zine Quest.

Comet: Journey Through the Cosmos

By: Ink & Starstuff

This was an easy pick for me thanks to its combination of evocative theme and beautiful aesthetic. It places you in the role of a comet traveling through space and encountering the wonder and majesty of the stars. You’ll use cards to help you figure out what encounters you run into and a coin to help add some variety to things. But the core of it is the reflection on thees encounters and the poignant beauty to be found in new, old, and sometimes lost memories. It also has an option for epistolary play, letting you and a friend share your experiences and universes with each other. It’s only meant for one to two hour playtimes and each time you play you’ll have a brand new universe to explore.

Beneath The Sewers

By: Pearlyn Sim

Listen, if there’s a game that lets me get a little gross and grimy I’m going to be all about it. Beneath The Sewers is all about the dark, dank drama of the underground as you lead a team of mice through sewer pipes to escape the horrible man-made monsters that prowl the once safe waters. It takes place on a circular play map segmented out to represent the pipes of each level. You and your recruited mice must move up each segment to reach the exit while also avoiding the machine tentacles lurking around every turn.

Your recruits will give you more actions you can take as will purchasable upgrades, but you’ll need to watch your stamina to make sure you get your colony to safety. Just a fun little solo puzzler with a solid theme and unique approach to adventure.

The Magus

By: Oscar Biffi

Again, this is a pick going heavily on vibes. You play as the titular Magus as they work to attain greater arcane powers and reach your destiny. It’s rare for a solo game to lean harder into crunch (more rules/mechanics) but this one does so in an interesting way. You keep track of your stats Focus, Power, Control, and Scars, and success and failure come down to the roll of dice. The unpredictability of dice is a key part of the gameplay as well, giving you a feel for the wild and sometimes uncontrollable nature of magic. This campaign also adds an Oracle deck, a 78 card deck that contains prompts and imagery to help enhance your play. Everything about the game is polished and made with intent and that really helps it stick out among the lovably DIY feel you get from most Zines.

Outliers

By: Samantha Leigh

This one’s for all the grad school survivors out there. Outliers is a game that puts you, a lowly research assistant, into the weirdest lab imaginable. Your computer is leaking syrup. Your P.I. is disembodied. Time travel and cryptids are a regular occurrence. And amid all of it you’ve got to manage the research activities and earn that big new grant before you get shut down by Institutional Review Board. Oh and did I mention that alongside the regular array of cards, dice, and other things you’d expect…Outliers also incorporates a Jenga tower as a way to track funding? This is why I love Zine Quest.

You Are A Billionaire And One Day You Will Die

By: Big Lizard Games

I mean from title alone how could I NOT list this one? It’s a fairly loose setup, starting with the player as a billionaire in the modern day trying to figure out your plans for a death that your vast accumulated wealth has no hope of preventing. The beauty of the game is that while it has a darkly satirical tone as seen by the title, it’s also quite earnest in its contemplation of mortality, technology, and legacy. If you want something that might send you into a bit of an existential crisis, or just want to fantasize about your favorite billionaire biting it, this is the game for you.

Images via respective owners

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