Tales of Evil, the review: when the game peeps into reality

Tales of Evil, the review: when the game peeps into reality

Tales of Evil, the review

Tales of Evil by Escape Studios, published in our country by Asmodee Italia, is a cooperative board game of horror and survival with a strong narrative component, in which from one to six players aged thirteen and up will have to play the role of a group of kids from the eighties of the last century. Over the course of various adventures, these young Investigators will have to venture into places inhabited by the forces of evil and, working together, try to get out of them alive, carrying out various missions. These adventures will be guided by a campaign book, which will act as a narrator and which you will have to use as a normal game book.

Characterized by a strong incidence of the metagame, or rather based on the metagame, Tales of Evil aims to provide players, more than a playful experience, a real immersive experience in which the participants will enter the game itself and the game will break into the ordinary reality of the players.

Tales of Evil, the setting

The year is 1982 and, like every summer, a group of kids gather for the holidays in Crystal Country, a town in the state of Maine in the United States. The sleepy life of the American province does not seem to offer them much to have fun, so they decide to found a club, the Pizza & Investigation.

The boys then dedicate themselves to solving the little mysteries that plague the city, investigating cases such as, for example, the disappearance of Mrs. Smith's cat. The group's "investigative" activity continues smoothly until Tommy, one of their friends, disappears without a trace. The group of young investigators then launches into a frantic investigation to find the missing boy.

Thanks to what appear to be psychic powers of a girl in the group, the Investigators manage to get in touch with the future and the reality in which the players live and try to ask for their help to find Tommy. The two different realities and their respective timelines merge and at this point even the players, called “Courageous” in the game, become an integral part of the game itself. All this is possible thanks to the Fusion System.

Tales of Evil, the Fusion System

The mechanics at the base of Tales of Evil and which provides for the aforementioned direct involvement of the player, is called Fusion System and requires that, at certain moments of the game dictated by the campaign book, players must take some actions or interact with some common objects in real life, outside of the game. These actions will have direct consequences on the game itself and on the basis of this interpenetration between reality and fiction, different things and situations may or may not happen.

The Fusion System will not be limited only to making players interact with certain objects , but to advance the plot it will be necessary for the Brave to write emails, send messages or interact with video messages. Obviously, to avoid spoiling the surprise for those who want to start Tales of Evil, we will avoid going into more specifics, but we would like to emphasize the fact that some situations may not be in the hearts of all players.

For give an example, in a situation that arises in the first minutes of the game in the tutorial mission present at the beginning of the campaign book, designed to directly teach the game during a game and therefore not particularly spoilers, a player will be asked to take off the shoes . Also, when the book presents multiple options to choose from, players will have to shout out a sentence together, before pointing the chosen option number with their fingers, which may embarrass the more timid.

Tales of Evil, the set up

Setting up a game of Tales of Evil is something that takes very little time. The set up in this game will change from game to game, as different scenarios will be played as you progress through the story and, of course, everyone will have to be prepared differently, as indicated by the campaign book.

However, there will be some passages always the same. First of all, the Brave (the players) will have to choose the Investigator (if desired, a player can use more than one character) with which to face the game among the six available (it would be seven, but Tommy is the missing boy, so in the basic campaign cannot be used), take the corresponding board, its miniature (or the cardboard token, if you prefer), the Action cards and the Status cards of that character (for the character of Daphne you must also take the cards Ritual), three battery tokens and the Body, Mind and Fright tokens indicated by the Status card with which you will start playing.

The decks of Equipment cards, Special cards and, after having them shuffled, the Discovery, Event, and Trauma card decks. Then, you will simply have to take the card of the chapter you want to play and follow the instructions which, among other things, will indicate which tile, representing part of the building in which the investigators are located and which will be composed as the scenario progresses. , you will have to put into play and in which area of ​​that tile the characters will start their adventure.

Tales of Evil, the game flow

In Tales of Evil, players will not find a real "turn structure", as happens in most board games, as all the characters will venture and move together in the various areas as a group. The guys from Pizza & Investigation, therefore, will never part ways, which may not appeal to purists of dungeon crawlers and exploration games.

However, as in many adventure games of this type, once upon a time that players will explore new areas, some tokens will be placed on the board (Clue, Darkness, Mystery, Research, and so on). These markers indicate various actions that can be taken (investigate a clue, search for an object…). The leader of the group, the player who is currently in possession of the Walkie-Talkie marker, is the one who acts first and who will make all final decisions for the entire group, after each discussion. The Walkie-Talkie marker will pass to a new player upon entering each new area to be explored, so there is no risk that only one person is playing while the others are watching.

