Updated: Nov 20, 2019
This is a game that confounds all expectations. It’s a two-player game designed to be played by couples… That immediately conjures up the image of a bawdy party game. There’s no shortage of those, and most prove to have been more fun for the designers than the players. Fog of Love is not one of those.
Indeed, there’s really not much that’s risqué about Fog of Love. Although designer Jacob Jascov clearly began with the expectation that the game would be played by couples, this isn’t a game about sex. It’s about relationships.
Fog of Love is an innovative story-driven game and one with an exceptionally strong theme. Though Fog of Love’s complexity means you wouldn’t classify it as a gateway game, the introductory section has been cleverly designed so that it functions as a very effective tutorial. This means that you can pretty much just start playing and pick the game up as you go.
If you are introducing Fog of Love to a non-game playing partner, you may both be tempted to play the game as yourselves. That’s probably a mistake. You need to think of this instead as a role-playing game where you and your partner each adopt a board game persona. Having chosen a public persona (for example, your occupation), you’ll start off with some hidden trait cards from which you will choose aspects of your character’s personality. Avoid marital disharmony by not attempting to match those traits to your real self. This will help you over the first hurdle of choosing physical and emotional features for your partner’s character. It will also help when you find you have discarded destiny (objective) cards that your partner has clung onto.
During the course of the game various scenarios will be presented and players will respond by placing out markers that reflect their actions and feelings. Players are aiming for happiness at the end of the game by having markers on the board that match those of their hidden traits but Fog of Love isn’t a zero sum game: ideally you’ll want your partner to be as happy too. Problem is, you never really fully know your partner’s hidden traits…
The ‘scenes’ that emerge, and to which players each respond, are drawn from decks that mirror the maturing path of any romantic relationship from ‘sweet’ to ‘serious’ to ‘dramatic’. This gives Fog of Love a cinematic shape: structured in three acts like a movie rom-com.
Fog of Love remains a novel and arguably unique board game experience because it manages to use board game engine building mechanics to successfully simulate relationships. We found it to be a game that has provoked love or hate responses. In the main, the haters have been those who thought it should be simulating their own relationship: answering as themselves the questions posed by the game rather than settling in to the role defined by their character traits. Those who love the game – by far the majority – have come back for more. If you treat it as a role-playing game, then Fog of Love will play differently every time but you will of course develop familiarity with the questions and dilemmas that crop up. There are, however, several scenarios in the core game and publishers Hush Hush Projects have already released three expansion packs (It Will Never Last; Paranormal Romance; Trouble with the In-Laws) each of which further extends the game’s replayability. As part of their commitment to diversity, the publishers have also printed versions of the core game with alternative box covers so that these reflect gay as well as straight relationships.
Fog of Love was originally launched on Kickstarter. It's a classic example of the sort of crowdfunded game that would almost certainly not otherwise have been published. Since its launch, however, the game has achieved considerable retail success. It has quite literally proved therefore to be a game changer. If you're looking for an innovative two-player game for grown-ups, then Fog of Love is definitely a game you need to check out.