Author Topic: Review of The Company  (Read 1665 times)

Offline Nanshork

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Review of The Company
« on: November 21, 2021, 01:54:20 PM »


Okay, this game is a little different than all of my reviews so far.  The Company is not a big budget RPG (or even a small budget RPG), it is a game that I kickstarted that is available on itch.io and so is just a weird little indie zine game.  For those who aren't aware, zine games are short little games with minimalistic rules and layout.  The Employee Handbook (Player's handbook) and Management Manual (GM handbook) are both only 24 pages.  Because of this shortness I'm going to go ahead and review them both and this will still end up probably being the shortest review I have done/will do.

I'm not even going to worry about the table of contents on these books because honestly I don't even see much of a point.  Therefore this will probably also be the least organized review that I have done/will do.

Employee Handbook

Right away in the first (non front cover) page we get a page called OVERVIEW which is basically the equivalent of a player reference card in more-complicated board games and tells you the results of dice rolls and what combat actions to take and when you gain stress and some other basic stuff.

We then move on to your welcome letter as an employee of the Wuhan-Baxter Corporation as a member of the Asset Recovery and Containment Division (this page also includes writing credits and the very short table of contents). 

The next page is the Introduction which lets us know that this is a survival horror game centered around corporate emergency response teams (so we're the Weyland-Yutani employees in the Alien universe as an example), and also this is a d10 game where you get a dice pool made up of d10s and you need an 8+ to succeed.  There are varying levels of success and failure and more difficult tasks require more success rolls.

We then finally (can I say finally when we're on page three of the actual contents?) get a multiple page section which is about how to play the game so of course multiple pages are required.  We get a page on rolling (which is all pretty simple but you can adjust your dice pool and roll for skills you aren't trained in and collaborate on rolls, etc).  There are also rules on items and combat and surprise and healing and resting and stress/burnout.  A lot of these are specifically designed to emphasize the survival part of survival horror (and making survival more difficult in many cases).

Character creation is pretty simple.  You pick a career from the list of careers (Soldier, Scientist, Medic, Engineer, Technician), you choose a couple of skill proficiency boosts to add to the skill proficiencies you start with, and you pick a perk from the general perks or your career specific perks.  Bam, done.  If you're playing in a campaign (and not just a one-off) there are rules for promotions (which is just gaining more skills/perks) but the Drive that you spend on those can also be spent on more immediate gains so even one-off characters have use for this game's experience points equivalent.  Drive is gained by completing missions and also doing your job (each career has specific listed job goals, for example the Medic wants to search and care for survivors).

There are also a couple of pages detailing weapons, armor, and other equipment with what they do.


Management Manual

We get the same overview and a similar employee welcome page (this one welcoming you to the Wuhan-Baxter Executive Management program).  After that, we get some new stuff starting with a timeline history of the company (the current in-game date is explicitly left blank).

Next we get another Introduction but this is to the GM side (in this game GM is Game Manager).  We get rules on how to GM The Company (including some ways to track time that keep things abstract and simple but still allow for heightened tension, this part is neat) and some reiteration of the Employee Handbook rules (so that the GM doesn't have to look at both books).

The meat of this book (and what takes up most of the pages) is a sample adventure which takes place in a deep sea research facility and includes rules about things like what happens if the hull gets punctured.  It's short but interesting.


Final Thoughts

This is a neat little game.  It's short and sweet and has some editing issues (since a formal editor wasn't hired this isn't a big surprise) but I still like it.  My only real problems are related to rules that don't exist (and given the nature of this game it isn't surprising that some things just aren't explicitly spelled out.

For the low price of pay what you want (although I paid more than nothing since I kickstarted it) I'm happy to have this one in my collection.


UPDATE: I reached out to the creator on itch.io about the editing issues (which were super minor) and they were all fixed in about two and a half hours and new versions of the PDFs were uploaded.  I'm double impressed, this guy really cares about his game and I'm going to run it if I get a chance and it was worth supporting the creator's labor of love.