Recently had a chance to try a fun co-op with an intricate setup and thematic elements of the minotaur’s labyrinth adapted into a sci-fi setting (a treat for a mythology buff like me).
It starts with a great concept: players are captives of an alien race trying to perform a jail break and escape. All players must reach the exit (escape pod) at the same time to escape/win. The hook with Daedalus Sentence is the board comprised of concentric circles that rotate in between player turns. The mechanic is well implemented and nicely compliments independently moving guard patrols (including amusingly named/themed shock troops called Minotaurs) to really give the feeling of navigating a maze as players try to adapt. There’s an exploration aspect too, as the rooms start face down and have different powers available (and possibly extra guards to avoid) as the players reveal them.
The pace of the game really ramps up as players progress to each new ring and raise the game’s “alert level.” The higher the alert the more times the rings rotate and the guards move per turn. So at the beginning the players have some breathing room to plan a bit, but then things get extremely hectic. I liked the progression and the way the increasing pressure keeps the game engaging.
It did seem like the game could bog down at the end as players have incentives to play things slow and safe though. The capture mechanic is also a mixed bag, as it makes a lot of sense thematically but having a player literally have nothing to do until someone comes all the way back to the beginning of the “maze” to get them can hurt the pacing.
I tried this with 2 players, and liked the game balance. I’m not sure about the scalability with more players, as it felt like I had the perfect number of actions to make my turns meaningful. I understand to keep the difficulty intact the players as a group need to be limited to a certain number of actions, but there’s a lot of upkeep between turns and with fewer actions per player I could see upkeep vs actual playing time (for each person) to skew in the wrong direction. Curious to find out.
There is a small amount of randomness in what rooms are used on the outer rings, but for the most part after a couple games you’ll know what you’re going to find on each level. Some extra exploration incentives (items to find, etc) would help replayability. It would also be nice to have ways to help people get back to cells, or something for captured players to do while they wait.
Overall though while there’s room for improvement in Daedalus Sentence what is here is fairly innovative and a lot of fun. I can see myself playing several times before it felt “solved,” and having varying player powers to try also helps shake things up a bit from game to game. While longevity could be an issue, the atmosphere is incredible and the game will be a blast for at the very least a few games.