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A roll 'n' write oldie

Utopia Engine is a roll-and-write game designed years before the current roll-and-write craze (these games were not even called roll-and-writes back in 2010). And yet, it doesn't show its age and could very well have been released today.

I'm not a big fan of the genre, but this one has attractive looks and an interesting storyline. You play as Isodoros, an 'artificer', who is trying to gather and connect the parts of an engine, hoping to forestall the advent of Doomsday. In order to achieve this, he searches six different areas on a nicely illustrated map.

You only need two dice. I just alternated the colours.

Searching is performed by rolling two dice three times, then each time recording the result in the designated box. Ideally, the difference when you subtract the bottom number from the upper number should be very small or even zero. If you don't roll well and get a big difference, you have an encounter with an enemy.

You keep rolling and subtracting over and over until you eventually collect all six parts of the engine. Then, you proceed to the activation phase where more rolling and subtracting takes place, and finally reach the connection phase in which you check if the engine actually works. The game is simple and engaging, but it runs a bit long. If the dice don't roll in your favour, you have some means of mitigation (your toolkit, and a chance to gain more time). You may also plan to visit the locations in a specific order or try to face one of the harder monsters, as every little reward goes a long way.

I didn't win in the end, because I didn't get a low enough total in the final activation. As the PnP is just two pages, it's very easy to print and give it a go. The map literally says 'liven me up with colour pencils', and I recommend that you do so as a relaxing activity. Because the game takes around two hours to finish and can feel a bit repetitive, it is not one to play frequently. Still, it is enjoyable and involving, so it's worth spending an evening rolling and writing your numbers down. The Beast Hunter expansion gives a new storyline and variation on the mechanisms. And new pictures to colour too.

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