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Thoughts on The 7th Continent

Today, I would like to share some thoughts about The 7th Continent.

Marion and I are around 20 hours into the game, close to lifting the first curse of the Voracious Goddess. So far, we are having a blast. Marion is even considering calling it her favourite game ever, just to say.

The 7th Continent

There is so much cleverness and elegance packed into this game, it is insane. So many different kind of actions to do, so many places to explore, and always with a great sense of purpose, which leads to tough and exciting decisions. It really feels like a well-balanced open-world type of game, even more than games like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Time Stories or Arabian Nights.

Just like any open-world type of game, and I am talking about video games here as well, players have to enjoy the journey more than the destination. I see a few people on the internet frustrated that they have played 2 hours without making progress in their quest. To enjoy the 7th continent, players have to like exploring this world for 2 hours, not knowing whether they are making progress. Saying that, the game could have had more hints built in, so players can look at them whenever they reach their point of frustration. The game provides one clue, which is great and to be fair absolutely necessary. Then there could be a second hint that’s very vague, a third one more specific and a fourth one that actually gives you the answer. Many point-and-click video games do that, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective has that to a certain extent too (players can talk to Sherlock during the game if they are stuck). It would help appeal to more players and ultimately make sure nobody gets frustrated.

On another note, the designers managed to make the continent alive, with some situations changing slightly each time the players come back to a location (multiple green terrain cards for a given number) or changing depending on the players’ curse, experience (represented by cards in their satchel) or equipment (represented by blue modifiers on their inventory cards). All these points combined make it a highly immersive, fun and rich game to play.

My favourite thing about it so far is how rewarding it is to find hidden clues on terrain cards. Let me explain. As the game progresses, the players get to know the continent better and learn about the benefits of certain terrain features or learn to spot hidden dangers. We have great memories as we discovered that a terrain card that was looking rather useless at first sight became invaluable as one tiny feature caught our attention. It helps make our experience feel unique.

On the other hand, we were a bit disappointed with some of the puzzles/riddles which could have been thought through a bit more in our opinion. I remember one in particular which had a very sophisticated riddle clue, on which we spent 15 minutes, just to find out that the solution was unexcitedly simple. For some others, we just couldn’t find any clue and had to try randomly. In neither case that puzzle or riddle felt fun or rewarding. In that sense, puzzles and riddles in Time Stories or Unlock feel more thought through and more aligned with the premium experience The 7th Continent is trying to offer.

Another aspect we enjoyed is the action deck and how deceptively simple and efficient it is. Most importantly, it sets the pace of the game and manages the tension. When thick and healthy, the action deck encourages exploration, but when slim, it encourages urgency and players will get obsessed about eating something.. anything. And lighting a fire.. So decisions are likely going to be very different and tension will rise and be diffused many times throughout the game as players get their hand on a few edible things. In Robinson Crusoe for instance, characters start the game healthy and get worse and worse. Players are managing their decline and hope they’ll finish the scenario before they die. It is one straight line downhill. In The 7th Continent, it is more of a roller coaster and we liked that, as those moments when we got to replenish our action deck felt very rewarding.

But just like Robinson Crusoe, the game is quite brutal. The game knows players have to explore and take risks to find what they have to find to lift the curse. But 90% of actions will either lead to bad outcomes or a waste of energy. And along the same line, the game is quite serious and in our opinion could have been a bit more silly at times. In addition to choosing their battles right, the players have to get in there well prepared, otherwise they should be ready to get a good kick in the teeth that they might not recover from, like climbing without a rope, fighting a predator without a strong weapon or sailing without a raft.

This game is borderline a legacy game in my opinion, as players banish cards from the game as they progress. I am sure our continent looks unique at the moment. We even ran in a situation where we would have faced a different outcome had one of our characters been fluent in a certain language. But the decisions we made so far seem to have little impact on the story line and seem to bear little consequences for this scenario and future ones, beyond giving us better equipment and shortcuts. Also, I don’t know how much future curses and expansions will introduce new rules or new gameplays..

Finally, I would like to talk about the characters. They are well written, have a bit of background story, a secret (that is just flavour text, I think), a special skill and unique abilities or equipment. They could have been more different though, maybe not to the point they specialise in only one ability like Pandemic or Robinson Crusoe, but for instance, I am playing Mary in our scenario. And to be fair, there isn’t any of her action cards I am finding cool, fun or powerful compared to the non-character specific action cards. Ferdinand has ‘Gourmet’ which is pretty neat. I am not sure about the other characters though, so I might be wrong.

In our opinion, this game isn’t far from perfect. We would prefer for there to be a bit more humour, riddles a bit more thought through, characters with more uniquely powerful special powers, decisions that have more impact on the story line and a few more hints.

What is your favourite aspect of the 7th Continent? What is your favourite exploration and survival game?

Let me know in the comments below!

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