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I sure hope Frostpunk’s escape room board game is easier to survive than the video game

It’ll offer a frozen puzzle challenge this summer.

Image credit: 11 Bit Studios/Board&Dice/Lockme

Frostpunk in all its forms is known for being a deliberately unforgiving and gruelling experience, pitting players against the threat of freezing to death in its post-apocalyptic tundra, starving to death as they struggle to maintain their city’s vital supplies or being torn to bits by the disgruntled populace of the steam-powered metropolis as the result of your political decisions. (Hard to argue against not thinking child labour is a great idea, in fairness.)

The brutal difficulty of the original city-management video game was brought over to the tabletop in an official board game adaptation a year or so ago, faithfully capturing the complex moral dilemmas and challenging resource-management of its digital counterpart while also adding the additional weight of a whopping rulebook and a box I could probably rent in London for £2,000 a month.

It’s curious, then, to see that Frostpunk’s next stop on its exploration of the tabletop will be a comparatively breezy (at least, in terms of gameplay complexity) escape-room-in-a-box instalment in puzzle series Side Quest.

Side Quest: Frostpunk will seemingly focus on a party of scouts - up to four players, or a solo player - as they venture out of the city and trek across the wasteland in search of resources and potential settlement spots, just as you can send your citizens on exploratory missions in the PC game. There’s talk of finding an abandoned generator and needing to make it habitable within six days before your supplies run out - providing the classic time restriction of typical escape room puzzles, which’ll translate to between an hour and 90 minutes of real time.

Publishers Board&Dice and Lockme are staying unsurprisingly schtum on what exactly to expect from the escape room-style experience - after all, puzzles and secrets are the appeal here - but images of the game show cards arranged to form the city’s familiar central generator in the middle of the table, surrounded by a ring of cards.

Image credit: 11 Bit Studios/Board&Dice/Lockme

While it’s apparently only a two out of four on the publishers’ complexity scale, there’ll still be some of that Frostpunk juggling of different elements in there - with managing temperature, steam cores, food and more all playing into the group’s demands. You’ll need to use a mixture of perception and creativity to survive the entire ordeal, with the promise of an intriguing storyline amidst the tough puzzles and tougher decisions.

Behind the latest adaptation of developer 11 Bit Studios’ gruelling video game series are designers Jakub Caban and Bartosz Idzikowski, who are no strangers to turning other settings into puzzle games, having created the similar Escape Tales series and released Side Quest games based on Alien-like sci-fi board game Nemesis and swashbuckling tabletop RPG 7th Sea.

Side Quest: Frostpunk will be released at this year’s Gen Con in August (thanks, BoardGameGeek), meaning you’ll at least be able to venture into its chilly escape room knowing the summer sun’s shining outdoors. Whether you’ll make it back out though, is up to you…

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