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Board game adaptation Gloomhaven enters early access on July 17th

A skinny thief tries to intimidate a man made of rock in Gloomhaven.

Gloomhaven, the board game with the intimidatingly large box, is headed to PC in just a few weeks. Kinda. The PC adaptation by Flaming Fowl Studios sounds like it’s going to be a very different beast to the tabletop edition. If early developer comments are to be believed, the version entering early access on July 17th will be a purely single player experience – a tactical rogue-like dungeon crawl with randomly generated dungeons. Still, they plan on adding multiplayer later, and it’s nice-looking too, with some neat comic-styled shading on its 3D models. See them in motion below.

The initial PC release sounds like it’s going to be focused solely on fine-tuning the combat and dungeon crawling side of the game. The board game’s original designer Isaac Childres puts some of my fears to rest in this developer blog post, stating (in bold, no less) that it will be “a true port of the board game”. Bookkeeping and running monster behaviour scripts will be taken out of the hands of players and handled by the computer, but they do plan on implementing multiplayer and the full campaign of the board game. Just not at first, it would seem.

One of the big appeals of Gloomhaven on the tabletop is that it’s a legacy-type game. For those who haven’t managed to pin anyone down for a few hours of dice and miniatures fun, that means the game has initially-sealed components. Over the course of several sessions, you’ll add more elements to the game, more stories, more rules and twists. It’s like unlocking features in a roguelite, only you’ve got to break the seal on a cardboard box, or write a new place-name on a map, or even destroy something as dictated by the game. Mundane in a videogame, oddly thrilling at the table.

Now that multiplayer for the game is confirmed (however delayed), my only concern is whether they’ll be able to recapture that tabletop legacy thrill. The mystery of opening up a box of new goodies and finding out how your next session is going to change. It’s a format that even managed to make Risk into something good. Perhaps this is one of the few domains where the physical has a real advantage over videogames?

Gloomhaven enters early access on July 17th. Keep an eye on its Steam store page. It’s published by Asmodee Digital.

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