Escape from the Aliens In Outer Space

Escape is probably best described as Battleships meets The Thing - in space.

Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is exactly what it says on the box. You are a team of humans working onboard a space station which has been overrun with a horrific alien plague that is slowly but steadily transforming the crew into pesky human eating aliens. In the game you will take the role of either a human or alien and attempt to work out the identities of your fellow players. If you’re a human, you’ll need to be making your way to an escape pod to escape the deadly creatures once and for all. If you’re an alien, you need to work out who the humans are and hunt them down.

Escape is probably best described as Battleships meets The Thing - in space.

Each player is given a whiteboard layout of the ship and uses their marker pens to make notes and track the locations of other players. While traversing across the ship, players may choose to take the risk of stepping onto a dangerous sector tile which forces them to draw a dangerous sector card. This card will secretly inform them if they can lie about their location, if they must announce their current location or if they don’t need to declare anything at all.

So, if a player declares they have just stepped onto G06 the other players are likely to make a note of this on their pads and attempt to work out if it’s a lie or the truth which they can determine based on the previous moves - aliens and humans move at different speeds and have differing starting positions.

If an alien thinks they’ve tracked down a human they can declare that they are attacking a nearby zone which immediately reveals them as an alien since humans can’t attack without the aid of additional power cards or abilities. This will either eliminate the human (which in-turns spawns them now on the alien team), be a miss which reveals the location of an alien or accidentally count as an attack against an alien eliminating said alien from the game.

What it’s like to play

As with all the best hidden role games its super satisfying to be a sneaky alien whose managed to force the humans to fight amongst themselves whilst you edge closer and closer to pouncing on them. Likewise, being hunted by three aliens and managing to somehow evade them is an equally exnihilating experience particularly as aliens move at twice the speed of humans.

This is a tense game to play and never more so when approaching an escape pod and discovering whether it is faulty. If it works then gg, you’ve escaped the aliens in outer space, if not, you’ve just announced your location to every alien in the room and you’ve got a mighty long trek to make your way to another pod.

The game offers a ton of unpredictability due to the addition of unique character abilities for every human and alien that are randomly handed out at the start of the game. This could involve a human who is ‘The Soldier’ and has the ability to attack an alien once per game or ‘The Psychic Alien’ who has more opportunities to lie about their location. These abilities are well balanced, and most can only be used once per game which prevents any of them from being particularly over powered. Thanks to these unique abilities you never quite know who is lurking in the shadows.

Human players also have access to a selection of item cards which they can draw from the dangerous sector deck. These items give the humans extra chances to escape such as teleporters, sedatives and even a heavily ‘Alien’ inspired cat ability which allows you to create distractions in two different sectors of the ship.

Cats do NOT like aliens

These items and abilities add a lot of depth to the game however I personally have found them to be a bit overwhelming (especially for new players) and I’d definitely recommend not using them in your first few games as you get used to how basic movement works, and the strategies required to not give away your identity.

Are we the baddies?

As the tense atmosphere builds and builds the game has the potential to be hilarious when mistakes inevitably happen. As mentioned earlier from my own experience, it is bizarre and totally comes out of left-field when an alien accidentally eliminates another alien. It’s a rare occurrence, which is good as player elimination is generally pretty rubbish, but somehow, the sheer ridiculousness of an alien pouncing on a human only to find it’s a fellow alien and then walking away from the corpse of the recently deceased alien whistling, almost makes up for it. Despite the humans technically being on the same side, I would never consider Escape from The Aliens to be cooperative for the humans. Each escape pod only works for one human and some of them might not work at all which encourages a frantic rush to get to one first as opposed to a united stand against the aliens.

You know how in science fiction films, there’s always that slimy weasel of a character who will betray their friends for a chance to live? Well this is a ship full of them. Trust no-one!

It’s fascinating to observe players around the table - especially in the beginning of the game which is mostly played in silence whilst everyone is suspicious of each other. In stark contrast the latter half of the game often see’s aliens actively shouting and plotting out loud whilst they attempt to track down the remaining humans.

Hearing an alien with absolute certainty state your location, attack the zone and then realise that they are mistaken is an incredible rush and it’s great to see a hidden roles game whereby both sides need to keep something secret.

This creates a gaming experience whereby both sides will have a puzzle to solve as they move across the board as opposed to the one-sided focus of games like Ultimate Werewolf and The Resistance on ‘the baddies’.

Speaking of the hidden roles genre, Aliens solves a lot of issues I have with other secret identity games in that they lack particularly deep mechanics aside from lying to your mates faces. Escape has that for sure; but it also has strategic movement, the use of unique abilities/items, very minimal player elimination and unique puzzles to solve with each game.

Regarding player count, the game definitely works better with more players as it actively encourages teamwork to keep track of the locations of players on the opposing teams. This in-turn makes inevitable betrayals all the more satisfying/heart-breaking. There are some specially designed maps for smaller player counts – I’m glad they’re included but they don’t show off escape at its best resulting in games that are over far too quickly.