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Wasteland Wednesday - A4 Quest: Inhuman

I did a quick search for post-apocalyptic Print 'n' Play games, and only found one that almost fits what I'm looking for: the latest installment in the A4 Quest series, called Inhuman. As you may already know, all A4 Quest episodes can be played by printing out just two pages: one for the adventure, and one for your hero stats. The very first A4 Quest was a basic dungeon crawl, then the creators branched out into swamps, forests, space, and Christmas. And last month, they released the first part of a trilogy set in a dystopian urban landscape.

Before delving into the adventure, I took a few minutes to look at the artwork. I mention this because, during my playthrough, my attention was focused on nothing but symbols. In Inhuman, you are playing as either a young male or female character, Damon or Josie, and start inside a seemingly empty room with a table and a screen (?) on the wall. As you progress from room to room, you see a fridge, neon lights, and a blood-spattered toilet. A menacing caped figure is waiting outside. Another enemy with a beast on a leash is meant to ambush you one floor below. And if you manage to reach the building exit, you will have to face a couple of armed cops before escaping.

A4 Quest is a dice rolling and dice allocation game. You start by rolling 4 dice, then decide how you want to spend the results. If there is an enemy in the room, you are forced to fight them. Each room will also give you the chance to gain health, food, or increase your attack and defense. This particular adventure allows you to save your stats in order to continue in the next part of the trilogy, when it comes out, campaign-style.

Even though this may be the most intriguing environment created for the game so far, I found the gameplay too dry and mechanical. This is a well-loved design in the community, and many gamers appreciate that everything works within the space of two A4 papers. For this reason alone, it would be a shame not to try it. However, this is a game I will likely not play again, even if the system is replayable thanks to the randomness of the dice. The biggest problem for me is that the resource management overshadows the theme, and, even though the artwork is good, the flavour is sadly missing. I only look at the numbers I roll, and the resources I lose and gain. Sure, it's not a big deal when the session lasts for only 15 minutes but I guess I would prefer something more vivid and, well, human.


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