Before I begin, I was sent a review copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid review. If you would like to watch a video of this review check it out below, and you can learn more about the game here. Copies available online or at your FLGS.
If you are lucky enough to be my age then you remember playing Space Invaders in the arcade…or pizza parlor. You also remember seeing Independence Day in the theatre, and thinking it was completely reasonable for Jeff Goldblum to disable the aliens with a Mac. It also means that you are pretty much the target of Under Falling Skies, a solo player mashup of those two glorious bits of nostalgia.
In Under Falling Skies you will utilize dice placement to save the world. Or at least a single city in the world. (Or more if you play the legacy campaign). To save each city you will need to advance your alien research to the top of the board before either the mothership descends close enough to blow up the city, or the alien fighters destroy your base of operations.
To do this, you will be placing dice on rooms that will do one of the following: blow up some alien fighters, advance your research, give you power to activate these rooms, build a robo worker, or dig deeper into the Earth to unlock more rooms. However, the catch is every time you place a die, the alien ships descend by whatever number is on the die. So the more powerful the die, the quicker the aliens descend. Gulp.
Either you defeat the aliens…or you don’t, and it all happens in about 20 minutes. If you choose to play the campaign you will go through 4 chapters of battles, where you are forced to choose where to fight, and as you play more things are unlocked, and your choices do have an effect on what you can do later in the game. Not gonna say anymore…cause spoilers.
So what do I think?
The game is fast, and simple. It is not easy…not even close, but it is so simple to learn. Yet buried inside its relative simplicity is a flummoxing Gordian knot of alien blasting goodness. There is something just delightful about the choice of where to place your dice to balance getting what you need, and delaying the alien advancement. There are times when this game makes you feel like a genius, and other times when it makes you feel like you are so incompetent that you deserve to be blasted into nothingness. It is just a delight.
Additionally, the game comes with a very fun, and very challenging resettable campaign. Now I am not going to say anything about it, cause…again, spoilers. But suffice it to say, it is fun, and I like it quite a bit.
I like the way the game looks. It manages to capture that old school video game vibe without going the 8bit route which is not particularly my favorite art style. The components are sturdy, and pack away small…though if you have carpet be careful about dropping those alien ships…they are more dangerous than a lego on the floor vs bare feet.
The game has an odd table footprint. It is incredibly long, and will wind up taking up a rather large amount of space. The game is also, as I mentioned before quite challenging, so if you are of the mind that you want your game to actually be “easy” on easy mode, then be prepared for it not to be!
Bringing it all together
Under Falling Skies absolutely captures the vibe of the old Space Invaders mashed up with Independence Day. The dice placement mechanics are just a delight and keeps the tension high throughout the 20 minute game. The puzzle is such a delight that you will find yourself vacillating between feeling like a brilliant strategist, and utter dullard within moment. It is awesome. The game has a bit on an odd footprint, and really is quite hard. While, I won’t say anything about it, the resettable legacy campaign is very fun, and considering the price of the package it is an incredible value.
Can’t read! Aliens!
* Extremely simple to learn, extremely hard to master
* Theme is absolutely realized
* Legacy campaign is a delight
* The dice placement puzzle is a wonderful balancing act between risk and reward
* Takes up an odd amount of space on the table
* The game is very challenging
* You get a lot for the price