Game Review: Visitor in Blackwood Grove

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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A Fun, Quick Game

# of Players: 3-6
Time: 5-25 minutes
Age: 6+
Game Type: Puzzle, Semi Cooperative
Game Type: Any
Complexity: 4 (Gateway)

Remember the first time you watched E.T.? Do you remember how it felt to root for the little guy and his buddy Elliot as they tried to keep the mean old government agents from dissecting E.T.? Well, if you remember that feeling and ever wanted to play the role of Elliot and kids like him, Resonym games has brought forth Visitor in Blackwood Grove.

While it is not a direct port of E.T., it has all the cool elements of the movie and some totally unique elements that the team at Resonym decided to throw in to make this game uniquely their own. This is a fun, quick game that is good for any collection because it can be set up and played in minutes, not hours.

The story of the game is interesting. An alien spacecraft has crash-landed in Blackwood Grove. The only people who know that it has landed are teams of government agents and a small child who was riding their bike near the crash site. The child wants to help the alien and the agents want to experiment on the alien. Who will win? It is up to you and your friends. While the extra terrestrial genre of games is quite saturated, this story brings back memories of childhood dreams and really places the players in the game. This earns Visitor a score of 8 out of 10 for story.

Visitor: Artwork Disrupts the Story Line

The artwork of the game is interesting. The grove, the identity cards and the alien shield all tie into the theme quite well. The only rub I had was the item cards, which by themselves are well drawn. Since it is children and agents proposing the items, either the child is an exceptional artist or the agents have a lot of whimsey.

This peculiar feature kind of disrupts the story line. This is not to say the art is bad, only that maybe there should be a government deck and a kid deck. With this being the only nit-picky thing to knock the artwork for, the game comes through with a strong art score of 7 out of 10.

Interesting Mechanics

The mechanics of the game are interesting. The key mechanic is testing the shield around the ship (it is what keeps the nasty agents out). Since the alien does not know where it is at, it also starts by not trusting the child either. The child gains trust by testing different objects, determining what will pass through the shield and what will not. This on its own is an interesting mechanic, but when you add the trust meter, you have a interesting set of mechanics.

The final test is also interesting. Since the alien does not speak English, agents and the child have to choose which of four objects will pass through the shield. If the child is wrong, there are no problems. However, if the agents are wrong it increases the trust of the child. Great mechanics give this game a great score of 8 out of 10 for the mechanics.

Challenging Dynamic

Strategy is also interesting in this game. On one hand, you can have a deeply decided plan to test different items to make a well educated guess. This leads to challenging games where individuals are playing a cutthroat game. The problem is that agents can start guessing on the first turn. If you have three agents who are guessing, the odds of them getting it right by turn three are quite high.

This means while you may not be the winner, the alien and the child lose. So, even if you are not playing teams, this creates a challenging dynamic for the kid and the alien. Because of this, we created a house rule that agents cannot guess until turn 3, which seemed to balance out the game. Visitor gets a strategy score of 5 out of 10 for this reason.

Visitor in Blackwood Grove: Final Score

As for novelty, everyone loves a game that has a new take on the constant struggle between a child’s imagination and the stern face of the government. The mix of theme and mechanics give this game a strong novelty score of 8.5 out of 10.

This brings Visitor of Blackwood Grove to a total score of 36.5 out of 50, maintaining Resonym’s great scores for the weekend. This is a fun little game that you can play with your hardcore friends and with your new gaming friends and have fun with either group. I hope that you take the chance to look at this game, it is worth your time.

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer is a writer for NRN and an adjunct professor at both Penn State University and the University of South Florida. He is the author of several books, most recently “A Criminal History of the Democrat Party” which is available on Amazon and via the publisher, Elite Exclusivity. Follow on Twitter at @Acriminalhisto1

NRN • New Right Network
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