Blind Luck – The Last Engineer Review
We’ve all played those horror games, where you’re given an woefully inadequate light source, to add the the sense of horror. We’ve seen it in films too, used as a way to build dramatic tension and deliver jump-scares. I’m going to tell you about Blind Luck – The Last Engineer, a game where you’re plunged into complete darkness, from start to end. A game where your blind fumbling is all that stands between a town’s survival, and eradication at the hands (claws?) of creatures known as Scuttlers. Can you feel the hair on the back of your neck standing up yet?
z, is a solo RPG from the mind of William Long, of Long Games. In the game, you’re dropped into the role of that last engineer, tasked with repairing the town’s power station, and bringing light – and salvation – back to your small town. No-one knows where those Scuttlers came from, but we know that humans are their idea of a tasty snack. We also know they hate the light, and have blackened the skies. If you can get power back they’ll be driven away, for you to live another day.
Blind Luck is a print-and-play RPG. This means you can head over to its page on itch.io, pay the few quid for it, and print the included PDFs at home, or use your favourite print service. Other than that all you need is a pencil, and a standard deck of 52 playing cards. The pages lay out the backstory and rules, and help you setup your deck. Each suit represents an area in your dark town, and you’ll be exploring the various locations, searching them for weapons, food, candles, and parts to repair the power station.
The game is really simple to play. It’s as difficult as revealing a card, looking up that location in the pages, and doing whatever you need to while you’re there. You’ll go searching for the items I mentioned before, but sometimes you’ll be stumbling across Scuttlers, and you’ll need to fight those pesky critters off in order to claim the items you found. So the questions you’re probably waiting for me to answer now are: “How do I search and fight?”, and “Why don’t I need dice?”
Running around in circles
Blind Luck uses a very cool, very thematic, innovative way to work out values during searching and combat. Included in your PDF are a couple of pages of numbers. These pages, adventurer, are your dice in this adventure.
When you need to make a success check, you close your eyes (no peeking!) and draw a circle on the page. The numbers entirely contained in your loop get added together, and that’s your total. “Easy”, you’re thinking, “just draw a huge circle and you’re bound to get enough points”. If only it were that easy. Each check has a lower AND an upper limit you see, and unless you’re in that sweet spot between the two, you failed.
It’s such a cool system. It really takes practise to get the hang of just how big or small a circle to draw. The numbers only range from 0 to 5, which sounds like it would lead to a small variance, but due to the way they’re distributed across the pages, some circles score much better than others. The feeling of doing it all with your eyes shut is a really nice tie back to the setting of the game, and this idea of trying to do your best without being able to see.
There’s honestly not too much more to tell you about Blind Luck. It’s a fun, atmospheric little solo RPG-type experience that’ll take you about an hour to play. I really liked the theme, and the presentation in the PDF is great, it’s really atmospheric and polished. There’s palpable tension and excitement every time you open your eyes to see what numbers you’ve circled.
There’s maybe a bit of a disconnect from an RPG standpoint, in that you can be exploring the school on one turn, then the next you’re on the high street, then onto the park. I was trying to immerse myself in the role of this last engineer in the dark, and I thought I probably wouldn’t be bouncing around from place to place like a flea if that was the case. I’d have liked to have seen either an insistence that you have to take x turns at a location, or some kind of penalty each time you move somewhere else. Of course, this is a solo adventure, so if that bothers you, just house-rule it.
That small gripe aside, Blind Luck – The Last Engineer is a great game. The balance is really good, and of the games I played, none of them were easy wins. Never knowing where the Scuttlers might be is nerve-wracking, and because there’s no picture of them, it’s up to your brain to decide what they’re like. In my head they’re like the bugs from Starship Troopers.
If you want to experience a really different sort of game, and want something you can buy now and be playing in half an hour, for the price of a pizza you really ought to give Blind Luck – The Last Engineer a look. It’s a cracking little game.
A review copy of the game was kindly provided to me by Long Games. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
Blind Luck – The Last Engineer (2021)
Designer: William Long
Art: William Long
Playing time: 45-60 mins