Usually, the search of items will result in having to draw a card from the Discovery deck. This will present an item that is paired with a test to be passed using the character's abilities to obtain benefits. Failure to pass the test will usually cause something unpleasant to happen. Characters will always be able to perform a variety of actions such as moving, attacking, using an object, rolling the dice (which have particular symbols corresponding to different results), and so on. But the players will also have to make decisions, perform rituals and tests.

As we have seen previously, in Tales of Evil the various characters have their own board on which various cards and tokens will be placed, including the Status cards. The character's Status cards, numbered from 1 to 4, are designed to indicate the current state of the Investigator and will provide the values ​​of physical and mental health, his fright tolerance threshold and his skill scores. They will be stacked in numerical order and placed on the Investigator's board with the card with the lowest number on top.

When the character suffers physical or mental damage, he will lose an equal amount of the relative tokens. Once a type of tokens drops to zero, it will begin to lose Fright tokens. Once these are also reset, the current Status card will be discarded and the player will have to use the next one, full of counters, which however will usually show lower skill values. Once the last Status card has been discarded, the character will be out of the game.

The players will then explore the various areas and read the passages of the campaign book which will instruct them, guide them and propose them choices and crossroads, precisely like a classic game book. When indicated by the book with a special icon, players must draw an Event card, which usually will cause something sinister or dangerous to happen, such as an attack by a monster. Sometimes, usually when the Fusion System asks you to use some technological device but you don't have it at your fingertips, you will also have to refer to a second book, that of Events.

The game continues in this way until until the story ends with the players' victory or defeat.

The materials

From the point of view of the game materials, Tales of Evil reaches very high levels, except then slip on some lightness that made us turn up our noses a bit.

Let's start immediately with the positive things. First of all, the game box which, in addition to being robust and eye-catching, is well structured inside, with excellent inserts that can house all the game material and "save" the campaign between one chapter and another. In addition, it is phosphorescent and glows in the dark. The dice are also phosphorescent, made of excellent plastic and beautiful to the eye. On the other hand, the miniatures are of medium quality which are still more than pleasant to use during the game, but whose plastic is not the best.

Good cardboard used for boards and tokens, with the exception of the boards of the characters, which show an excessive lightness and fragility. The cards, which are not clothed and therefore easily subject to wear, are also of medium quality, especially those of the decks that will be shuffled at the beginning of the game. The use of protective sleeves is highly recommended.

However, what has disappointed us most is the editorial care of regulations and various booklets. In addition to presenting some typos, we also identified some grammatical errors and an inappropriate use of punctuation. Furthermore, the regulation, which is actually a reference guide, given that the actual rules are learned through the tutorial game, is a bit confusing and not always clear in the exposition.

Nothing to complain about. , instead, on the artistic aspect of Tales of Evil. Both the boards and the tiles, not to mention the cards, are well illustrated and do their job beautifully.


In light of our evidence, Tales of Evil , is a respectable product, despite its limitations and the fact that it is not suitable for all types of players.

The setting is really well done, the guys from Pizza & Investigation are nice and the references to works such as The Goonies, Stranger Things and the like are really evident but never annoying. The quotes, the references, the easter eggs and the various situations point directly to the 80s and it is always nice to recognize something you had to deal with when you were a kid.

The mechanics of the Fusion System is undoubtedly funny, but in reality it was not appreciated by all the participants in our tests. The more timid and those who prefer to approach the game in a less personal way have found themselves uncomfortable in some moments. In addition, some situations that arose turned out to be hilarious which on the one hand certainly amused us, but on the other hand it broke a bit the pathos that had been created with the story.

This proved to be pleasant and engaging, although perhaps a little elementary in some moments and with that “already seen” aftertaste. On more than one occasion, however, we found ourselves reflecting and doubting some choices we made and wondering what would have happened if we had opted for a different course, demonstrating the fact that Tales of Evil has a high level of involvement.

Having said that, sometimes in some moments, such as when changing the scenario or when switching from one action / card to another because it has been resolved, it seemed to us that some explanation was missing at the narrative level . Aside from that, Tales of Evil is a well-designed exploration game that we believe to be successful and enjoyable. Too bad for some défaillance in terms of care of the materials that slightly undermines the final judgment.

A product aimed at…

Tales of Evil is a board game for many but not for all . As we have already stressed several times, the innovative and fun mechanics of the Fusion System, the focal point of the product, is ideal for those who want to be fully involved in the game, but it can be a bit annoying and embarrassing for some.

For the rest, the game is simple, fast and easy to learn, even if the rules / guidelines are not always clear and take some things for granted. Because of this, a newcomer to board games could get lost and not quite clear what to do, which is a shame as it could be an excellent game to offer to introduce those who are not very used to the world of board games.

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