This is the fortieth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.
A game about meeting your love from a past life
That’s right, readers, romance is in the air.
In Another Life is a small, freeform tabletop role-playing game that was made for the Your Move Jam, a game jam based on the concept of “moves” as defined by the game Apocalypse World. The design framework for Apocalypse World, known as Powered by the Apocalypse or “PbtA”, has been used for a slew of other tabletop role-playing games since, and fans are encouraged to make their own hacks and adaptations. The system focuses on moves, which could be things like “hack and slash” in a fantasy-themed, combat-centric game, or “seize by force” from the original Apocalypse World where resources are scarce, and are all resolved via the roll of two six-sided dice, plus modifiers if characters possess appropriate skills or other advantages. In the Your Move Jam, entries must focus on a single move. That’s all that players can do. What can be built from this limited framework?
I didn’t know any of this going in, and In Another Life doesn’t really explain any of it either. I had to look over the Your Move Jam rules to figure it out. In Another Life offers a very brief book — in either 3-fold pamphlet format, a format optimized for smartphone screens, or a plain text version — outlining the basic ideas, but most of it is left up to players. Speaking of which, the game requires at least two players, so once again I am unable to actually play it, and can only give my impressions of it after reading. Players create a backstory for their characters, both who they are now and who they were as lovers in a previous life. Scene prompts guide the story from there, as characters run into each other, feel a strange familiarity, and then try To Remember: the single move available in the game. As they do, they may gain bonds, which can be added to future rolls, letting them remember things more clearly. Once all the scenes have been played out, everyone collaboratively narrates an epilogue for their characters.
The bulk of the storytelling here is left to the players, which makes it a difficult game to judge just from reading it. With a group of players invested in telling the tale of lovers fated to meet again in another life, it could be a memorable and touching experience. But expect to put a lot of work in yourself. There are question prompts to aid in developing backstories, but little other guidance, even for the results of the To Remember moves. A strong imagination is required. With the right group of people, however, the simple framework offered here should be all that’s needed to craft a poignant tale. Perhaps the lovers find love again? Or maybe their new lives diverge enough that only a bittersweet remembrance is possible? There’s space for any type of story you like.
Personally, I think I’d be a terrible player for this, needing more direct aid to get a narrative going. But I like the idea of a game where the only possible act is one of remembrance. It’s important to take time to remember. If you are intrigued, and missed it in the bundle, In Another Life is sold for a minimum price of $5.
That’s 40 down, and only 1701 to go!