UNDO – Forbidden Knowledge
Nearly every kind of escape room game takes the “escape” part literally, putting your group into a terrible situation that you have to get out. With so many variations on this theme, it’s hard for new entries in this genre to feel fresh.
Michael Palm and Lukas Zach have found a new way to guide players through a similar experience – but instead of trying to escape a place, you are trying to undo a death. Yikes!
The UNDO series is published by Pegasus Spiele. Up to six players can complete a case in 45-90 minutes.
How to play UNDO: Forbidden Knowledge
Every UNDO game starts with a character dying. You will be choosing several points in that character’s history to investigate. Your goal is to figure out HOW they got to this point. Can your choices and subtle influence stop it from happening?
The game cards themselves explain how to play. From the moment you open the box, you will start being pulled into this mysterious death.
You’ll lay out all the Story cards, and a Clue that goes with each one. The instructions direct you to the card that describes a young man’s mysterious (and terrifying) death.
Choose a player to be the final say for this first turn – where will you go to begin unraveling this death? Once the decision has been made, return one of the nine Time cards to the box, and flip over the chosen Story card.
Every Story card also has a choice to make: How your group will try to influence the past to affect the critical moment.
Once the group decides on a course of action, find the appropriate Fate card (number/letter)… and find out if you were able to change the story for the better. Then it’s the next player’s turn to decide which Story card the group should try next.
Once you have used all your Time cards, you’ve reached the end of the story. Add up the points from your Fate cards and reveal how well you changed this victim’s fate.
After ranking your score you can read what really happened, or reset the deck to try again another time.
Can you weave fate to prevent this tragic death?
UNDO: Forbidden Knowledge is based on a short story from H.P. Lovecraft. It manages to be sufficiently creepy in its descriptions without fully descending into horror. No monsters or soul-destroying horrors are ever “seen” directly as you travel forward and backward in time.
Since we played it together as a family, our kids had enough separation from the material that they weren’t scared. But our youngest did joke afterward about nightmares. Generally, I’d say the 10+ suggested age range on the box is about right, and not to play this with sensitive kids.
Limited Choices Move the Story Along
It is clear from the very beginning of the game that you won’t be able to explore every bit of the story. Although there are 13 Story cards, you get only nine Time (travel) cards and four Investigation cards to reveal more information. This scarcity made us careful with our choices – most of the time.
We weren’t always careful, because it wasn’t always adults in charge. The rule book suggests taking a lot of time to immerse yourselves in the story and discuss options, but also states that the “final decision” should be taken in turns around the table. Our youngest child gleefully cackled as he chose a new Story card to reveal its secrets.
This helped the game move, too. Because there were no puzzles that had to be solved, we would discuss the problem, agree on an answer (or let the final decision maker choose), and move on. We never lost kids who got bored while we were stuck on a problem, because the story is foremost in these games.
Horror and Insanity
Could you limit the damage done by people searching for secrets man was not meant to know? Which points in time will offer information that helps, and which will only offer choices that make things worse?
Every Story card offered three choices, but they were often still cryptic. You never get enough information to make a “good” choice. But often in a horror story, there isn’t even a “good” choice! Sometimes your only options are bad and worse.
True to the story’s Lovecraftian origins, some choices also caused “insanity”. Insanity is completely separate from whether or that particular choice was helpful, and acts as a sort of multiplier for negative points accumulated by the end of the game.
Try an UNDO adventure if you want to try a boxed adventure that feels different from any escape room. Unlike the EXIT or Unlock! series, you can’t ever get stuck trying to solve a puzzle. The only puzzle in UNDO is trying to figure out what happened, and you are forced to make choices with incomplete information.
If your family would like to dip a toe in Lovecraftian horror, try UNDO: Forbidden Knowledge. Not sure this theme is right for your family? Look for our video SNAP review of UNDO: Cherry Blossom Festival, coming soon! Or try a sample case from Pegasus Spiele.
But if unspeakable horrors escaping their ancient confinement is your family’s idea of fun, find UNDO: Forbidden Knowledge at your local game store, or on Amazon.
The Family Gamers received a copy of UNDO: Forbidden Knowledge 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.
UNDO: Forbidden Knowledge
Age Range: 10+ (not suitable for struggling readers or sensitive kids)
Number of Players: 2-6
Playtime: 45-90 minutes