Review – Revive

Revive the earth 5,000 years after its nigh-destruction.

Revive box

 

Designer Helge Meissner, Eilif Svensson, Anna Wermlund, Kristian Amundsen Østby

Artist Gjermund Bohne, Martin Mottet, Dan Roff

Publisher Aporta Games

Category Euro Game

Length 1-2 hrs

Release Date 2022

Player Count 2-4

5,000 years after earth’s demise, many emerge from the underground and seek to revive the planet. Play citizen cards, unlock new technologies, and explore a long-neglected earth in your quest for artifacts!

Review 

In Revive, each player will select 1 of the eventually 6 factions to play as (I say “eventually” because there’s a short 5-game campaign that introduces players to all the different mechanics, including 2 additional factions). Each faction has a few unique powers, but nothing like what you see in Root. The game ends when the last major artifact is claimed, and the winner is the player with the most victory points. 

To begin, each player chooses a faction, grabs a lovely indented technology board, and collects 6 citizen cards and all the necessary pieces. There are 3 basic resources: gear, which is used for building houses; books, which are used for placing population and exploring; and food, which is used for range (traveling) and exploring. There’s a fourth resource called crystal, but it’s essentially a wild resource, so you can use it for any of the aforementioned 3. Resources are tracked on each player’s technology board. 

Also on the technology board are unlockable technologies. Players will progress through each of the 3 technologies (directly related to the 3 basic resources) as they build buildings. Say you build a building next to a gray hex and 2 yellow hexes. You’ll progress your gray (gear) technology once and your yellow (food) technology twice. As you progress, you’ll unlock technology that can be used if you spend an energy marker. Technologies can be quite good (buildings cost 2 gears less, 1 free range), but you can only activate a technology if you have an unused energy token, and you can only activate each technology once.

Of course, there’s the main board as well, which players will explore and populate throughout the game. The main board has 5 starting tiles near the hole where the survivors crawled out, and a bunch of unflipped tiles that players can place as they explore. Each tile is composed of 4 hexes, and the player who paid the exploration cost can choose its orientation. Mercifully, there are only 2 to choose from so no chance of analysis paralysis here (hopefully)! The main board also tracks players’ point totals and hibernations. 

All right, so that’s the 3 boards; time to learn about the actions. Each player will take 2 actions on their turn or choose to hibernate. The actions are: play a citizen card and gain the resources shown, switch the lever and gain a resource (later made more interesting throughout the campaign), explore a new tile, build a building and gain the resources, and populate to unlock a new technology on your player board (different from everyone’s identical technology boards). For the latter 3 actions, you must also pay range for every hex you move through. So if you want to build a building that’s 2 hexes away from 1 of your pieces, you’ll need to pay 1 range (food) because you traveled through 1 hex to get there. If you choose to hibernate, you essentially reset most things. However, your resources remain where they are, and your played citizens move to the resting citizens spot, while your current resting citizens move to your hand so you can play them. 

There are many ways to earn victory points, but most of them involve artifacts. Each player receives a secret artifact scoring card, telling her how they’ll score each color artifact (for example, silver artifacts could score you 1 point per population you’ve placed, purple artifacts could score you 1 point per chemical technology, etc.). Other ways to earn victory points include exploring and placing population meeples out on the map. 

There’s more to it than that, but those are the basics. Yes, it’s a lot to start out with, and you’ll have to look at the rules quite a bit during your first play. There are also a lot of symbols. However, unlike some games with a lot of symbols (looking at you, Race for the Galaxy, though I do enjoy you a lot), these symbols make sense. They’re logical. And that goes for the rest of Revive’s gameplay as well. It is a lot to begin with, but it makes sense how things work together, which makes it really fun when you proactively chain together multiple actions in a row that get you a couple artifacts in one fell swoop. 

There are many solid strategies in Revive, which makes it a really fun multiplayer experience. You could go for buildings, buildings, buildings and max out all your technology tracks; you could populate every hex you can and gain access to all of your tribe’s unique technologies; you could explore here and there, claiming many new citizen cards en route; or you could go for some mix of all of the above. 

Not only are there many viable strategies, there’s also many opportunities for upgrading your actions. I found it quite satisfying when I fine-tuned my faction to be really good at 2 or 3 things through upgrades and research technologies. Upgrading isn’t railed either. Much of the upgrading is customizable, as you’re choosing from anywhere between 3 or 5 different upgrades at a time (I didn’t get into them much during my brief basics overview, but rest assured they are there). 

This is a BIG game.

The components are fabulous. Cardstock is good, the art is on-point, and the indented technology boards scream premium (and they should, because there’s a lot going on and 1 bump shouldn’t ruin a 1.5+ hour game). The box is also well-sized and comes with plenty of plastic bags to hold everything. 

While Revive pulls together a lot of different gameplay mechanics very well, it does have a few flaws. The world board is finicky with all the tiles, especially as often as you have to flip them. While the art is very good and very interesting, the art on the technology boards in particular is too busy for my tastes. 

Now for a personal opinion. I like campaign games. A lot, actually, and I even enjoyed the Mists over Carcassonne campaign that essentially taught you the game. Revive does something similar to what that game does, but in the end, some of the stuff you unlock/add to the game makes it feel like too much for me. Revive is already a lot, and somewhere along the campaign play it felt like the camel’s back was broken. Some of the stuff the campaign adds are cool (new factions), and some of it is quite skippable (choosing citizen cards). This is not a knock or a critique, since these are all optional rules which you can customize before each game.  

Revive is a very good game that will appeal to many people who want tight euros with a strong theme. Yes, I did just use “tight euro” and “strong theme” in the same sentence, and that in and of itself should speak highly of Revive. The upgrade customization Revive offers players provides much replayability and enjoyment, and even if/when you lose, you still get a sense of accomplishment from the civilization which you raised from the cold, dark hole from which you came. 

Aporta Games (Asmodee North America) kindly provided a review copy.

The Bottom Line

When you get past Revive’s fiddly game board, its tight euro gameplay and excellent theming will likely leave you wanting more.   

 

8

spencer
Author: Spencer Patterson

I'm a teacher, writer, and board game reviewer. I especially love board games that pull me in like a good book. My wife is my favorite gaming partner.