If you like playing Matt Leacock's Pandemic (Z-Man) but want to take your mind off concerns over the Covid-19 Coronavirus, then you'll be on the lookout for an alternative fully cooperative game. There's a tranche of Cthulhu themed games where all the players have to work together to fend off fiendish portals and demons from another realm before they descend into insanity but that's not a theme that appeals to everyone. That's where Wizkids' Nemo Rising comes in.
The eponymous Captain Nemo was the central protagonist in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea but this game isn't based on Verne's 19th Century novel but on the much more recent 'sequel' penned by C Courtney Joyner. This had Nemo reprieved from execution by US President Ulysses S Grant in order to enlist his help in defeating another foe. In Nemo Rising, 1–4 players are spending action points to move around a board, explore the initially facedown locations and try to secure them while fending off wandering monsters. Almost every task requires one or more of the three icons representing brains, brawn and skill. You'll have a choice of action card, which is likely to guarantee you at least one of the three icons. That means you may be able equip yourself to be able to secure a particular location with certainty; otherwise, you'll be dependent on succeeding in a die roll using the customised six-sided dice, which give you a one in three chance of success.
As in most cooperative games, you're up against a countdown timer that ticks down every time you take certain action cards, when you are unsuccessful in defending an attack and when you fail in attempting to secure a location. You need to complete the two missions drawn at the start of the game and get all the players' avatars back to the start before your mission points hit zero. And, as you might expect, things get tougher as the game progresses and more and more monsters flood onto the board and, worse, queue outside locations (at the instant cost of two mission points). You'll be hoping that the Gear you collect when securing locations will give you the advantage you need to complete the game.
The art team of Nikita Nanako, Mircea Nicula, Mirco Paganessi, Radial Studio, Max Schiller and Raymond Swanland have done well to create an atmospheric steampunk environment. Meanwhile, designers Andrew Parks and Matthew Cattron have done an effective job in creating an accessible cooperative game; and one that plays well solitaire (where it is actually slightly easier). The game comes with two sets of location cards, threat cards and missions, so this feels like you're getting two games for the price of one. Even within each set, there's plenty of replayability because of the varying set up and because you'll be randomly selecting two missions out of the several in the box.
Nemo Rising is easy to teach and learn, so could be good choice for introducing new players to cooperative board games. As in many coops, games can turn on the luck or otherwise of a few die rolls but Nemo Rising plays quickly (you'll either win or be overwhelmed in not much more than 30 minutes) so that's not a big issue.