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The Shining Creates An Impression - Review

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19 Mar 2020 00:00 #308313 by Michael Barnes
...

 An impressionistic, sure to be divisive design from Prospero Hall.

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19 Mar 2020 13:54 #308314 by Shellhead
There was a fan-made board game about The Shining made years ago, and Stephen King apparently liked it. It was available as a free PnP game, but it looked to me like a thematic mismatch focused on gathering weapons and fighting topiary animals. This new game looks better, but I think I would rather try before I buy.

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19 Mar 2020 14:36 #308317 by Josh Look
Before someone posts some tired wishy-washy “I already have ________, so I don’t need this” bullshit that, by the way, you could have just as easily NOT posted, I will say that I would love to give this game a go. I don’t have it (yet) and it’s unlikely I’d get to play it anytime soon, but it’s a light waiting at the end of the tunnel for me.

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19 Mar 2020 14:42 - 19 Mar 2020 14:47 #308319 by Jackwraith
Hrm. So, every opinion I've seen on this game before this, including on TWBG by Frohike, has been somewhere between indifferently and resoundingly negative. I get the "impressionistic" approach, even if it is, as you say, a complete departure from everything else Prospero Hall has done to date. But I'm wondering if this isn't an indication of "We had the license, but we couldn't make a decent game out of it, so here's the stripped-down version. Contract completed!"

You mention that the immersive quality of both Jaws and Villainous ("lovingly detailed") are kind of the hallmark of PH. You could make the same argument for Funkoverse and Horrified, given the high artistic quality of the boards and the attention to detail for the dozens of powers/monsters so far revealed. Their overriding philosophy seems to be that attention to detail, such that when you play the Evil Queen in Villainous, you're immersed in the world of Snow White and it feels like a brilliant translation of character and film. The Shining doesn't sound like that; either from Kubrick's more external, dynamic perspective or King's internal, the-horror-of-knowin'-stuff perspective.

I contrast this with something like Wavelength. The latter has become a hit, not just among "gamerz" but also the norms, not for its relatively simple game play, but for the experience that it provides for group interaction (a HUGE factor in any kind of board game experience, IMO.) Is someone going to come out of a play of The Shining feeling like they just played a round of bridge (take the risk of bidding for x number of tricks, etc.) or like they experienced the weirdness of Room 237 or Danny's horror at seeing inside the mind(s) of the hotel and his father? I mean, bridge can be exciting, if you enjoy it. But it's not The Shining, which depends on the atmospherics (stranded up in the mountains in a seemingly haunted hotel with an unstable father and knowing how all of this is going to go down but not being able to do anything about it) to make the story work. Is there THAT much tension in game play to engender the kind of visceral dread that both characters in the story and readers/viewers get with book/film?

I think PH didn't achieve what they wanted with Jaws and my suspicions are that they have the same problem here unless you're part of a very narrow target audience that likes number-crunching and vaguely push-your-luck games. From everything I've read, it sounds like their usual stylistic touches are present (short game is 4 month stay, long game is 5 month stay, etc.) but if anything deserves a "baroque" approach, one could argue that Stephen King's novels do, no?
Last edit: 19 Mar 2020 14:47 by Jackwraith.
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19 Mar 2020 15:46 - 19 Mar 2020 15:55 #308323 by Frohike
I don't think this design was even up to the task of conveying the atmosphere of the film or book beyond a couple of conceits: the "all work and no play" shtick with game text (on the manual and the event cards), and the artwork (though the board itself is too abstracted to really capitalize on this). With a subject like The Shining, there needs to be a little more for players to latch onto, though maybe not your average Target shopper who'll bring this home and throw it in the closet with their copy of CaH. I think it was missing the two-phased approach that PH has used in games like Jaws, and each player should really have their own identity/character/ability beyond "carekeeper" or "corrupted." This design just feels like a missed opportunity to me. One more development pass to add just a little something extra could have capitalized on the atmosphere that it seemingly only banked on with the art. The misconceptions of The Shining as a corruption/illness to counter with Willpower, along with bourbon being the uber-willpower token ("hah, liquid courage, get it?" ... ) also indicate that not much care was given to either the Stephen King or Stanley Kubrick source material.

It's "impressionistic" in all the wrong, phoned in, mass market ways. I don't dig it.
Last edit: 19 Mar 2020 15:55 by Frohike.
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19 Mar 2020 18:47 #308341 by Michael Barnes
Ah, see- divisive! But that's GOOD!

I don't agree at all, I think this game was written up by folks that wanted to do something other than the usual, expected thing because the license deserves something beyond running from an automated Jack Torrance miniature across a map of the hotel.

The implication isn't that the Shining is the corruption. The implication is that ALL of the caretaker players have the Shining - hence the visions they all receive. The corruption comes from the hotel itself and its history. As it should be.

The Whiskey is an important element of the film. Jack's alcoholism, his frequent visits to Lloyd...and it represents drinking the stress of being bombarded with these awful images away. I don't think it's as facile as "liquid courage".

I think it's totally up to the challenge of representing the -feeling- of the film and its themes...but it is true that it does so, like I said, in a rather impressionistic way. Look at the box cover- the Hicks carpet blurs out in a very, shall we say, Impressionist style, doesn't it?

I feel like in some ways this is their most experimental design...the volleyball in Top Gun was pretty out there, but this...I think they went in a different direction than what was expected, and that direction is maybe not as immediately arresting or engaging to most game players.

I -really- wonder what this crew would do with A Clockwork Orange.
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19 Mar 2020 18:59 #308342 by hotseatgames

Michael Barnes wrote: I -really- wonder what this crew would do with A Clockwork Orange.


First player token is clearly a giant penis sculpture
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19 Mar 2020 19:02 #308344 by Michael Barnes
I was thinking something along the lines of that horrifying Shut Ya Mouth game but with eye clamps instead of mouth clamps..
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19 Mar 2020 19:54 #308348 by Jackwraith
When challenging for first player, you have to ask: "'New way'? What's this about a 'new way'?"
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19 Mar 2020 21:48 #308355 by Shellhead

Michael Barnes wrote: The Whiskey is an important element of the film. Jack's alcoholism, his frequent visits to Lloyd...and it represents drinking the stress of being bombarded with these awful images away. I don't think it's as facile as "liquid courage".


Interesting point. It is possibly the dividing point between King's book and Kubrick's movie. King clearly wanted the emphasis to be on the haunted hotel, but showed some sympathy for Jack, his proxy in the story. It's about the horror of being an alcoholic. In his introduction to Dr. Sleep, King noted, “The man who wrote Doctor Sleep is very different from the well-meaning alcoholic who wrote The Shining.”

By contrast, Kubrick uses The Shining to look at alcoholism from a detached, clinical distance. He plays up Wendy's fear of Jack long before the hotel gets to him, and frowns mightily on Jack's bullshit excuses. Hmm. I just had a disturbing thought... there are possibly going to be some similar dynamics playing out in many homes in the coming months, with dysfunctional families spending an unusual amount of time together due to coronavirus.
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22 Mar 2020 10:35 #308433 by drewcula
So... When will MB be selling his copy?

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22 Mar 2020 22:15 #308458 by Frohike
It'll be on clearance soon enough.

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