Nostalgic science fiction art book-turned-RPG-turned-board game Tales from the Loop hits retail on February 8th. The cooperative title leans into investigative gameplay as a group of children attempt to unravel mysteries centered in their Scandinavian town in the shadow of a secretive research facility.
Tales from the Loop: the Board Games successfully funded via Kickstarter in 2020 - raising over $3778,000 - but ran headlong into production and fulfillment issues as the COVID-19 pandemic gummed up nearly every aspect of global shipping. Despite that, publisher Free League seems confident that the board game will be readily available in brick and mortar retail alongside online stores.
The board game adapts the rough structure of its tabletop RPG sibling by putting players in the role of children and teens living in the town surrounding a high-tech facility known colloquially as The Loop. Most of the adults of the Nordic suburb work in or for The Loop, and its presence causes all manner of strange occurrences and effects. Lumbering robots and hovering freight ships are a common sight, but temporal anomalies and displaced aliens… not so much.
Sessions are broken down into a series of days that start at school but bleed into free time before the kids need to make it home by curfew. During those hours, the team of one to five players can work together to gather clues, explore the islands and chase down leads. Actions are planned the day before so that everyone can make best use of their kid’s particular strengths - and cover for their weaknesses. It can also be played solo by controlling two kids in concert.
As kids, each player will also have certain obligations they need to complete during the week. Chores and homework might take a backseat in the mind of a teen hunting a rogue dinosaur or malfunctioning robot - represented by six included miniatures - but their parents won’t see it that way. Neglecting responsibilities means running the risk of losing privileges such as a later curfew, the use of the family sedan or even being grounding.
Because all of the kids work as a team, there are no turns - actions and their consequences can play out simultaneously. Individuals are only limited by the amount of time they have before curfew, which might be extended by crossing the not-fun home duties off their to-do list early. The box will come with eight prewritten scenarios that will lead groups through a branching mystery that each takes around one and half hours to complete, but a freeform sandbox mode extends its playability.
Many of the scenarios will include group challenges along the way that require the kids to pool their efforts and evidence in order to overcome. This might be a physical threat, some esoteric puzzle or a test of agility and teamwork to outsmart their foe. Combining items scavenged from the wilderness and The Loop’s facilities may unlock strange, new abilities that provide a critical edge just when they need it most.
Tales from the Loop is based on the art books of Simon Stålenhag, who also co-authored both the RPG and its darker sequel - Things from the Flood. Free League published the core rulebook in 2017, which went on to win a number of ENnie awards and has since released several supplements and adventures. It was also adapted into a television series by Amazon in 2020, jumping the gun on a number of other tabletop games heading for the small screen such as Dungeons & Dragons and Blades in the Dark.
Tales from the Loop: the Board Game will be available to purchase on February 8th, and while Free League has not provided a sticker price the standard edition was offered to Kickstarter backers for £49/$67 - expect something similar on digital storefronts and the shelves of local game stores.