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September 13, 2014 / Jett

Lost Legacy: The Starship Review

Seiji Kanai and AEG caught lightning in a bottle with their smash-hit game Love Letter. Using only 16 cards and a simple rule set, Love Letter provides a masterful gaming experience that is fun for virtually anyone. I first gushed about it in my review of the game last year and I still consider it to be one of my all-time favourites.

Trying to build on the success of Love Letter, Seiji Kanai and AEG are back with Lost Legacy: The Starship. Building on Love Letter‘s 16-card setup and ruleset while pairing it with an all-new theme, Lost Legacy aims to add another layer of depth to the gameplay. While this is certainly more complicated than its predecessor, it’s not necessarily better off.

This time, players are exploring the galaxy in search of a legendary spaceship. If you’re the first person to find it during the investigation phase, or if you’re the last player standing, you win. However, if the spaceship isn’t found by the end of the investigation phase, everyone loses.

photo 3Like Love Letter before it, all of the action is conveyed through 16 cards. Each card triggers an action when it’s played, such as the General card, which lets you swap your card with the one on top of the deck, or the Swordsman card that lets you kill someone whose holding the Sneak Attack card. Play progresses by drawing a card, playing a card, then resolving the action of that played card until the deck is empty.

All of this should sound very familiar to Love Letter, though the end game differs quite a bit. In Seiji Kanai’s romantic adventure, the player holding the Princess or the next highest-ranked card would win the round. Lost Legacy‘s Spaceship card is basically the Princess, but holding it at the end of the game doesn’t guarantee you the victory. Instead, the game moves into an Investigation phase, where players take turns guessing where the spaceship is. The order of who gets to guess when is determined by the Investigation Speed rating at the top of the card. In this scenario, the player holding the Spaceship can still lose if another player with a faster Investigation Speed successfully guesses that they’re holding the Spaceship card. Because of this, it’s oftentimes more advantageous to know where the Spaceship card is versus actually holding it in your hand.

I can’t knock Seiji Kanai and AEG for wanting to get more out of the Love Letter framework. If their goal was to simply make a more complex Love Letter, they’ve certainly done that. Have they made a better game though? I don’t think so. The beauty of Love Letter came from how simple its gameplay was and how tightly the theme tied in with your in-game actions. Here, the structural gameplay changes muddy things to the point where it’s not all that clear what you need to do on a turn-by-turn basis to get ahead. Also, the whole spaceship story doesn’t really resonate with the gameplay in a way that inspires you to keep going.

photo 3With gameplay that complicates without improving, and a theme that struggles to connect with players, Lost Legacy: The Spaceship falls short of the tremendously high bar that its predecessor set. It’s clear to see that the makers of Love Letter tried to make a better and more advanced version of it, but Lost Legacy in this form feels like they missed the point. In a world where these two games will exist side-by-side on store shelves, there’s not much reason to pick this one up over Love Letter.

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