New Dawn City has long struggled to live up to its promise. Founded with the hope of being a haven of peace, prosperity, and equality, those ideals have long been abandoned. Corrupt leadership and a powerful criminal Syndicate have stripped away everything NDC was supposed to stand for. However there is hope. If irrefutable evidence of their Syndicate’s plot to take over the city is brought before the courts, they can be taken down once and for all.
As an elite agent in a secretive wing of the NDC police department, you’ve just been recruited for the most important mission of your career. You’ll have to risk everything, going undercover to foil the Syndicate, but the more you embrace the criminal lifestyle, the bigger the toll will be on you.
The criminals of the city have been implanted with cybernetic enhancements that make them faster, stronger, and more agile. These advantages have made it next to impossible to combat the spread of crime, at least until recently. Government hackers have found a way to break into the cybernetics these criminals use, giving us a chance to gain Grip on their minds and take control of their actions. By ‘hooking in’, you can dictate their actions in the city. There are limitations, of course. You won’t be able to force them to do anything they wouldn’t already be willing to do. Luckily, there’s not much that falls into that category for this unsavoury lot. Your goal as a deep undercover agent will be to go along, and even assist in crimes to gain the crucial evidence you need to take down the Syndicate once and for all!
You start each turn being able to hook in to one of the criminals in the city. You may even control several at once, but splitting your consciousness like that can cause conflict. The more time you spend in the minds of the criminals, the more Grip you have over them. You become better at controlling them, accessing their special abilities and even gaining bonus actions over time. The tough decisions on your turn come during the Actions phase. You spend actions to move criminals around the city, pick up items, use the special powers of a Zone, or use a criminal’s special ability. As you’re spending your actions, you can complete Side Crime cards if the conditions are met. Once you’ve completed all of your actions, you can complete one Story Crime. These are usually more complicated jobs that are tougher to pull off, but offer a bigger reward of Evidence and Intel if you manage to do it.
As a cop, you swore an oath to protect the city. Committing crimes, even for a good cause, is hard on your subconscious. Sometimes while on a job, you may be tempted to hold back a bit. At other times, you mat want to push it to get deeper into the Syndicate’s plot. With each Story Crime you complete you’re given a choice. The path you choose determines the Evidence and Intel you gather as well as how many Dilemma cards you take. These cards have rewards you gain at the end of the game, but collect too many of them and you risk crossing the line and becoming fully corrupt . When you complete a Story Crime, you are automatically unhooked from any criminals you were controlling.
In Too Deep is played over three chapters. There is a Syndicate plot you attempt to foil each chapter. Working with the group to defeat that plot can earn you rewards, but fail to contribute, and you may be punished.
After the final chapter has been resolved, Evidence tokens contributed to the Final Plot are revealed determining whether you’ve built a case that can bring the Syndicate to justice or not. Successfully foiling the main plot, has repercussions in the scoring. The player who has gained the highest total corruption has gone in too deep. They lose points equal to their corruption level, which can be a devastating blow to their score. Playing a clean game with low levels of corruption earns you points based on the number of players in the game. Everyone adds their Intel and points for the Evidence they’ve collected, and then score out the bonuses on their Dilemma cards. In the end, one cop will stand above the rest.
There are no guarantees in life. As a cop with the NDPD you put yourself in harm’s way everyday. The battle for the soul of the city takes place on two fronts: on the streets and in the mind. Can you stay focused and restore order to the city, or will you go In Too Deep?
In Too Deep is launching on Kickstarter on June 23.
Sean J. is a member of the Burnt Island Games team. This article is meant to share information rather than a traditional review.