It is the late 70’s, a group of friends are sitting around a poker table in the basement of a bi-level home in Anytown, USA. Hanging on the walls are various Rush, Yes, and Velvet Underground poster. The walls themselves are wood paneling. The carpet a disgusting mix of green, yellow, and orange in a calming shag. The room smells a little musty and it is never quite dry. Along the walls are various bookshelves full of Dungeons and dragons rulebooks, a series of spiral bound notebooks containing multiple campaigns, comic books, and records. On the floor is a console TV with an Atari attached to it. On the wall opposite the TV is a stereo, the warm glow of the green light signifying that the receiver is on and the turntable just above it is spinning hypnotically. Through the large wooden housed speakers you hear it, two sharp chords and what sounds like a space ship. Three more sharp chords followed by one that echoes. Three repeating chords that give way to a cacophony of sheer ecstasy and you hear him, the voice of our people. The mouthpiece of the weird, the socially outcast, the cool kids. “And the meek shall inherit the Earth”. The group at the table cannot be bothered with the growing intensity of Rush’s 2112. They themselves are in an epic battle fighting for control of the universe. As the table comes into focus you see a pyramid full of the manifestations of all of mankind’s fears, and among them are a handful of monks. You behold as this group guides these Monks deeper into the pyramid banishing their fears as they go, every so often being reminded that fear itself can be downright terrifying. One of them sees an opening and takes it. A light at the top of the pyramid shines, so bright that the room, the records, even the music disappears into it. When reality comes back into focus the leader of the group has transformed and you see that they control all of everything. They have conquered the Zoneplex and have been deemed worthy to control the Universe. A series of high fives culminates in this group of heroes cracking the last few cans of soda. The night grows darker, swallowing them all.
Zoneplex is one of those games that a description of gameplay does not justify it in any way. It actually detracts from the magic that is the game. A build as you go game board provides avenues of strategy and discovery that ultimately lead to the pinnacle of the game, the top of the pyramid. As you travel through the pyramid you are met by monsters that attempt to stop you. Defeat them and claim their essence as proof that you have conquered that fear. Three different types of fear await you. If you can defeat all three then you are worthy to enter the pinnacle. The first to achieve this wins. Zoneplex is played very similar to Munchkin, it starts out cooperative and after the pyramid is completed it becomes a free for all. This game is the epitome of basement table top gaming in the dawn of the genre. It is a board game version of epic DnD campaigns, too many snacks, and Mountain Dew. I fear that if I go too much into the game play it will scare you away from this game, I do not want to do that. If you are a gamer and you love the strange nostalgia of older games, then Zoneplex is for you. If it were created in the late 70’s or the early 80’s we would be holding this over our heads screaming “THIS is what a game should be!”. Too often these days a reviewer will latch onto a game and say that it is what a game should be and all other games fall short because of its existence. Zoneplex is not that type of game. It transcends all of that bullshit and presents a snapshot of an era long forgotten in a way that anyone who at least knows of that time can see. It opens a world of nostalgia if you allow it to.
Zoneplex is a beautifully crafted masterpiece created by Mysterion Games and released by the Game Crafter and it is magic in a box. If you ever have the opportunity to play it with a group of friends that you genuinely love to game with please do. Otherwise get a copy for yourself find at least two other people and give it a spin. See if you can reclaim your piece of history and capture the snapshot that our parents have forgotten.
Final Score: 9/10
And with that, this has been a review from your humble moderator.