Despite my love of games, I’ve been on zombie burnout for the better part of a decade. I feel like if I were to blindfold myself, spin around three times, and throw a dart from the middle of a tabletop game shop—not that I would ever think of doing such a horrendous thing—if I didn’t hit a game about dueling wizards, it would probably be some kind of zombie-themed game. That market saturation has left me feeling worn out on the genre.
With that being said, the undead-infested Resident Evil games will always be near and dear to my heart, especially the Raccoon City trilogy of the PlayStation 1 era, which encouraged stealthy, conservative tactics over the more head-on confrontations found in the later games. And now, it could at last be time for me to return to the land of the living dead—the UK-based company Steamforged Games Ltd. has taken on the significant task of translating the much-praised second installment of the series into tabletop form in the Kickstarter-funded Resident Evil 2: The Board Game.
The game will use unpainted miniatures that move around a board made up of tiles arranged in various configurations depending on the scenario being played. The scenarios can be run as standalone sessions or played as longer campaigns following the narrative of Resident Evil 2, with persistent items and character information carried over between scenarios. You might find you want to hold off on firing that last shotgun round in the current scenario, instead saving it for a later foe—like in the video games, ammunition and other resources are scarce, and players must make judgment calls on whether it’s worth the risk of attempting to sneak by an enemy or expending precious bullets to eliminate the threat. Each turn, the top card of the Tension Deck is revealed, and with it a new potential problem for the players. The Tension Deck is also used to randomly determine what is lurking behind each door, with the color of the card corresponding to information on the scenario sheet (green is good, yellow is bad, red is worse). Finally, the deck serves as a clock, pushing players to press on quickly: when the last card is flipped, that means the city has become completely overrun and the players lose.
Steamforged Games is already well known on Kickstarter for its previous board game based on the Dark Souls franchise, which reached its base funding goal in a hilarious three minutes in 2016. That game demonstrates the company’s attention to detail, both in delivering an experience that is faithful to its video-game inspiration and in making that experience as challenging as possible. This bodes well for Resident Evil, since both that franchise and Dark Souls are infamous among video gamers for their high difficulty—and hardcore Resident Evil players are known to increase that difficulty further by performing speedruns and “knife-only” playthroughs, in which they restrict themselves to using the generally unhelpful survival knife as their only weapon. Both of these styles of play are officially supported in the board game, as is a “tank control” mode intended to evoke the awkward, prejoystick orthagonal movement that made the games all the more terrifying, as players would often find themselves helpless to flee danger.
Stretch-goal fans can rest assured: this game has nearly tripled its base goal of £150,000 ($201,584) at the time of this writing and is offering a slew of perks that will be available to all backers, as well as several optional add-ons for those interested (including the iconic Giant Alligator, pictured above). The standard pledge, including stretch goals, is set at £70 (roughly $94). As the title suggests, the board game’s content is strictly focused on characters and situations from Resident Evil 2, but the team’s creative director, Matt Hart, has hinted that expansions drawing upon other titles in the Resident Evil series are a future possibility.