WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 1-4
Published by: dV Giochi
Disclaimer. This game was provided for free for purposes of a review by the publisher. This review will only show parts of the game available to you at the start of chapter one to avoid any spoilers.
Open up the board in Wonder Book, and you will be treated to a pop-up delight! It is seriously impressive and will draw you in from the off. The box art is stunning...
And the inside is even better. Just check this video out to see how impressive this is!
OK, with all that peacocking out of the way, let's get the game to the table and see how it plays.
Starting Wonder Book is very easy. There are six chapters (called adventures) for you to go on. Each neatly arranged in a different deck of cards. Take the first deck out of the box and open it up. This will talk you through the basics of how to play the game. It is worth having a quick read of the short rules too, that will explain the basic premise. But you will pick it up pretty easily if you have played similar games before and you could go straight to the cards and use the reference guide on the back of the the rule book if you wanted.
Lay out all the health tokens, two bad guys (Wyrm's) for each player playing, and the different decks of cards, shuffled and placed face down. You are now ready to start your adventure. read the opening dialogue and intro on the first few cards. Welcome to Oniria! Or at least, the gateway to it. It wasn't going to be that easy now was it?
How to Play
I cannot say too much about this game without giving away spoilers but I will give you the basics so you can get a flavour. You will be working your way through six chapters in a cooperative adventure. On your turn, you can take three actions. This is mainly to move, fight, pick up sparks (to activate your special power), interact with an item, or use a special skill (with your sparks). Players can play in any turn, whatever the group feels will best suit them in the game. When all players are done any Wyrm's present will then take their turn. You do this by flipping one card from the Wyrm deck. This will show how many Wyrm's to add to the play area and how many actions they will take. There are sometimes some special actions as well, but again, no spoilers here.
As you progress through the game, more cards will be added to the Wyrm deck that increase their powers, but below are two cards from chapter one to show you how they look and work.
As you play through the cards used in each chapter, new characters will be introduced, magical items will appear, and all sorts of surprises will be encountered. As new powers, items, and objects come into the game, it will all feel very simple. Just follow the cards. I would love to share all the exciting things you will see in this game as they are amazing, and also quite unexpected at times in terms of how they are delivered. But I wouldn't want to spoil anything for you. All I will say is there is something very cool each chapter.
Below is a very minor spoiler, but you will learn this very early in chapter one, but skip on to below this picture if you prefer.
At the start of chapter one, you will be asked to flip over the book to show the back page. This becomes the play area for this first part of the game. On it, you will be collecting sparks to activate your skills, interacting with objects you place there, collecting items, and fighting the Wyrm's! But more will come, very soon!
Ok, you are safe again.
Fighting is the only disappointing part of the game. It's pretty basic. Just rolling some dice that show either success or failure. But you can re-roll for the cost of one health. And you will get extra powers as the game progresses. But the initial fights feels a little stale. However, each character has their own way of fighting, using different numbers of dice in different ways. It's just a shame there are not more options for each individual character.
The dice create the main issues in the game. If you win, it is largely because you rolled lots of hits. If you loose, it is because you rolled lots of fails. And loosing means you have to go through the chapter again. It won't take that long to complete each chapter. Between 40-60 minutes depending on player count and player age. But repeating missions for younger players can be frustrating.
The rules suggest that when you are done with the six chapters, you may want to play the whole thing again, to see what you missed and maybe get another ending. There are six in total. But I am unsure if this will be that appealing to most. It feels like a one and done to me. Which is fine. I loved the five hours I had playing through these chapters. I felt there was a lot of value to this, and have reset the game to gift to a friend to play with their family. But, repeating missions or the entire game is not something I can see myself doing. However, going through the game this first time was wonderful and very much enough for me to justify the cost of the game. It really was quite magical.
Is it Fun
The sense of adventure in this game is high. Superseded only by the huge sense of discovery. Some of the tricks this game throws at you are sensational. I was blown away at some of the little things you could do, or find as the game developed.
When it was over, I was gushing and wanted to tell everyone about what I had done. I want to do that here too! But, you know... spoilers!! So, all I will say is that if you have children between six and ten, there is no game right now I would recommend higher if you want some quality family time based around a game.
The dice throws are luck based of course and may put people off, but this is the only down side to the game. The rest of it is brilliant, and I think most people would really enjoy it. My family certainly did. We played through the six chapters in three nights. Only one chapter needed to be replayed as we lost, and we enjoyed doing it again. Although we did race through it the second time somewhat, knowing what was needed and how best to navigate through it quickly.
There are certain points in the story where you must make a choice, stay and fight, progress forward, help a friend. That sort of thing. Playing chapters again gives you a chance to change your decisions here and see what path the story weaves this time. It is fun to do this, but there are not enough changes in each chapter to really make you want to do it again. But if you have to repeat a chapter then this is a nice option to have.
The game will throw some interesting dexterity based mini games at you and your fellow adventurers. These are fun to try, quite unexpected, but link into the story very well. Playing these the first time is a a lot of fun. Repeating one mission, I did enjoy having another opportunity to do these again.
I would highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a story based adventure game to play with their children. Anyone who wants a game to add an element of discovery to their table will be very happy with this. Wonder Book looks amazing from the off, and continues to deliver with some exciting surprises along the way. The story is interesting, and winning the game feels highly satisfying, if somewhat easy. It feels like you are completing a story. Your actions affect your ability to progress your characters through the adventure and your reward is a (blank) ending. Remember, no spoilers!
I look forward to see what the publisher and designer does with this game next. A new version? Expansions? Added chapters? I hope I am not done with it. I enjoyed my time on Oniria immensely, and cannot wait to go back.