Level 7: Omega Protocol Creates a New Kind of Dungeon Crawl
Level 7: Omega Protocol is the big brother of Level 7: Escape. Set in the same story line, instead of the escaping research subjects, you are now a playing a team of highly trained commandos sent to make sure the alien insurrection, led by Dr. Cronos, ends inside Subterra Bravo. Omega Protocol shares storyline with Escape, but the games are very different.
Escape is similar to other horror survival games like Mansions of Madness or Betrayal at House on Haunted Hill. Running away from the baddies and hoping that you can outsmart them long enough to find a way to escape. In those games, you're not so worried about killing the bad guys, but more concerned with finding a way to avoid them.
Omega Protocol brings in the guns. Instead of thinking a pistol is your only hope of survival, you have grenades, countermeasures, armor and plenty more at your disposal. This game is much more like Descent or Space Hulk. Your group of commandos must go into the facility and clear out the enemies while meeting their mission objectives.
Like most of these games, you'll be digging a lot of bits out of the box in order to set up, but it's something the overseer, or the bad guy, can and should do before the commando players sit down to play.
Omega Protocol includes a nice variation on how rooms and doors work. First, doors aren't permanent. There is no keeping up with doors being open or closed or locked. They share tiles similar to the rest of the map and have challenges on the hidden side for the players to beat before they can enter the room. Once the challenge has been beaten, the door marker is removed from the game.
Each room has a stack of room cards. The rulebook sets which stacks may be used, but it does not say where the stacks must be placed. These cards will include dangerous gas clouds, enemy spawns or other hazards awaiting the commandos. They will also include any mission objectives in the room.
All these cards are revealed and resolved when a door is opened. If you are on the commando team, you'll want to open the doors early in your teams activation so that you can respond to the new threats you just uncovered. If you open a door as the last thing you do, the overseer will have plenty of room to attack your team. This creates a fog of war and gives the overseer an opportunity for a little strategy in objective placement. The players can't play the same mission twice and know for sure that the objectives will be in the same place each time.
The missions often include downloading data from a specific computer or shutting down the ventilation systems that help the aliens breathe, but there will be plenty of alien fighting as the overseer gets to spawn enemies and cause cave-ins with his "dashboard" of abilities.
The commandos "spend" adrenaline by adding it to their pool each turn to take special actions, attacks, and heal. On the following turn, those adrenaline tokens get handed to the overseer for him to use on abilities. The harder the commandos push through the level, the more resources the overseer will have to spend on his turn to spawn more aliens, monsters, and traps.
Similar to Descent, this game has colored dice for attacks. Fortunately, they only come in two colors; red and black. Red is a more powerful die and used much less often than the black die.
Combat is simple. Roll enough hits on the dice to equal or exceed your targets defense, score a hit. For the weaker figures, this will outright kill them. For the tougher figures and the commandos, they will receive wounds until they are incapacitated.
Just like Level 7: Escape, the art on the board is excellent. The minor details such as trails following bodies across the floor or destroyed paneling keep true to the environment from Escape. The miniatures improve upon the cardboard standees from the previous game. From a company already familiar with miniatures, they manage to get some solid detail from the plastic figures.
Overall, it has proven to be a solid game, plus with the scenarios being replayable by mixing up the location of objectives, even experienced players shouldn't have a problem playing certain missions over again. Omega Protocol should be entertaining from start to finish.
Both of the missions we have played so far vary drastically in how they play. If each mission continues to be unique and pose different challenges for the players, this game should last a while.
Plus, who wouldn't expect an expansion or two? I mean, the fiction mentions at least two other Subterra bases that need to have the Omega Protocol enforced...