Quick Review: The Wretched

Who is it by? Chris Bisette of Loot the Room

What’s it about? Dying alone in space. Heavily inspired by Alien and similar horror movies The Wretched positions you as the lone survivor of an attack by an alien entity you have, temporarily, managed to blast into space. With the clock ticking can you survive long enough to repair your ship or be rescued before the alien once again gains access? Or will the Jenga tower tumble and send you to a doom you always knew was coming.

What system does it use? The core mechanic, available for general use via the Wretched & Alone SRD, combines narrative prompts with the tension of a Jenga tower. Pull a card, resolve the associated prompt and if directed make a pull from the tower. While some cards will aid you in your quest for survival the vast majority will push you closer to calamity, represented by either the collapse of the tower or pulling all four aces from the deck.

Why should you try it? Solo gaming has exploded over the past couple of years and The Wretched has been one of the core foundations of that explosion. Games such as Dread had already demonstrated the ability of block towers to impart tension into games so The Wretched, with its tale of doomed survival, was a natural next step. The Jenga tower builds a tremendous amount of tension and combined with the extremely tight writing works to put you in the mindset of the survivor. Subsequent games from other creators (such as my own in-development game: Rock Hoppers) have built on its foundations but for me this remains a go-to example of how to mesh genre and mechanics into a flawless whole.

Where can you get it? You can purchase the game in print directly from the Loot the Room store while PDF copies are available from both itch.io and drivethruRPG.

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