Sleeping Gods

Sleeping Gods was Kickstarter’s biggest challenge yet in successfully acquiring me as a backer. The $70 base pledge is a tall order coming from a publisher and designer that I have no prior experience with. On top of that, this is a style of game that I have never even played before. The art and presentation are certainly alluring, but the pessimism was strong within me.

How am I supposed to know whether I like a storybook adventure game? Won’t this just feel like a more clumsy, fiddly version of a video game, book, or movie? What if I start playing and quickly discover that I blew $70 + shipping on a game that is clearly not for me?

I had plenty of reasons to stand my ground and let this campaign ship sail, yet I ended up backing Sleeping Gods. Ryan Laukat, you sly dog. So how did he do it?

Well, that dang artwork and concept was so well imagined and executed that I wanted this unique game to work for me. I think this kind of thing happens all the time to us gamers. Just look at something like PARKS, Camel Up, Horrified, or plenty of others. Strip away the gorgeous artwork, the inviting theme, the killer components, and much of what makes those games shine is lost. PARKS becomes a generic resource collector, Camel Up becomes a luck-infused dice roller, Horrified looks like an off-brand Pandemic copy-cat . Moral of the story: don’t underestimate the value of a unique theme, quality art, and thoughtful production.

The stellar presentation of Sleeping Gods wasn’t enough on its own to get me to bite. I still needed to find something within the gameplay that made me say, “Ooo, this looks fun!” Who helped me to uncover that fun? None other than Rahdo, himself.

Oddly enough, my opinion on games hardly even aligns with Rahdo’s. Usually when he says, “Too mean,” I say, “Just right.” Yet, I’ve found Rahdo’s run-throughs to be extremely valuable in communicating the puzzly tension of certain games. It took me a lot of deep digging into the project page and beyond, but Rahdo is exactly what I needed to push me over the edge on both Sleeping Gods and the next game I backed, Calico.


Calico

Like Sleeping Gods, Calico is game that tempted me initially but required more effort to earn my pledge. I could tell it filled a similar niche as Azul and Sagrada, which have been big hits with my wife. But on the surface level, I had no way of knowing whether this one would measure up to its competition and justify its place on our game shelf.

Once more, it was Rahdo’s runthrough that uncovered the excruciating tension lurking within Calico’s gameplay. Before watching his play-through, this was just a cute puzzly quilting game with cats, and I was mildly interested. After watching his play-through, this was an agonizing feline challenge with colorful, crunchy decisions, and I was a backer.

These kinds of video previews that not only show how a game plays but how a game feels to play are often critical factors in earning a dip into my wallet.


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