Friday, May 10, 2024

Kaos in the Catacombs falls short of its mission statement

 Kaos in the Catacombs is a free download from PnPArcade that is billed as a one-page dungeon crawl that’s designed for children but will work for adults too.

If you don’t want to read any further, I found it a meh gaming experience but I respect the design elements. And, to be brutally honest, it isn’t one-page because you need a character sheet but that’s just being pedantic. The meat is in the one page.

Said one page is a map of the dungeon and a bunch of tables. The dungeon is really a hallway of rooms. You roll to see what is in each room, which will be a monster half the time. There’s a boss monster in the last room. You then have to fight your way back through a hallway again that now has more monsters.

Combat is rolling a die. Even, you damage monsters. Odd, they damage you. So combat is a coin flip. Since you are only have one direction to go, Kaos has very few actual choices. The only actual decisions in the game is managing special items that you find and your character’s special powers. And, in the long run, that isn’t enough to overcome the random.

There are some elements I do like. The flavor text is cute. The graphic design is very clean and easy to understand. But I found the actual gameplay lacked agency and was monotonous.

When I was first looking at PnP games in general, well before it became its own hobby to me, I played two one-page dungeon crawls that were touchstones for me: Solo Tower Hack and Delve. I would play Kaos over Solo Tower Hack but Delve is a better game.

Kaos in the Catacombs is aimed at kids. And it does do the part of the job of being accessible. However, just being aimed at a younger audience doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t be making the choices.

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