I don't include games I have only played once in my top 10 for a year. Revive was one of those games, but the game play stood out for its curious theme and integration of different mechanics. I highly enjoy getting cards to build engines for resources, it's part of the reason I like games like It's a Wonderful World. Revive takes that type of play to another level as this integrates with how you explore the map. Hand management plays a part in all this as you have to know when to use the cards you have for the best power.
Evidently, we are exploring the world thousands of years in the future as we come out of bunkers and help the land to heal as it thaws. That's where the name of the game comes from, but you could miss the theme in this one although it does play into how you explore the map, a little bit. Each player has a different ability, but these all balance nicely.
I particularly enjoyed the player board where we activated different lightning powers through the game. This puzzle and bonus system felt rewarding and probably the most thematic as it seemed liked our limited power was being put to good use.
What was a little odd, bizarre even, was the alien artifacts we could pick up throughout the game. Maybe there is a little more lore here that could be discovered during the campaign version of the game, but it didn't seem to fit the rest of the game. However, the campaign version of the game is part of the reason I would like to return to this title. I always like a good sci-fi story and Revive hinted at one.
To sum up gameplay, a player can take two of the main actions, once each. The main actions are play a card, build, populate a city, explore, and activate a lever on their personal board to produce a resource. Any number of free actions may be take on a turn: convert crystals (wild resources to other needed resources), activate crates earned through exploration, and activate unlocked machines on the personal player board. The machine system was one of my favorite things in the game as it require planning, but nothing too elaborate. Again, it felt like turning things on to get things and I really like that system. Players may also choose to hibernate, which is where they return their previously played cards to hand; players also gain a special bonus depending on how many times they have hibernated which helps make those turns feel less meaningless and more important, especially as it relates to timing.
This game won't be good for those who want ultimate control and optimization of their points. There is some randomness in the game, but I felt it was just the right amount. After all, how much can you really plan for as you bring the world back online? For those players, like myself, who want a blend of just enough theme, resource optimization, and a little bit of deck-building like hand management, I can highly recommend this game.
Time 90-120 Minutes