Review of “Rigged”

Game Type: Solo Journaling
GM-Less: Yes
Players: 1
Rules: Very Light
Mechanics: Std. Card Deck, Dice (1d6), JENGA tower
Themes: Cyberpunk, net running
Author: Spencer Campbell (gilarpgs.com)
Based on: The Wretched (by Chris Bissette)
Find it Here: https://gilarpgs.itch.io/rigged 

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What I Liked:

  • Fun prompts that give you a new “run” by mixing and matching different cards each time. With 6 cards in each run, you’ve got 52C6 = 20358520 (~20 million; assuming I did that right) different prompt combinations for the first run, though some of them will end the game outright.
  • JENGA tower as a physical representation of your net running “rig.” Watching it whittle away as you narratively burn up the rig is neat.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • You’re at the mercy of the cards to alter negative outcomes, without any control of your own.

Rigged is a solo journaling game where you take on the role of a hacker trying to extract information off a “black box” that is located on servers own by a big bad hypercorp, Atlas. Your journal is narratively set up as posts on a forum-like site, wherein you detail each run you made against the hypercorp, troubles encountered, etc.

The game loop is split into two parts:

  1. Make a Run
  2. Post the Run results to the Net

When you make a run, you draw cards from a standard deck, and every card has a different, static writing prompt. After you perform every action associated with the card, you then do the same for the next card, then the next, until you’ve taken care of every card in the run. Afterwards, you form a story about these prompts and how they coalesce to tell one, cohesive tale of a Run.

The JENGA tower is optional, but exists as a physical representation of your “rig” (the machine you use to perform runs) and is overloaded if the tower falls. You can choose to play without the JENGA tower (and this makes the game easier to win).

You “win” if you’re able to find the black box and extract all the files from it before the JENGA tower falls. You fail if the JENGA tower falls before then. If you’re not playing with the JENGA tower, there are ways to lose via story prompts; collecting a particular set of cards will kill you in different ways.

A few typos and formatting problems are there, but nothing egregious. The colorscheme and header font says “retro future” without being over-the-top, and while the layout is barebones, it doesn’t detract form the game itself. I might have wanted more art and/or design elements for it given the price, but not a big deal.

Ultimately. if you’re looking for a game to help you beat the covid blues and don’t mind just letting go to enjoy the ride, this is a fun one and will have you running for Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell shortly afterwards.

That having been said, I like a sense of control in games, and $5 for a game without a way to “defeat” negative effects that does not rely entirely on chance is not a price tag I’d meet. If it shows up in a bundle deal for a cause you want to support and you like journaling games, I’d grab it.

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