SNAP Review – UNDO: Cherry Blossom Festival
A man in his sixties is lying lifelessly on the floor of his living room. He has no visible injuries, but there is a broken wineglass and an old photo next to him. His cellphone is ringing. Can you undo his tragic death?
This is a SNAP review for UNDO: Cherry Blossom Festival. The UNDO series is by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach. 2-6 players can solve this mystery in 45-90 minutes. It’s best for ages 10+, since strong reading skills are required and the theme is about death. Pegasus Spiele publishes the UNDO series – we reviewed UNDO: Forbidden Knowledge a few weeks ago, and you can find the link here.
There are four types of cards primarily used in this game. Each one has a slightly different theme, although they are all tied together stylistically.
There are the Instructional cards, which are mostly white with a neat little border decoration.
Then there are the Story cards: these are the meat of the game, with lanterns and Japanese decorations on the back side that tell you a time and a place and a pagoda / cherry blossom theme on the front side surrounding the text. Read these carefully.
This theming carries over exactly to the Clue cards, which represent objects you might investigate more closely.
There are also Time and Magnifier cards. The Magnifier cards continue the Japanese theme with gold flowers and a tatami mat background. The Time cards look more similar to our last category, Fate cards.
The Fate cards and Time cards have a star-filled galaxy theme – this appears to be the same across all the UNDO games.
So Andrew, let’s talk about the mechanics and how to play UNDO.
Every UNDO game starts with a character dying. (That’s a little morbid! But it is what it is.) You will be choosing several points in this character’s history to investigate. Your goal is to figure out how they got to this point. What happened? Can you make subtle changes to stop this death from happening?
The game cards themselves will explain how to play. From the moment you open the box, you will start being pulled into this mysterious death.
Lay out all the Story cards, and a Clue that goes with each one. The instructions direct you to the card that describes this man’s death.
You’ll want to talk it over and decide where you’ll “travel” first. Drop a Time card back in the box, then have the next player flip the chosen Story card and start reading.
Discuss your options and pick one of the three choices presented on the bottom of the card: A, B, or C, then find the Fate card for that exact answer. The Fate card will assign a numerical score to your choice and show you if you made things better, worse, or about the same.
Then it’s on to the next player, to decide which Story card comes next. At any time, you can also spend one of your four Magnifier cards to read a Clue.
Once you’ve spent your last Time card, and made your final choice of Fate, you’re done. Add up the results of all your Fate cards and compare to the solution. Did you change history enough?
If not, you can put the game aside and try again for a better score another day. But if you’re like our family and you’re impatient, you can also just read the story of what really happened, whether or not you won the game.
[Anitra] when I first heard of the UNDO series, I expected something like the escape-room boxes we’ve tried in the past; searching for clues and solving a mystery. That’s kind of what this is, but not exactly.
Even after playing through UNDO: Forbidden Knowledge, I expected the mechanics of this game to be the same, but I wasn’t sure how it would feel with a different theme. I was hoping the theme on this one would be less creepy, though. (It was less creepy. It was a lot less creepy.)
What surprised us about UNDO in general, and the Cherry Blossom Festival specifically?
UNDO is not really an escape room. You’re working together to solve a mystery and make changes, but it’s more like collaborative story telling with a time limit. It’s like Quantum Leap, bascially. Although there are thirteen Story cards, you only get to travel nine times, so there will always be some Story left untold.
You never really have enough information to make a good decision; but you can make choices with the information you have.
There were two things that kept our kids more engaged with this than a typical escape room.
Every player gets a turn to be the final decision-maker, choosing where to go and what Fate to change. Our kids loved this chance to have the final say.
Second thing is, it’s not a puzzle game. We’d talk about the problem, agree on an answer, and move on. We never lost kids to boredom while we were stuck on a problem, because the story is foremost in these games.
This isn’t a thing where dad’s working on one puzzle on one side of the table, and mom’s working on another puzzle, and the 8-year-old is left picking his nose. That doesn’t happen in these UNDO games!
This particular UNDO game was more sad than scary, which was also a surprise. But we liked that over the Forbidden Knowledge UNDO box.
UNDO: Cherry Blossom Festival is not a good fit for very young children and the sad story may be too much for sensitive kids.
But our family loved it! We’d recommend it for families with older kids and teenagers.
Even if they don’t like traditional board games, they may enjoy solving this mystery together as a family and piecing together the story of what actually happened.
What are we going to rate UNDO: Cherry Blossom Festival? 4 1/2 cherry blossoms out of 5.
Find it on Amazon or at your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of UNDO: Cherry Blossom Festival from Pegasus Spiele North America for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
UNDO: Cherry Blossom Festival
Age Range: 10+ (not suitable for struggling readers or sensitive kids)
Number of Players: 2-6
Playtime: 45-90 minutes