A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a board game.
Location: at home
Date Played: October-November 2021
Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2-4
Duration: 15-60 minutes per mission
The Initiative is a unique campaign-based cooperative strategy game with delightful escape-at-home overtones. Unlike most board games, there’s an overarching narrative that ties in with the gameplay mechanics, as well as plenty of secrets—some of which I only found while writing up this review.
Unexpected Games’ description of The Initiative as a “cooperative game of strategy, story, and codebreaking” explains it succinctly. We enjoyed all three of these elements on their own, and they were especially impressive in combination. From story to gameplay to graphic design, it’s clear how much care and creativity went into the design of this game.
The Initiative is meant to be played over 14 missions with one to four adults or puzzle-minded youngsters, who can drop in and out of the campaign as they please. The strategy board game element is fortified with story in the form of a comic book describing a group of kids playing a very similar board game. There are also secrets hidden throughout the game materials, and even more missions are available to play separately after the main campaign. After spending a dozen or more hours with The Initiative, we still hadn’t exhausted all of its mysteries.
It’s not exactly an escape game, but between the cooperative gameplay, ciphers, secrets, and aha moments, The Initiative seems especially appropriate for escape room enthusiasts. If you like the idea of playing an intricately designed, puzzle-filled board game over multiple sittings, it’s well worth the retail price.
Who is this for?
- Fans of legacy/ campaign board games
- Story seekers
- Cipher aficionados
- Cooperative strategizing
- Story-gameplay integration
- Secrets aplenty
Four teens find a spy-themed board game called The Key at a yard sale and decide to play it together. When mysterious events start occurring in real life, they resolve to uncover the truth behind the game’s origins.
The story unfolds through comic pages which are meant to be read at certain points throughout the campaign.Continue reading “Unexpected Games – The Initiative [Review]”