A Review of The Dead Eye: A Solo, 3D Gaming Experience

The Dead Eye was a solo card game on Kickstarter back in July 2020. It promised delivery in November 2020, but it just fulfilled this last week (April 20, 2021). Honestly, I was never worried because the team was very open and transparent about everything going on. A Kickstarter only 6 months late in a COVID year? That’s still excellent! Seriously, these guys ran a nice little Kickstarter.

 

The Dead Eye is a solo card game … for only 1 person (see back of box above).  There is no multiplayer mode.  

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But of course, the main reason I picked it up: it’s got 3D cards and glasses!

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Let’s hope it has a good game behind the 3D gimmick!

Unboxing

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Kickstarter and extra cards (3 only)

As a Kickstarter backer, I got some extra content … 3 extra cards. Not that much, but it was 3 extra cards (see below). Better than a sharp stick to the eye …. (which is kinda funny in a game where things are 3D, really). The cards below really give you a sense of what the art looks like in the game.

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The 3 expansion cards

The game box opens to …

… some plastic baggies. These will be used later in the game to “save your state” (some cards get retired, some cards stay) because it’s a basically a 3 stage game: You have to reach 3 Home Bases (in order) to win the game.

Underneath the plastic bags are the three most important things in the game …

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The red and blue 3D glasses!

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You get not one, not two, but THREE pairs of glasses! And in fact, they go out of they’re way to give you two different styles of glasses! Little clip-ons (if you like put them on your glasses or just look at the table like a monocle) like above or more “glasses” like that fit over your ears (see below).

I have a big head (no comments please) and the glasses fit fine on my head.

Next comes a 3D comic book. It’s not very long at all, but it has a 3D story and gives you a flavor of what the theme and the 3D visuals will be like in the game. We’ll see more of the comic book below when we talk more about the 3D experience in the game!

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Next is the rulebook: we’ll discuss the rulebook a lot more below (foreshadowing).

Next comes your main player board. You can see it folds out.

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Front Side of Player Board

The Front Side of the player board has a bunch of Icons that tell you where cards will be placed.

And finally, the cards (see above). They are NOT linen finished.

The cards look pretty cool and the art style is consistent throughout the game. As is the 3D.

There’s one last thing: the plastic slider which will be used to notate where you are in the game (there are 3 stages to the game).

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I’ll be honest, it’s a pretty cheap little device and it kinda dents the card when used. It’s used on the SATMAP (below) to make which stage you are on.

But overall, the game has a really unique and thematic art style that permeates every component of the game. The game components (besides the little plastic marker) are really neat.

And we haven’t even talked about the 3D experience yet!

The 3D Experience

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Normally, I would go to the rulebook here, but we all know the first thing you will do when you get this game is put on the glasses and look at everything!!! (C’mon, it was the first thing I did). How does everything look in 3D?

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So the title on the cards and some of the Icons kind of “float” (see card above) and the background pictures all have some element of 3D to it.

Here’s the thing, this came out MUCH BETTER THAN I EXPECTED. I expected a lot of “red-blue” cards, and there is SOME of that, but the color scheme works really well with the 3D. EVERY CARD in the game has a neat little 3D effect. In the picture above, the little rocket bursts out of the card when you have the 3D glasses on!

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Once you are into the game (and know the rules and don’t have to look anything up), the 3D really is fairly immersive!! You can play the whole game WITH your 3D glasses on and read the cards: they are quite legible even with the glasses on. I also recommend keeping the box art up too (see picture above for a game in progress) because that cover picture REALLY POPS with the 3D glasses on!

Let’s be honest here, you are either going to LOOOOVE the 3D or HATE it. And you probably know before you even buy the game (some people get headaches from the red-blue 3D glasses). I was hopeful that the 3D experience would be good. And you know what? The 3D effects on the cards and boards REALLY DO WORK. AND You can still read everything! Once you are playing the game, the 3D effect is very immersive and thematic.

The Comic Book!  More 3D!

The Comic Book works pretty well with the 3D. If I had one complaint about the 3D is that it sometimes it doesn’t span the pages of the comic book very well. The first page looks great, and has a haunting 3D galaxy behind it!

But the next page doesn’t seem to pop because it spans two pages and doesn’t fold down very well. I think the 3D kind of breaks down when it crosses a fold.

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But the next page this is probably my favorite scene from the little comic book! 

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Overall, the comic book was fun and add a little flavor to the game.  It wasn’t really needed but I’m glad it was there.  It gave me more 3D!!

The Rules and The Rulebook

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The rulebook has made some nice graphic design and the font choices are good. You can read it just fine and it’s pleasant to look at. See above.

The rulebook starts off well with a list of components (see above).

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The next page gives you a nice overview of the game. It discusses the different types of cards and how to distinguish them. I think this was a good choice for this rulebook: it started with the components and then moved on to a quick discussion of some of the cards and what they are.

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The rulebook continues an excellent tradition and shows the set-up. This works pretty well: it has a sequence to do things with an annotation and some little arrows. It was very easy to get set-up!!

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Unfortunately, I think the rulebook doesn’t do a great job after this. It’s okay. The problem with the “How To Play” section is that it needed a flow chart to show places where the solo player makes decisions! It sort of looks like you don’t get to make many decisions: sometimes it looks like all you do is draw cards and just place them out. This is someplace where I expected the player aid to help me out. (The Player Aid cards have saved my bacon in a lot of games: Code 3 was one such example!)

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I felt like a little flow chart here for the player’s aid would have gone a long way.

