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Side Quest: Nemesis & Side Quest: 7th Sea

Publishers Board&Dice are probably best known for their heavy euro games, many of which seem to begin with T (Tawantinsuyu, Tekhenu, Tiletum, Trismegistus et al), so their new Side Quest series of titles might be seen by some as a departure. The publisher have tho' previously published the Escape Tales games, and the Side Quest games are likewise designed by Jakub Caban and Bartosz Idzikowski. They are small box escape room style games and their standout feature is their setting in a board game universe. Both these first two Side Quest games represent Board&Dice partnering with another publisher, so Side Quest: 7th Sea is set in the universe of Chaosium's 7th Sea role-playing game and, for Side Quest: Nemesis, Board&Dice have partnered with Awaken Realms to venture into the setting for Nemesis, which steered perilously close to the Alien movie franchise without apparently infringing the IP.

Both Side Quest: Nemesis and Side Quest: 7th Sea are 1-4 player games. You can certainly play solitaire but part of the fun with these as with most other escape room games is being able to debate and bounce ideas off others, so they are best enjoyed with at least two or more players. The rules suggest up to four but the real upper limit for this cooperative game is the number that can sit comfortably round the table and look together at the components to work out the puzzles.

Without giving away any spoilers, both Side Quests use a 3D constructed 'board' and you'll be introduced at the start to the character you're controlling in your Side Quest. Both games involve a good mix of puzzles that are solved with a code-like combination of 'answer tiles', tho' you'll find some puzzles are better than others in that you might come across a puzzle or two that doesn't seem to have a particularly logical solution. However, hints are there if and when you need them and, from the outset, the games show you how you can check whether or not your puzzle solutions are correct.

Both these games are immediately playable out of the box with almost no rules overhead before you get started. Obviously if you know the source games you'll get an extra kick out of playing these Side Quests but they are both standalone games: you don't have to have played or have any prior knowledge of 7th Sea or Nemesis to play. That said, Side Quest: Nemesis captures much of the feel of the source game's exploration and activation of rooms on a space ship, and Side Quest: 7th Sea has an immediate RPG feel as its story unfolds.

The games have some alternative endings depending on what happens to you during the course of play but, like most escape room games, you probably won't want to play each of these games again once you've 'solved' the puzzles even to discover the other endings. Still, unlike some other games in this genre tho' (for example, Kosmos' Exit series) you won't be destroying any of the components, so these are games you can pass on to family and friends for them to play when you're done with them.

Where next for the Side Quest series? What other board games would particularly lend themselves to the escape room treatment?

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