Relationships can be hard work. Despite anything that romantic comedies might tell you, not every relationship works out well. Fog of Love gives players a chance to actually play out a relationship in the same style as a romantic comedy, with all of the twists, turns and drama you might expect. Throughout the course of a game of Fog of Love, each player takes control of one member of a relationship. The point of the game is to role-play as two unique characters which are drafted by both players at the beginning of the story. Each character has different goals, traits, and occupations at the start which affect their personal story, and while Fog Of Love bills itself as romantic comedy, it comes across more serious and dramatic than it does comedic.
Fog of Love offers something quite unique for a board game. Firstly, it's a game which doesn't necessarily prioritize winning. While it is technically possible for a game to end in either victory or defeat for each player based on what it was they were hoping to achieve by the end, the game prioritizes playing a character well. The other way in which Fog of Love differs from most board games is in its role-playing. Unless you sit down at a table to play an RPG of some kind you rarely have to rely on actually role-playing as a character as part of a game. Some games can give you a character with the option to role play as them, but very few actively require you to become a character to even play the game.
Most of the actual story that you play through each game takes place using different cards. Each of the included stories is split into chapters, with each chapter requiring a certain number of cards to be played. Each player takes it in turns to play a card from their hand which usually requires one or both parties to make a decision based on the character they are playing. Each decision rewards players with different attribute points on a joint tracker.
Most of your chance of succeeding in Fog of Love relies on these different attribute points. Each player's personal goals rely on players getting a certain total of different attributes, either a personal total or a joint total with your partner. The fact that your goals are kept a secret from your partner, and the fact that certain goals require you to have a joint total with your partner, means that often times you can find yourself working against each other without really knowing it until the end. There are many mechanics like this in the game which feel analogous of problems experienced in a real relationship. If you and your partner are working towards different goals then there's a real possibility that neither of you will end up with what you actually wanted.
Fog of Love comes with 4 unique love stories to play through, each with their own framing and themes. They offer a variety of different situations, from a chance meeting at a party to a pair of high-school sweethearts and even a turbulent relationship that doesn't seem particularly stable. The different stories offer different levels of difficulty and provide a unique story experience based on which cards are used to tell them. Each of the cards played by the two characters come in 3 basic flavors, sweet, serious and drama. This is the way in which each of the stories manages to feel different, despite pulling from the same pool of cards. Each different chapter requires the players to pull from a different type of card, meaning that a game can feel more chaotic, serious, or sweet depending on the mix of cards played.
The fact that each game of Fog of Love employs different characters each time, and uses a different blend of card types gives the game replay value beyond each of the four included stories. While the frame might be the same when replaying a story, the characters taking part and the different life decisions makes each play vary greatly. Even if you're replaying the same story with the same person, the outcome and story moments can be very, very different.
Of course, Fog of Love does suffer somewhat from its own unique nature. While it is a very interesting game which offers a lot of replay value, the gameplay will not be for everyone. Having to take on the role of another character in a relationship could be quite difficult for certain people, and doing so is absolutely integral to how the game works. You cannot approach this game intending to play like yourself, partially because some of the decisions may strike a little close to home, and of course because it would get boring to replay the same stories over and over again as the same people. Anyone who struggles with role-playing a character might not find the experience off-putting. On top of that, a passing interest in human relationships or romantic comedies are probably almost necessary. If you're really into games with definitive winners and losers you'll also probably want to look elsewhere, since Fog of Love is more about the story than it is about winning.One of the final things to touch on for Fog of Love is its most striking feature: the visual design. Almost everything in Fog of Love uses pale pastel shades with white borders. When you first see the game set up it has one of the cleanest looking aesthetics of any game out there. Most of the board and the components are white, with brief splashes of color here or there. Even the front cover is almost completely white, with only the silhouette of the two characters on the front depicted in any color. This whole design gives the game a feeling of light and airiness, tying very heavily into the slightly twee and saccharine aesthetic espoused by many romantic comedy movies. As well as tying the game to the source material, it also makes it stand out from other board games. I have to admit that the first thing which attracted me to the game when I saw it was just how different it looks compared to most other board games I play.
The Bottom Line:
Fog of Love is a game which will likely only find a niche audience. Having to role-play a character well enough to make decisions for them can be difficult, but players also have to be into the minutia of human relationships. Regardless of any niche the game might fall into it does what it sets out to do rather well. The decision making and character-playing aspects of the game lend themselves to repeat playthroughs, even if you only get a chance to tackle the 4 stories included. The visual design is so strong that on its own it is probably enough to attract the attention of anyone who notices you playing it, and if you can find someone you enjoy playing it with you're liable to get hours and hours of fun out of the 4 included stories.
Get This Game If:
You want a game which will stand out on your shelf and your table.
You're interested in role-playing.
You're interested in human relationships in all their forms.
You've always wondered what it would be like to be in a relationship with a dutch coal-miner called Burtrum.
Avoid This Game If:
You prefer games with a tight design and strategy rather than an almost entirely player-driven experience.
You don't like to have to actually play a role.
You want a game that involves more varied mechanics than simple decision-making.
TechRaptor reviewed Fog of Love with a copy provided by the designer.