This is a solo or co-operative card based fantasy adventure game where your adventuring hero will navigate a world map of 25 locations set out in random grid at the start of the game. You will journey around the map, encountering events, meeting strangers or fighting monsters, with each character trying to complete their own quest line and level up their abilities during their game. The core questline is to find keywords which are obtained by investigating the locations and having various encounters, and it is all very RPG like with familiar hero classes and core statistics to improve on your journey.
As you adventure, the world around you is descending into gloom, and each night one of the location cards will flip to its darkened side and no longer provide its bonus effects. As such, time is precious as the increasing gloom will lead to the appearance of an ancient enemy who you must defeat in a final showdown. Each game therefore distils a story about your hero into one game session, and will offer a different combinations of skills, items and spells and a changing world environment. The game does not have any written storyline as such, and so to get the best experience you do need to use your imagination to convert your encounters into a connected storyline, which is pretty standard for most roleplaying experiences.
A major selling point of this game is the card artwork which is truly amazing, and worth the entry cost alone. However there is also a good adventure to be had with this game, and there is a lot of replayability due to the random map set up, gloom applications and the encounter decks are large enough not to throw the same ones at your each game. The game is quite tough to beat and does have time pressure, and also i initially found is a little fiddly to remember some of the interactive encounter rules which are there to add depth of course, but sometimes works against the game flowing smoothly. That said it is a really lovely product and it will provide you a satisfying, albeit challenging adventure story every time.
There are expansions you can add to enhance or change the gameplay (my additions highlighted green = own, blue = part owned, red = not purchased) :
The most important expansion for this game is the encounter pack to vary your encounter decks and rewards with new surprises and this deck has compatible artwork from the original artist.
Pimp My Gloom
As a result of popular requests a pimp pack was added which enlarged the map cards to tarot size, added more dice, a larger bag to pull treasures from and added standees for the ancients. A tempting addition but apart from the tarot location cards not overly essential.
Shadows of Kilforth
More than an expansion this was a second stand alone box set with a more eastern theme to the locations and encounter cards which are compatible with the original edition to really expand the randomness of a game. There are new artists involved here, and whilst it remains very good still, i am ultimately content with the original version and would still choose it as my preferred edition.
There is both a large playmat for the world map cards and a choice of individual player mats available. All are very nice with good artwork if you want the game to look even better, and the large world map is a useful addition to build your world on.