As the year ends, it's become tradition for bloggers to give one last shout-out to their favorite things in "best of" or "my favorites" lists. There's already a million posts like that, so last year I listed my least favorite gaming product purchases. That list was well received (except for a few members of the Coadu Nation cooperative, who felt I just didn't "get" their product, and the lead designer for Steel Town Girls who threatened to make me eat my own dice bag) and since I ended up purchasing enough products this year to make a list meaningful, I decided to do it again for 2015.
As with last year, there is no intent to mock the entries on this list. This is merely a list of products, all published and purchased in 2015 (with one exception), which failed to live up to my expectations.
I hope you are entertained and/or save a little money.
1. LUCA - The Last Universal Common Ancestor
By Past Zahlopni Games
click to zoom
If you follow gaming blogs or gaming trend-setters on social media, you might have gotten the impression that LUCA is one of the greatest games ever created. Its mechanics for creating unique microbes with unusual numbers of flagella are often compared to the timeline building of Microscope. The social bonding aspects of LUCA - a game where, to have a character to begin with, you must literally split from another player's character and begin as their exact duplicate - have been praised as unique among RPGs.
What the game's fans fail to mention is that microbe creation is the only part where player input actually affects the game. Most game play is just the rote chores necessary to keep your character alive. Yes, the first time you roll for chemiosmosis is magical, but it soon becomes part of a repetitive drive to survival. It's a the dice-and-paper equivalent of MMO grinding, and the more you succeed, the longer you have to keep doing it. In fact, once you grasp the game's catalyzation mechanics, your session can last indefinitely (there's no built in timer mechanic to end the game).
Replay value is even worse as experienced players will have a substantial advantage when playing with new players.
I give LUCA one mutation out of a possible 5. It's a great concept, but play value is microscopic.