Updated: Jul 20
We first featured Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift three years ago on Board's Eye View. It remains one of our favourite dungeon crawlers so we were super excited when Dragon Dawn Productions announced plans for a card game version of Perdition's Mouth. We knew that we'd miss the great minis from the original game and, sadly, the rondel that affects players' options, but we were attracted by the prospect of a slightly more portable game and eager to see what designer Nikolas Lundstrom Patrakka had in store for us. We weren't disappointed!
Beyond the Rift is a standalone game. You don't need to have played Perdition's Mouth to enjoy it but its setting is a continuation of that universe because, as the title suggests, it starts where Abyssal Rift ends. It's a fully co-operative game for 1-4 players where you control heroes battling through a series of challenging scenarios. Each hero has their own unique capabilities and uses their own unique deck of cards but you'll modify that deck as you move on from one scenario to the next. This isn't a deck builder in the conventional sense, however. Success in a scenario can win you cards that effectively level up your character but if you take wounds, then the wound cards can handicap you and make things harder. A similar exercise in realism was part of what made Perdition's Mouth such a challenging game, so it's good to see a parallel mechanic in this card game.
Players start each round with a set number of action points that can be used to pay for a variety of actions, including combat with the orcs, cultists and insectoid enemies unleashed by each of the scenarios. Cards can be used individually or chained together in combination for attack and defence, and they can also be played to earn more action points. You need to be wary tho' about cycling through your deck too rapidly because that will give you fatigue (cards that clog up your hand). You can play fatigue and wound cards as part of an attack but they will have the effect of weakening that attack.
Beyond the Rift uses a 'Response Card' deck to control the enemies: the card drawn is cross-referenced with each enemy type to determine what action that enemy takes. The same deck is also used to modify the enemies' combat results. When you attack an enemy, its defence will be the number on its card plus whatever is shown on the Response Card drawn... That can give players a dilemma: do you make an attack with just enough strength in the hope of a relatively low card draw or do you make sure of success at the risk of your overkill unnecessarily burning through your cards?
You can adjust the toughness of setup but Beyond the Rift is always going to be a challenging game. It wouldn't follow in the Perdition's Mouth tradition if that wasn't so. You have great flexibility over how to use your action points, and we especially enjoyed this optimisation puzzle aspect of play. We were also impressed with they way in which the hero characters can be made to interact and bolster each other's actions. This makes the scenarios really stand out as truly cooperative ventures. It's also why we'd recommend that solo players take two characters on each scenario rather than playing with just one.
Beyond the Rift is coming to Kickstarter on 19 July. Shown here on Board's Eye View is a preview prototype of the game, so the finished version may look a little different. We're hoping, for example, that more of Jamie Noble-Frier's art will be on the cards. Click here to check out the KS campaign.