Into the Void by Kira Scott
Into the Void employs some great, simple mechanics to tell the story of a doomed crew on a mission to save Earth from catastrophe. Each player manages a collection of traits to forestall madness, as the pressure of deep space slowly drives every crew member crazy.
For the most part, the game’s mechanics are awesome and convey the setting well. Each player gets a number of inner traits (how you see yourself) and outer traits (how others see you) that can be used to gain bonuses on challenges. Win challenges and your crew gets stronger; lose and slip into madness, eventually turning on your own shipmates.
These simple mechanics set up all the right kinds of scenes. Players try to survive in a hostile environment, but the real danger is losing their sense of self in the face of deep space. I can easily imagine a game in which my character, tired of the hallucinations he’s facing, decides to kill everyone else on the ship!
That said, I think that the main room for improvement here is in the design of the scenes themselves. A lot of flexibility is given in how scenes are set up and taken down, and I worry that it would require an expert GM to keep the game moving quickly enough to ratchet up the suspense. In addition, elements like the Space Logs (monologues from the characters) are really neat, but I’m not sure they would work with less experienced players. I think some more structures with the middle of the game could make the project a lot stronger.
In some ways it’s hard to be objective about Into the Void. While the mechanics are completely different from my entry (Our Last Best Hope), it has enough similarities in scope and content, drawing from many of the same inspirations and employing many of the same tropes. Needless to say, I think its premise is a lot of fun, and I recommend that everyone give it a shot. Great game!