This Resident Evil 2: The Board Game review was made after playing the game nine times.
What is Resident Evil 2: The Board Game?
Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is a cooperative survival game based on the popular video game. Just like in the video game, your goal is to get out of Raccoon City by making your way past undead monsters and completing your objectives.
Resident Evil 2: The Board Game Gameplay
In Resident Evil you can play one-off scenarios or you can play through all of the scenarios in order as a campaign. The one big difference between the two game modes is that you get starter items in the one-off scenarios, while in the campaign you hold on to the weapons you’ve picked up along the way.
Turns are very straightforward: You’ll take four actions, nearby enemies will react, and then you’ll draw a card from the Tension deck. The types of actions you can take include moving, attacking enemies, opening and closing doors, picking up items, and using items. When you attack, you choose a weapon, spin that weapon’s ammo dial down one, grab the dice shown on the weapon’s card, and then try to roll successes.
Enemies that have a path to you will move or attack after you make your attack. They’ll also react after you’ve taken your fourth action. Every time a zombie attacks you, you get a chance to avoid damage by making evade dice rolls.
There are items (weapons, ammo, keys, first aid sprays, etc.) labeled A or B in different areas around the map. Whenever you pick up an item token, you’ll draw a card from either Deck A or Deck B. You’re going to want to get both types of items, but the most important ones are usually in Deck B and they’re often harder to get to.
Every time you move onto a tile for the first time, you have to roll the encounter die and check the table in the scenario book. This is the main way that new enemies show up.
During the Tension Phase, you’ll draw and resolve a Tension card. Most of them are “All Clear” cards and nothing happens, but there are some that make areas tougher to get through or add more zombies to the board.
In most scenarios your goal is to make it to a specific location or defeat a boss. You’ll lose if you need to draw a Tension card and there are none remaining (you’ve run out of time) or if all of your group’s characters die.
Check out the Resident Evil 2: The Board Game rulebook (PDF) for more info on how the game plays.
- Once you understand the reaction rules, there is an excellent flow to Resident Evil 2: The Board Game. You really are just taking four quick actions, moving any reacting enemies, and then flipping a card. There has been very little downtime in my games, even in the two four-player games I played.
- The mechanics are simple, but there are plenty of tough decisions that you have to make. You have to decide which weapons to use, which directions to move, if you should use your precious actions to go get items, and if it’s worth it to kill certain enemies.
- The Resident Evil 2 theme definitely comes through. If you’re a fan of the video game, you’ll recognize everything, from the characters to the locations to the items you find. Also, the story plays out pretty much exactly as it does in the video game.
- I think it’s genuinely exciting to think about how you’re going to complete the objectives. You start off on different sides/levels of the map, so you have to work together to clear out areas and pick up items while moving towards each other, which is just a ton of fun.
- There’s a pretty good amount of replay value here. The goals of the scenarios stay the same, but the Tension deck and the encounter rolls make each game play out differently. I’ve played one of the scenarios three times already and it was still fun the third time around.
- I like that you don’t have to find individual tiles when setting up a scenario, just the shapes. Setup isn’t quick by any means, but it would have taken much longer if you had to find 20+ specific tiles every scenario.
- Putting the Locked cards underneath some of the door tiles was a clever idea. It’s hard to see a lot of what’s on the tiles (see below), but you can clearly see where the most important rooms are.
- On the overall, the component quality is pretty low. I like those ammo dials and the enemy miniatures, but the map tiles are thin and dark, the doors and walls are extremely dark and tough to see on the tiles, and the hero miniatures lack detail. This game deserves better components.
- Setting up the scenarios does take a while. You have to lay out all of those tiles, find the cards for the decks, and put out a bunch of tokens. Teardown takes a while, too.
- The first couple of scenarios are kind of like tutorial missions, but I still think they should have made them a bit more challenging. I would never play those scenarios again as one-offs.
- There are some boring turns where you’re just using your actions to move. That happened to my group multiple times when we had to make it back to a different part of a building and didn’t have any items left to get or enemies in our way.
Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is my type of game. It’s easy to get into, there’s an excellent flow to it, it’s tense, and it requires good cooperation. Honestly, it’s probably the best video game-themed board game that I’ve ever played. I do wish the component quality was better, but the gameplay is very smooth and it really does feel like I’m playing through Resident Evil 2 on the table.
If you’re a Resident Evil 2 fan and you like co-op board games, you should definitely get this game. If you’re a fan of survival games, definitely get this game. If component quality is extremely important to you, you shouldn’t buy it right away, but I still recommend giving it a try since the gameplay is so good.
There are still some other 2019 releases that I need to play, but as of right now Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is one of my top 5 cooperative games of the year.
Update: Resident Evil 2 made it onto the Top Cooperative Board Games of 2019 list!
Update 2: It also made it onto the Top 40 Cooperative Board Games list!