Updated: Jul 23, 2021
Unlike, for example, Blockbuster and Blockbuster Returns (Big Potato), Pitchstorm is a movie-themed game where you really don't need to be a cineaste to play. It's a light storytelling party game where players (ideally 5 or 6, but you can play with almost any number) play the role of movie screenwriters pitching their ideas to a studio executive.
The prospective writers take three cards from either the Character or Plot decks and they choose one of them. They then combine that with a card drawn from the other deck, and this pairing of cards forms the basis of their pitch. They then have 45 seconds to make their pitch to the player who is taking on the role of studio executive. Unlike many other pitching and storytelling games like Funemployed (IronWall/Mattel) and Snake Oil (Out of the Box), the person judging the pitches isn't merely a passive listener: they have their own deck of Notes cards and they can play any of the three cards they draw in order to push changes to the pitch.
As with most storytelling games, the more you throw yourself into the spirit of this game the more you'll enjoy it. That said, designer Ben Kepner and publisher Skybound certainly haven't skimped on the contents. There are three hefty decks of cards; certainly enough to keep this game fresh through dozens of plays. If we had any criticism, it's that the cards sometimes do too much of the work: the Notes, in particular, inject a lot of humour which you'd normally expect to be generated by the players' invention and creativity. It's a very small gripe tho' because if you think the cards are doing too much, you can always substitute your own Notes, Characters and Plots, and there's even a few blank cards in the deck to facilitate this option.
If you enjoy storytelling party games, then Pitchstorm is certainly one to add to your collection. It's quick and easy to play, and it offers the option of playing individually or in teams. It's entirely inoffensive, in that none of the contents could be considered NSFW (Not Safe For Work); which makes it a more family-friendly option than the majority of other pitching/storytelling games. And if this game really does get your creative juices flowing then there's a further option to play in 'Writers' Room' mode where, in successive rounds, you are pitching the next season of a TV series. The additional conceit here is that what was said in each of the previous seasons' pitches has to be considered canonical so that the new pitch builds on what went before and makes use of all the characters and plot points. Can you make it through to Season 6 without getting cancelled?
But do please remember, Pitchstorm is just a humorous game rather than a serious screenwriting tool. I feel compelled to point this out after some recent viewing. Much as I enjoyed The Tomorrow War on Amazon Prime, for example, the film seems to throw so many disparate ideas, tropes and underbaked concepts at the audience over the course of its 138 minutes that I was left with a sneaking suspicion that the script emerged from a game of Pitchstorm :-)
(Review by Selwyn Ward)