Game Review: Alone Among the Stars

Gamewright: Takuma Okada / @takuma_okada_ / patreon
Year: 2018
Genre: Journal RPG
Players: 1
Length: 4 page
Playtime: 1 hour or less
Get it here: Itch
Score: ★★★★★

Who might enjoy this game?

  • Folks who enjoy visualization exercises
  • Folks who enjoy thinking about outer space
  • Folks who enjoy contemplative journaling or sketching
  • Folks looking for a no prep, solo game

Takuma Okada’s Alone Among the Stars has been on my list for a long time. I rarely invest time in my day for just playing games by myself, but it’s a habit I’m trying to form. Alone Among the Stars was the first journal rpg that I ran across on Itch.io. To play it, one journals about their randomly generated space encounters. The game provides brief but juicy prompts that come from rolling 1d6 and pulling from a deck of playing cards. There is something magical about throwing a dice and drawing cards to find out what fantastic sights you’ll see next. As an artist, I can be a little picky about book design and visual presentation, but I found, once I got going, the sparse book design just helped me focus on the story in my head.

I put on a Vaporwave playlist and sat at my gaming table with my sketchbook. I decided that I would rather make sketches for my play through, since I haven’t been drawing as much as I’d like. Fortunately, Alone Among the Stars is as well suited for sketch prompts as it is for writing prompts. I decided to add a house rule to keep my pen moving, a random oxygen ration. I rolled an extra dice and added it to the first to give me my time limit for each sketch. I felt like it made each sight even more exciting because I only had a little bit of time to show people what I was seeing in my head. It made my journey seem more fleeting and precious! I’ve added my sketches below.

I don’t think I’ll ever play Alone Among the Stars for hours at a time, but it’s a lovely game that can fuel your imagination and give you an alibi to just sit and write or draw for yourself. And hey, if space travel doesn’t do it for you, there are plenty of other options. Tamuka and many other gamewrights have created a whole sub-genre, called Alone at the Table, that explores other settings and mechanics. Tamuka has also written a two-player hack of her own game, called Together Among the Stars. There is even a kickstarter for a collected edition of her Alone at the Table games, so I hope you can jump on board for that! I have! The campaign runs until February 25 2020.

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