Planet of the Apes Review

Planet of the Apes (IDW Games)

I always get nervous when a board game is made based on my favorite intellectual properties. There just don’t seem to be that many games that really hit the nail on the head when it comes to capturing the mood, tension, and atmosphere of a popular TV show, book, or film.

So with that in mind, I was a little skeptical about IDW Games’ Planet of the Apes. Even though it was created by genius game designer Richard Launius, best known for Arkham Horror and Elder Sign, my fear was that the game just wouldn’t live up to my love for the source material.

I was pleasantly surprised then when Planet of the Apes turned out to be delightful. Though it’s not the intense “man vs ape” scenario-based, story-driven game I would prefer, Planet of the Apes is a simple and fun cooperative dice chucker that more of less works its way through the 1968 movie.

I don’t recall Colonel George Taylor, Charlton Heston’s character in the movie, as having dissociative personality disorder. However, in this game, each player takes on a different aspect of his psyche. So one player is “The Defiant Taylor,” while one player is “The Cynical Taylor,” etc. The players team up to play through each scene, attempting to roll certain combinations of dice as laid out on beautifully illustrated cards a la Yahtzee. Players may manipulate their dice by playing cards and taking advantage of special abilities granted to them on their character cards. Though it’s not a very deep game, Planet of the Apes is extremely engaging. The tension and excitement are gripping as you throw your dice in hopes of getting the roll you need to move on to the next encounter or scene.

For board gamers who are fans of the original sci-fi film, this game will be essential. The art is incredible, and the box will look super cool on your shelf. For everyone else, Planet of the Apes is definitely worth a play or two. Players who’ve never seen the movie will likely be finding themselves renting it after a game. This title does a great job of drawing you into the Apes universe.

The only negative thing about this game is that the rulebook is seriously lacking. Though Planet of the Apes is supposed to play in 60-90 minutes, it took much longer as we spent a fair amount of time fumbling through the rules looking for answers which are apparently not there. A game like this, with a lot of cards, could definitely use a page or two dedicated to clarifications for every card. 

There are rumors that if Planet of the Apes is successful enough, IDW Games will release titles based on the other movies in the franchise. For that reason, here’s hoping this game sells a lot of copies, so we can play through all the adventures of the cinematic universe. (IDW Games) by Josher Lumpkin