Friday, September 24, 2021

Game Review: Alone Among the Stars

Cover, Alone Among the Stars, 
©2019 Takuma Okada
: Takuma Okada
Publisher: Self-published 
Engine: Custom d3/ card table-based game

I wanted to do a quick review of Alone Among the Stars by Takuma Okada When I came across this game, it was marketed as a science fiction solo rpg. And has a one-on-one variant called Together Among the Stars but I thought my wife might enjoy as a casual play option.

I also was impressed with some of Takuma Okada's ideas expressed on Twitter. 

I think this one is worth looking into as an example of the most extremely stripped-down expression of the solo role-playing game.

Alone Among the Stars uses a d6 (really a d3) roll, plus a drawn card to represent what your character discovers as they travel from planet to planet on a lonely exploration mission. The d6 determines the method of discovery, the suit it's nature, and the value of the card a detail.

Players are encouraged to write journals from the perspective of their character about their discoveries.

The manual, four pages long including , essentially includes the tables, an introduction on how to Play. It also comes with a sample of play, a document twice as long as they manual, with an example of journal entries inspired by play.

What I Loved


This game is beautifully laid out, easy to learn, and the possible scenarios it presents are open enough that you can play as long as you like without repetition simply by taking a different suggestion in the category.

Growth points

It Isn't a Role-Playing Game.

Despite what it says on the label, this isn't a role-playing game. It offers no challenge, no puzzles to solve, no dangers to overcome, no way of expressing a character. I don't even think the scenarios offer enough information to create a scenario. 

I could see using this as a random generator for Space Opera, but as a Space Opera game, it just isn't sufficient for me.When I purchase a role-playing game, I expect a game where there are fail States, tension, conflict, and risk.

Is one playing a role, if one makes no decisions for their character? 

That's not to say that it isn't without a certain charm. The idea of seeing what wondrous thing your space explorer discovers next has an appeal.

At best, I would describe this as a self-contained item as an exercise in imaginative journaling or creative writing. Certainly, since it has come out, I've seen people discussing the concept of journaling games. And, I believe this would fit neatly in that category and appeal to the audience that seems interested in them.

I did start writing a journal based on this game, but after a few cards drawn, I started wanting to tell a story that this game couldn't create for me. And so I discarded Alone Among the Stars to focus on pure creative writing for the product. 


What did this game of appeal to you or not as a matter of taste. If you're looking for a table of random discoveries, or if you are looking for a journaling exercise, you can't go too wrong with it. If you're looking for a game with some challenges where you have to work for your discoveries, it isn't likely to appeal.

Playing alone among the Stars taught me a great deal about what I expect from solo role play. Risk is part of the appeal to me. I need my characters to be in a certain amount of danger, and at risk of failure.  Without those, there's no way for me to get the reward I seek from a role-playing game, which is, I've discovered, the sense that I have overcome an obstacle.

Perhaps that is the key. Before you select a solo game, it helps to know what kind of experience you are looking for.

A lot of people who have rated this game positively speak of the intense feelings it inspires. Perhaps my unsentimental nature has caused me to miss something in my playthrough. 

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