Play Unplugged Review – Apocalypse World

By Polar_Bear
In News
Jul 14th, 2012

Play Unplugged has Apocalypse World in their sites for review. See how they felt the game played.

From them to you:

It’s the end of the world as we know it, but so long as we have Apocalypse World, we’ll feel fine!

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I was born at a very young age. I plan on living forever. So far, so good.
  • lordofexcess

    Did they play the game before reviewing this or just read a few other reviews and then make up their own? It is technically correct but really gives someone who hasn’t played this game much of an idea about how AW actually plays. From this review I get a sense that the reviewer A) did not actually play AW and B) hasn’t had much actual play experience with indie RPGs.

    I think a few of the negatives, which this game does have plenty of negatives as all games do, are not well thought out. First the “Genre limiting” one is downright irritatingly untrue … I guess for lazy and unimaginative gamers this is true, “derp this game is about apocalypse derp … guess we can only do that with it.” However simply go on the magical internet and do some poking around and one will find that this is one of the most “hacked” systems of all time (hacked meaning being re-skinned for other genres, etc.). Second the “players feel restricted” well if your complete RPG noobs perhaps but if you have any indie RPG experience that is simply not the case. This game is all about how PCs relate to each other both good and bad … that can be re-skinned and played up or played down to whatever the MC (which is Baker calls the GM) and the players desire. You can re-skin any class and there are many now beyond what was in the book (more and more all the time thanks to all the people hacking this system and creating fan content).

    This is not a perfect game but it is very interesting and can provide an extraordinarily fun and creative experience for the right group. Long term campaign play is totally possible with it, but it takes some outside of the box thinking and what you end up with is sort of a succession of characters, you don’t generally end up playing the same character long term … maybe 5-10 sessions then you move on to the next character. There are alot of blanks that the MC needs to fill in with this game, things that aren’t spelled out in the book, things that aren’t very clear at first, etc. so yes it is a somewhat simple, very elegant set of rules, but depending on the MCs background and experience level it might not be that intuitive. It will take the average new MC some outside of the book research to really get a hang of things. As an indie game this is heavy on the “not in the book” stuff … the pacing of the game … spotlighting of PCs … etc. etc. it actually takes a decently skilled game master to really make this game shine. That might not be the kind of game a noob GM wants to tackle … or perhaps … it would work great … just depends on the individual and their players.

    This game is all about free form imaginative play though and players and the MC have to be creative and engaged pretty much continuously or the game can slow down and get dull really quick. No rolling up a character and laying there like the typical store troll slug player … this game doesn’t play itself. You can have some epic combats but this game isn’t a D&D style hack and slash game, there are far more combat focused games on the market so if that is what someone is looking for don’t look to this game.

    For the vast majority of RPG fans that is going to be a non-starter. This has appeal to only a very select group of people who like very open ended, creative, continuously engaged RPG experiences.

  • Hi LoE,

    Enrico here, I read through your comments, and I’ll pass them on as I always do. I can tell you for certain that your assumptions, A. and B. are both false. You are however certainly correct that the rules could be stripped out and used for anything. Honestly, most game’s mechanics can, but as written its a game about an apocalypse of some sort and I would think (editor talking not the reviewer, so I am guessing) it loses some of what it’s about, if it isn’t framed in that light.

    One thing I don’t understand about everything you wrote is you seem to think that the overall impression was negative and that the reviewer (Paul) didn’t like the game. The reason I say this is that you seem to be defending it (implied by both your attack on players who might not “get it” and your insistence on it being fun), but Paul clearly liked and recommended it. That’s the implication I’m getting, but of course it’s hard to understand the tone of someone’s text.

    Perhaps you didn’t think the review was detailed enough. We can certainly take that as constructive criticism, but please understand we are writing game reviews for the internet and we have to balance conveying critical information, while writing in an entertaining way that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

    Regardless you may be interested in the interview with D. Vincent Baker that will be coming soon. I’ll send it along once it is ready. As always thanks for the feedback, positive or negative and your continued visitation to the site.