Based on the classic 1979 sci-fi horror, Alien: Fate of the Nostromo pits an unlucky group against the singular Xenomorph predator. Following its other adaptations of Jaws and Back to the Future, Ravensburger Games apply the tense, dread-filled atmosphere of the movie into a family-friendly adventure.
In Alien: Fate of the Nostromo, players work together to complete a random selection of objectives followed by a mystery final goal, only revealed once all previous objectives have been completed. These include collecting scrap around the board, using it to craft useful tools and taking them to certain rooms in the ship. Sounds simple right?
Well, almost. Each turn, players will draw encounter cards showing how quickly the alien moves towards them. If the alien reaches them they flee and lose morale. If the group lose too much morale its game over!
To make matters worse, concealment tokens appear in rooms which, if you’re unlucky, may hold nasty surprises such a Jonesy the cat scaring you half to death or worse, a sudden attack by the alien itself. Players need to work together and take advantage of each character’s unique ability. Ripley, for example, can use her actions to move other players whilst Parker can get valuable scrap from the supply. Everything here echos the 70’s design with nice touches. The board and tokens have a slightly blurred retro-monitor design and the unique card and character art is superb, almost photo-realistic! There are some nice touches from Jonesy greeting you as you open the box to the insert looking like the bright padded corridors of the ship. Although the component quality is average, it certainly looks the part. And being a huge Alien fanboy myself, I appreciate the nostalgic nod.
Unfortunately, there’s a feeling that the game was released before it was ready in some aspects. Noticeable gaps or vagueness with the rules led us to search for answers online, whilst card explanations and phrasing left us scratching our heads at times. Even one important item, in particular, has a different name and crafting cost depending on whether you’re reading the rulebook or the reference cards.
Also, while there are plenty of objectives to complete, they’re mostly similar – taking an item to a specific room. It almost feels that more time and attention to the gameplay would have ironed out some of the flaws.
Despite this, it does a decent job at delivering a feeling of urgency and dread as the alien gets ever closer. Rush and you may not be sufficiently equipped but take too long and the ‘friendlier’ encounter cards get filtered out leaving a deck of deadly surprises.
If you’re able to overlook the shortcomings, Alien: Fate of the Nostromo remains an accessible game that can be picked up, learnt and played quickly. This isn’t one for gamers looking for a deep, strategic survival but rather a simple experience that fans and families can jump into.
For alternative Alien experiences check out the suspenseful deck-building game Legendary Encounters: Alien or the campaign combat-driven Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps. Both offer a different take on this survival horror franchise.