Today Antler Games launched a Kickstarter campaign for their latest game, Critters Below. It’s a semi-coop set in a world where war has broken out and you’re an anthropomorphic critter hiding in a bunker trying to not die from various horrific means. Oh yeah, the lights in your bunker have gone out, making it pretty much impossible to see anything.

Every round you’ll have to search your pockets, shelves, and the facility as a whole for items to keep yourself fed and alive. The game uses a great mechanic where all the items, including the ones in front are you, are faced down for the entire game unless you have some light source to peek at them. This means you’ve got a to have a good memory so you can use the item you really need when you really need it. The game also handles character damage in an interesting way. There’s several different types of damage you can take in Critters Below, starvation, radiation, poison, bleeding, etc… Any of these cards placed face down in front of you are damage your critter has taken. Get 3 of kind in front of you and you’re dead. How could that happen? Throughout the game certain cards or events will have you take different types of damage into your hand. At the end of your turn another play picks a card out of your hand at random. Damage card? Place it in front of you and discard any duplicates of that type from your hand. Vigor card? Lucky! You take no damage, and all Vigor cards are in your hand are discarded. Regeneration? Even better! Get rid of a damage card from in front of you and discard any duplicate Regen cards from your hand. There are also item cards that can directly place or remove damage cards directly.

So what’s the goal of the game you ask? Surviving the war. After round, once all players have taken their turns, everyone votes to see if they should open one of 3 bunker doors. If a door is opened then a bunch of event cards from a timeline setup at the start of the game are turned over and their effects are applied to the players. If every player can keep themselves from taking 3 total damage during this phase, the war is over and all surviving critters win.

So here’s the thing. Do you want to work together to make sure everyone gets out alive, or do you want to sabotage the other players so you’re the sole survivor? Working together certainly has it’s advantages, but sole victory takes sooooo sweet.

Critters Below handles 1-4 players per set. If you buy both sets you can accommodate 8 players for an ultimate starvation-fest.

Antler Games sent me a prototype to test out  and my kids an I really enjoyed the game. A combination of fresh-feeling mechanics, tension, and the unknown make for a really exciting game where you never know if you’re going to be obliterated by bombs, tossed to he dogs by another player, or maybe, just maybe, make it out of this crazy war alive.

A single copy of the game will run you around $20 if the game funds. With the start Antler Games is off to, it seems pretty certain they will. The rewards just go up from there including a double pack of games, collector’s edition, and  a custom artwork edition. There’s also plenty of awesome stretch goals to be unlocked.

A prototype copy of Critters Below was provided free for this preview by Antler Games.

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