Review: London Dread
The following is a review of London Dread, received as part of the Amazon Vine program.
Cooperative and Atmospheric, But Probably Best With A Single Group of Four
London Dread is a cooperative board game for two to four players, where they attempt to travel around London over the course of a day or two, investigating areas, tackling location events, before taking on an antagonist, and then eventually moving on to another story.
With the free companion app (available for both Android and iOS devices) parts of the story are voiced, background effects are added, and the timed portions, which are the planning parts, is all taken care of. With more and more board games offering companion apps, this optional tool only adds to the already atmospheric game that is London Dread.
The artwork on the board, cards, and character sheets and markers, is quite well done, and fits the general atmosphere of the game.
The game itself involves selecting a story and placing, facedown, appropriate cards. Then players have an opportunity to flip over the cards that were placed to determine where key plot cards are, as well as enemies that must be faced.
Next there’s a timed phase, with the difficulty helping to determine the time allowed, where each player plans how their character will move during the day, allowing for a direction of travel to be made, or movement to one of six spaces in each of the four directions (north, east, south, and west).
Then the actions are carried out, with characters using their abilities, or drawn cards, to attempt to complete tasks, or otherwise complete the location’s card. (You’ll also probably find that you made a mistake during the timed portion, but hopefully nothing too bad that you lose outright.)
Assuming all plot cards are handled the antagonist is confronted and the story either continues or ends.
London Dread really seems to be designed for four dedicated players, with two and three player options being slightly tacked on (but still playable). I believe that it may have been designed for the same four people to go through all the stories in the game on the lowest difficulty, and then progressing up through the others, or perhaps recruiting other people to play.
The game also relies upon dice, and has a pretty significant setup time, so people who aren’t very lucky rolling dice may not have much fun, and you’ll probably want to prepare the game before playing with a new group. The 60 to 90 minute play time is also quite accurate, and will take longer the first couple times you play.
Ultimately, I’ve enjoyed London Dread, despite not yet being able to play it with four people, or completing all of the stories. I do slightly worry about replayability, since there do not yet appear to be any expansions that add additional stories. So, once you complete what’s in the box you’re pretty much going to need to just complete them at higher difficulties. That might be for you, or it might be that your group will be ready to move on.
Since it is a cooperative game, it is also possible that you could try playing the game solo, taking on the roles of more than one character, however, when I tried this I found there to be way too much for a single person to keep track of.
For these reasons I give London Dread four of five stars. With amazing atmosphere and great components it looks great. However, four dedicated players is probably the best experience to be had.
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