Here’s the thing: the first few times I played, I wasn’t clear when I had a “choice” of what to do with cards. What I wanted was something that said: “CHOICE” or have two little arrows. The rulebook had done SUCH a good job with the arrows early on!!! I wanted a flow chart … for the first few games, I thought you just drew cards and placed them on the board. I did NOT enjoy that! I really was underwhelmed until I figured out I had a bunch more choices.

  1. CHOICE: You can choose your destination from the Targets (if you have multiple destinations listed in the targets, you only start with one)
  2. If you didn’t take a choice, you have to draw a card.
  3. CHOICE: You can choose to either to either PLAY the card as a destination (goal) or play it on one of two stacks. 
  4. CHOICE: You can REPLACE the current destination, but you have to put the replaced card somewhere

That last choice wasn’t super clear in the beginning. I misunderstood that once you had a destination, you were stuck with it. NOPE!!! You can REPLACE a destination!! This realization opened up the game for me.

The rulebook starts really great. It looks good and it’s easy to read. I just feel like the rules needed one more pass? A flowchart? For some reason, the explanations didn’t work for me. This may just be me, but hopefully my difficulty will make it easier for you to try it.

Gameplay

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Once you get the idea of the game, it moves pretty quickly. Essentially: Choose a destination if you don’t have one. If you can’t draw a card: either make it a destination (goal) or it turns into JUICE or HEAT. JUICE helps you collect destinations and devices to make your game easier. HEAT will cause you to lose HOPE or STRENGTH (or other bad things). Each destination (goal) has JUICE and HEAT triggers. Every card is a destination (or goal), and it is either HEAT or JUICE. The top of the card indicates whether it’s HEAT or JUICE. For example, the two cards on the left are HEAT cards and the right card is a JUICE card (Notice the little symbol on top of the card?)

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The 3 expansion cards

To be clear, JUICE is good, HEAT is bad. Both HEAT and JUICE accumulate until your destination card “triggers”. In the example below, 3 JUICE has accumulated, so it triggers the ROKT card and reach Haven 3! (Notice the trigger of 3 JUICE on the right side of the card).

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Sometimes you gotta play HEAT and hope the triggers are something you can live with. And that’s the key to the choices in this game: know when you replace a destination so you can get rid of some HEAT and keep JUICE around. You may not want a particular HEAT trigger to go off (for example, if you run out of Strength or hope cards, you lose the game), so you may replace your current destination with something else.

There’s a lot of little things to learn as you play, but discovering those things, I think, is part of the fun! So, I don’t want to say too much more here.

This is card game where you make choices along the way. You can get thing to help you (like the BALL above gives you a ROVR which can help you get rid of HEAT) but ultimately you need to get DISTANCE (like KANYTON above gives you +2 distance). To win the game, you need to reach 3 Havens: each is about 10 distance away. Once you get to haven you can reset and start the next stage!!

Some Thoughts

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So, the 3D effects are pretty great. They really do contribute to the theme. And you’ll notice you’ve been able to read the cards despite not having 3D glasses on! Although the 3D is a gimmick, you can still play the game without the glasses and it works pretty well.

There are a lot of problem with the rulebook and there a lot of rules you will have to look at multiple times to understand. There’s still a few rules I’m still not sure about. (For example: How does the action below work? It’s not described in the rulebook. Is it one-time and discard? Is it like a device? Does it just stay up? I have no idea!)

And there’s just enough of these inconsistencies and confusions to be a little maddening. After I got into the game, I just made a choice and moved on, but I’m not sure if I am playing 100% correctly. That’s fine for some people (and I am okay with it), but other people will be very put off by this.

I was also bummed that my cards seemed to showing wear and tear already: I have a little smudge on my card. I wish the cards were linen-finished.

Overall, I liked this game but didn’t love it. I also think it needs some more content: once you’ve done the Safe Haven run a few times, you want some more destinations.

Conclusion

The Dead Eye is a pretty good solo game. The components are really nice. The rulebook starts off great but ends up needing some better gameplay discussion. It will teach the rules, but you may have to read it multiple times for a clear understanding. Once you know the game, it moves quickly and there are some interesting decisions to make. The game probably needs a little more variety (more destinations? more cards?) to keep the game interesting. There’s some replayability in the base box, but I do worry the same destination deck can grow tiresome. The 3D effects are very thematic and immersive and make the game that more enjoyable. If you don’t like 3D, you can still enjoy the game, but you will be missing some of the experience.

Overall, I liked The Dead Eye but didn’t love it. The 3D works really well and it raised my enjoyment of the game. If you think you’d like the 3D, pick up this game!! They did a great job in this little card game work with 3D!!! At some point, the 3D may wear thin, but the game is still decent. If you don’t like the 3D, give the game a try to see if you’d like it: the game works fine without the 3D as well.

5 thoughts on “A Review of The Dead Eye: A Solo, 3D Gaming Experience

  1. I just wanted to answer your question “How does the action below work? It’s not described in the rulebook.” You can actually find the answer on p. 5 of the rulebook. “A Twist Encounter is never gained. It has a special effect and is then discarded.”

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  2. Thanks for this review. The 3d effect seems really intriguing, but that’s just component, not gameplay. I didn’t back because I didn’t understand the rules from the kickstarter. Maybe a few expansions won’t hurt.

    However, you could have taken the stance that as an investor caring for your investment you contact the creator during the kickstarter and dissect the rulebook and send errata until you have a decent one.
    And you didn’t.

    Now I’m not saying that everyone capable should help the creator, but throwing money expecting something and then complaining is well… lazy, in my book. You judge a game as if it was a retail game, and that’s not fair.

    I got involved in a lot of board games that showed potential, and spent quite some time improving their rulebooks. That’s how I interpret “helping the creator making his dream a reality”.

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