Ancient Evil and strange happenings are afoot in the Arkham Museum. The only thing that will stop the utter destruction of the world is if four brave souls collect enough elder signs to destroy the ancient one before he is awoken. Today we look at the coop board game for iPhone and iPad, Elder Sign: Omens by Fantasy Flight Games.
Elder Sign is really a derivative of the larger fantasy horror game Arkham Horror. Both games are based in the world of H. P. Lovecraft, best known for his monster Cthulhu. Both games are cooperative board games that pit you against an ancient evil that is trying to wake up, and while that is happening you are trying to survive the monsters that are spawning around the board. Elder Sign is an abbreviated dice rolling game compared to Arkham Horror, but has a significantly shorter play time from the behemoth of AH. Elder Sign: Omens is in turn an abbreviated version of Elder Signs the board game though as we look it will be apparent that Fantasy Flight could upgrade the game to include the full range of features.
Elder Sign: Omens starts off with you choosing four investigators from the sixteen from the original game. Each investigator has an innate ability as well as some starting equipment. You can choose your investigators to compliment each other, or go for a random team, which I found was much more challenging. From there you are treated to a nice cut scene which sets the mood very well.
In Elder Sign the board game there are several possible Ancient Ones that you choose from and each has different abilities and when they wake up you then must fight them, which means the game isn’t over until everyone is dead, or insane. In Omens however, the developer has opted for the easier solution of only providing one ancient one; Azathoth. When he wakes up the game is over and everyone loses. I would hope that future updates would bring the other Ancient Ones to the game without all of their different conditions since the first one limits your winning conditions to collecting elder signs.
Elder Sings are collected by finishing missions that provide them as a reward. Each mission is at a different location in the museum and you must accomplish a Yatzee style game of rolling dice or face the marked punishments. Some missions wont give you an elder sign, but they will give you items that you will need to help complete future missions.
Elder Sign: Omens has no multiplayer, but can be played hot seat style especially with the iPad version. I think it would be even better if you could all see the board and watch the others play, but like other board games on the iOS (Settler’s of Catan, Ticket to Ride) the game lends itself to being played on a coffee table with a few friends. The music and sound effects are spot on and will help enhance the mood of this already dark game. The lack of some features from the board game limits my suggestion of purchasing this game instead of the physical version. My opinion could be swayed if I saw further updates to bring it on par, or surpass the board game, but as it stands I would recommend this to anything you already plays the game, or wants to give it a try and see if it is right for them. The $3.99 and $6.99 for iPhone and iPad respectively is a much smaller investment then the $30-40 you can expect to pay for the original. Grab your notebook and get ready to face your worst fears in Elder Sign: Omens, now available on the app store.
We rate this app 4 out of 5 stars.