Broadway: 1849

by Robert Davis

Historical
2017

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- I_slee, July 29, 2023

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A CS game based on real New York history with slow start but stronger finish, March 4, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This game was pretty good overall, but had some sticking points.

You play as a Broadway theatre owner in 1849. You mingle with many historical figures such as Horace Greeley and Herman Melville.

The main challenges are to balance the demands of the people with the demands of the elite; to work with the mayor and the real government or the Know-Nothing gang; to befriend or destroy Hamblin, the rival theatre owner; discovering a supernatural mystery; deciding what kinds of plays to run; and handling romances.

I thought the opening chapter was fairly boring, but by the middle I was invested in the story and found it entertaining.

Stats were a mixed bag. It was very confusing telling the difference between acting and showmanship, between authority/negotiation/producing, between streetwise and notoriety.

The game very frequently forces you to make choices then pick why or how you do it; I was writing down every time it happened but it was too frequent. It's especially jarring since these forced choices can directly contradict your play method. For instance, (Spoiler - click to show)I worked with Ned Buntline and the gangs from the start, with no interest in the 'fancy' part of town. But the game forced me twice to confront Ned about things, and forced him once to attack me, despite us doing everything together and me keeping his secret. Similarly, you are forced to accept a possible spy into your midst, you are forced to rescue an attacked news person, etc. The effect of all of this was to feel a lot less in control of the story. Of course, it makes the overall narrative tighter since the author is in control of most things you do, but it was frustrating.

The stats are very meagre, as well. After the first chapter, I had only 3 skills which were above baseline, each by only a single boost for a total of 3 boosts. If I had chosen differently, I could have boosted only 2 skills with the other boost going to an opposed stat (which could later be erased by other choices). The author solved that by making essentially every choice in the game winnable if you have even a single boost in a stat, but made it more difficult by obfuscating which stat helps with what.

Overall, though, it was a positive story experience, and made me interested in early New York.

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- mifga (Brooklyn, NY), October 22, 2020


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