Elder Sign: Omens wakes up the Big C
Hey, look, Elder Sign: Omens gets an update, including new elder gods, new monsters, new heroes, bigger icons for those of us without iPads, and even some new rules. Basically, a whole mess of new playing pieces to flesh out an already great (deep breath) dice-driven, single-player, single-session, score-based Lovecraftian adventure.
Previously, you had to fight — ha, “fight”! — Azathoth. He was the game’s sole victory condition. Azathoth had a set number of spaces on the competing victory and failure tracks. But now you can set up an easier game by taking on Yig. He’s a sort of junior elder god. It’s like going up against an intern. His victory and failure tracks are shorter, and he isn’t accompanied by nearly as many monsters. Yig comes with the free update to the game, which also adds options to skip more quickly through transitions. Basically, the free update lets you make Elder Sign faster, easier, more of a lunchbreak game than it already was. How the strange eons fly!
But if you want the main event in Elder Sign: Omens — the Big C himself — you’re going to have to fork over three bucks. The add-on lets you take on Cthulhu, which starts out familiarly enough. You’re still faffing about the Arkham Museum, tackling adventures, risking bodily harm and insanity, grabbing cigarette cases, copies of the Nameless Cults, or Swords of Glory. You deal with the occasional cultist in the koi pond or Byakhee in the gift shop. Along the way, you’ll discover some cool new game mechanics. Maybe it’s not so easy to take a stab at a risky task. Maybe your inventory isn’t so safe anymore. Maybe the new monsters have a surprise in store. But even after all this, if you think Cthulhu can be arsed to show up at some rinky-dink college town in New England, you’ve got another thing coming.
So half way though the game — assuming you’ve made it that far — you board a ship called the Ultima Thule and hit the high seas. Now Elder Sign: Omens plays on a new map, with new adventures, and even new rules for what it takes to beat the game. You have to find three relics. You have to bank precious clues from your adventures. You still need to accumulate elder signs. And then…well, I don’t know what happens then because I keep failing. The Cthulhu campaign is the hardest difficulty level. It even unlocks a new investigator. I’ve already unlocked the new investigator you get for beating Azathoth, and like many of the investigators, I’m not convinced she’s useful, until suddenly the stars align and I’m convinced she’s the best one.
Fantasy Flight, a company with an enormous and diverse catalog of boardgames, is doing a heck of a job with their debut on the iPhone. Elder Sign: Omens was a smart choice for their first port, and they’re doing a great job supporting it with this latest free update and this bountiful $3 add-on.