Humans are creatures always searching for patterns and symbols, their minds immediately glomming onto familiar shapes. It’s what has led party games like Pictionary and Telestrations to become such lasting classics. But what happens when you’re forced to rely on their ears for all that meaning-making work? Upcoming board game Sound Box wants to find out.
Sound Box is a cooperative party game for four to seven players where the group must simultaneously express a wild variety of sounds listed on cards to a designated guesser. Correct guesses move the group closer to the winning goal, while wrong ones will halt progress immediately.
On each turn, the Guesser reviews all of the sound cards on the board. These are the possible sounds that might be thrown into the mix, but not all are guaranteed to show up. They then don a pair of glasses and listen as the Soundmakers - who have been assigned a card - do their best to emulate whatever thing, place or situation it describes. The cards run the gamut of a fairly straight forward car race to the more esoteric rewind or genie in a bottle.
The catch here is that all the soundmakers voice their ostensible vocal talent at the same time - the guesser must simply listen and attempt to pick out individuals from the cacophony. Afteance. The guesser will attempt to pinpoint noises they heard by nonverbally pointing at cards alongside the game board. As long as their ears didn’t deceive them, that player can continue guessing cards until they no longer feel comfortable - which can be a good thing: selecting a card that wasn’t in play immediately ends the round.
Further adding pressure to the Guesser’s job is the fact that all cards not guessed at the end of the round “hurt” the team according to the number of hearts on each soundmaker’s token they were assigned. Let the marker move all the way to one end, and it’s an immediate game over - playing it too safe can be a losing strategy.
As the team progresses, Double Sound markers increase the difficulty of each round by assigning one player - and then later two - with two cards, saddling them with the responsibility of communicating two distinct auditory clues to the Guesser. This burden can be turned around in the round hands - or ears - but also holds the possibility of sinking a lot of momentum in one disastrous round.
Sound Box is published by Horrible Guild, the studio behind the legacy interactive narrative game The King’s Dilemma and family puzzle title Potion Explosion. Its Kickstarter campaign launches on May 18th, with more details about pricing and shipping available then. A printable playtest version is available here.