The digital tabletop hybrid game Beasts of Balance takes the best of both worlds, introducing a modern take to a classic concept.
Beasts of Balance combines a more traditional block balancing game with the technological wonders provided by contemporary smartphones and tablets. The result is an engaging and refreshing game that entertains players both young and old.
It should be mentioned right off the bat that the game requires an Android/iOS phone or tablet in order to be played. It is still possible to play if you do not own one of said devices but without its digital features the game becomes just another block balancing game. A tablet is greatly preferable to a phone as the larger screen surface enables players to see better what is going on in the game. Only a single device is required to play, regardless the number of players. A free application of Beasts of Balance can be found on the respective app stores.
The foundation of the game includes a plinth on which to balance the various artefacts. It is connected to the used digital device via Bluetooth. The plinth recognizes when a player touches it with an artifact.
Despite the game’s fancy technological features, the goal of the game is quite simple: placing a beast artefact on the plinth makes it appear in the colorful digital environment. In addition, the game contains element artefacts which may be used to replenish the beasts’ dwindling life energy and cause them to evolve into new forms. Cross artefacts cause the beasts in the digital world to morph into sometimes hilarious hybrids. Miracle artefacts add new challenges to the game such as time limits and reward successful players with point bonuses. All these artefacts must be stacked on top of each other on the plinth. If the tower falls the players have a few seconds to rebuild it before a volcano erupts in the digital world, causing the game to end.
Beasts of balance is a game that is more co-operative than competitive. The participating players work together to try and place as many artefacts on the table as possible, and negotiate with each other for the best courses of action. As such, the game may also be played solo although the difficulty is slightly increased if played this way, as some of the miracle artefact challenges require the player to interact with the digital device while placing new artefacts on the plinth. There is some competitive edge as well, as the game tracks the high scores which the players may attempt to beat.
A single game takes anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on how successful the players are. There is a ton of replayability, with the endless possibilities to stack the artefacts. Trying to maximize the points gained requires some strategic thought, but the game may also be picked up and played by total novices with minimal study of rules. With both the colorful, cartoony design and the relatively simple objective of the game, Beasts of balance appeals to the whole family.
Developers: George Buckenham, Alex Fleetwood
Publisher: Sensible Object Ltd.
Release date: November 5, 2016
Age rating: 7+