Quick Review: Umbra

What is it? A solo mapping game that sees you create a new colony on a remote planet. Building the colony one room at a time you will explore the strange new world and survive relentless attacks as you attempt to unearth the fabled Reapers Gambit.

Who is it by? Anna Blackwell, a Glasgow based designer and author of hit games such as Delve and Apothecaria.

Why should you play it? Umbra, like the fantasy orientated Delve before it, builds on the Dwarf Fortress base building approach to gameplay. While there is no inherent narrative you can’t help but wonder about the lives of your colonists and their (hopefully) growing settlement. You could easily play it without even pausing to consider the story that emerges naturally during play but that, I think, would be missing the point.

The game has a deceptive complexity, driven by the growing size of your colony, and it’s all too easy to get drawn into the lives of your colonists before chaos breaks loose and your careful plans for exploration come crashing down around you. As I progress forwards with the Dyson Eclipse I plan to use the game (and its Stations expansion in particular) to develop some of the Arrays and the lives of the inhabitants as humanity spreads across Tau Ceti and begins to uncover its secrets.

Where can you get it? Umbra is available directly from Anna’s store in print and PDF. It’s also available in digital format from itch.io.

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