Author – Diogo Nogueira (@diogo_oldskull)
Where to Buy – https://diogo-old-skull.itch.io/lost-in-the-deep
Elves? Nah. Dragonborn? More like dragon-yawn. Dwarves?
In “Lost in the Deep”, the player takes on the role of the last surviving member of a group of dwarves exploring the long lost dwarven city under the Mother Mountain. If you’re reading that and thinking, “You know what? That sounds awesome. Also, it sounds a lot like the Mines of Moria,” you’d be right on both counts. Congratulations! Lost in the Deep is awesome, and the author, Diogo Nogueira, makes no effort to hide the source of his inspiration.
And why should he? Aside from when the ents attack Isengard, the Mines of Moria is the coolest part of The Lord of the Rings and yes, that is a hill I’m willing to die on. I’m glad Tom Bombadil got cut from the movie. Come at me, fellow nerds!
Much like the dwarf whose last words Gandalf reads in the Mines of Moria, your character is struggling to survive under the threat of the things that lurk in the shadows of the lost city. And, much like that unfortunate dwarf, your character is as good as dead, as Lost in the Deep is a Wretched and Alone game and, as such, is highly lethal.
Throughout the game, your dwarf will discover lost parts of your civilization, interact with/flee the things in the shadows that hound your every step, and search frantically for the stairs that just might lead you to the surface. As with other Wretched and Alone games, Lost in the Deep has your character recording each day’s events in a journal, and the events are generated by drawing cards from a deck and consulting tables divided by suits. Some cards are merely creative writing prompts (excellent, evocative prompts, by the way!) while others have a bit more mechanic weight behind them.
Often times (30/52 times, if my napkin math is correct), a card you draw from the deck will have you pull a block from your Jenga tower as a way of symbolizing the increasingly precarious situation you find yourself in as your supplies run low and your injuries/madness/desperation increase. But all is not hopeless! If you draw certain cards and roll certain numbers on a d6, you just might make it out of the Mother Mountain alive.
But you won’t. I mean, you can, sure, but it’s nearly impossible. And that’s okay, as long as you are fully aware of the type of story most Wretched and Alone games are designed to tell. The hope the game provides is really just a cruelly clever way of making the exquisite agony of failure all the more powerful. In much the same way that a little salt makes bitter chocolate all the sweeter, the little glimmer of hope the mechanics provide makes your character’s downfall all the more deliciously painful. And if you want to tell a compelling story of hope and loss, of discovery and damnation, then Lost in the Deep is the game for you.
DISCLAIMER: I did not receive anything for free in exchange for this review. However, I have worked with the author, Diogo Nogueira, in the past, as I paid him to design our super sweet logo. We’ve never discussed this game but the fact that I enjoyed it so much AND love his art so much that I asked him to design our logo just goes to show that he is amazingly multitalented (and that I have fantastic taste).