Updated: Dec 3, 2019
I have a particular fondness for co-operative games but I am usually not so keen on games where players are up against a timer. I approached this game therefore with some trepidation. It is a pure co-op. It is at its best with four players, although there is a mechanism for playing with two or three - substituting helpful ally cards for some of the threatening dread cards.
A set number of plot and dread cards are shuffled and laid out face down. Players have a timed 12 minutes to turn over cards to find those they need to advance the story plot while hopefully not unveiling too many dread cards.
Within that 12 minutes they also need to work out which locations they need to visit, and when, both to complete in order the plot cards and to defeat as many as possible of the revealed dread cards. They program their actions on their individual clocks - locking them in to begin their quest once the 12 minutes is up.
Flipping over the cards is the easy bit; the hard bit is working out who goes where and when, bearing in mind that particular combinations of skills are required to tackle each of the various dilemmas and that the plot elements have to be tackled in order and during a particular period of the day.
Nevertheless, 12 minutes is a reasonable length of time, so this is not a game where the timer need necessarily induce panic. It's main impact is positive: many co-operative games suffer from alpha player syndrome where a bossy player tells everyone else what they have to do. The timer here means there simply isn't time for an alpha player to commandeer the game.
London Dread comes with several 'story' plots and it is possible to ramp up the difficulty, so the game has replayability. There is some dice rolling and, coupled with the randomness of the cards, that inevitably means this is a game where luck will play a part, but it is an engrossing play and players do get a real sense of achievement when and if they beat the final endgame challenge.