The fight for the spotlight in the board game sector is getting tougher and tougher. Launches are piling up in a market saturated with novelties. But in this tremendously competitive ecosystem, one piece of news has prevailed in the highlights of specialized stores and in the prescribing channels for 'gamers' in recent weeks: the long-awaited Spanish edition of Final Girl is here... The tribe of devotees of solo games in our country screams in terror and trembles with pleasure.
"We signed the game almost two years ago; we loved it, but we didn't suspect the incredible reception it is having from the public," says Servando Carballar, director of the publishing house Gen X Games – licensee of the Spanish edition of Final Girl. "We've pretty much sold out the game in pre-orders and we're already working on the re-release. We made a fairly wide print run but, even so, we have fallen short," explains the founder of the Generation X stores – a franchise specializing in pop culture products – to EL MUNDO.
Indeed, the promotional editions of the game - which not only had a special price but (and above all) included exclusive material - flew away as soon as they went on sale. A phenomenon, however, quite predictable given the previous trajectory of the game. Final Girl was born in April 2020 through a crowdfunding campaign on the Kickstarter platform: it achieved its funding goal in less than two hours and, two years later, the so-called 'second season' (in a nod to its cinematic theme) got contributions from more than 12,000 patrons and a collection that exceeded two million dollars.
Preview of the 'third season'. VAN RYDER GAMES
"We took a lot of risks, but luckily they paid off," recalls A. J. Porfirio, co-creator of Final Girl (with Evan Derrick) and president of Van Ryder Games, the publisher responsible for the original edition of the game. "We could never have imagined what a great success it has become," he confesses to EL MUNDO. "It has had a huge impact on our company and the lives of everyone in it," he explains. "We were already on a growth trajectory before, but its success has launched us exponentially," he adds: "Thanks to Final Girl we have expanded staff, resources, capabilities and improved an already successful business."
The mechanics are phenomenal and the gameplay experience is exceptional
On BGG, the industry's most important news website, Final Girl is among the 26 best themed games in history and holds the highest rating among solo titles. In addition to the original in English and now in Spanish, the game has also been published in French, Polish, Chinese... and new editions in other languages are underway. "New locations take time, especially in a game where there are so many different components to produce; a lot of boxes, accessories...", explains Porfirio.
For quite some time now, the board game sector has been experiencing a period of splendour. But within this general wave, the solo gaming niche is experiencing a dynamic of special expansion. A trend that both publishers and creators are paying attention to. "There are many fans who do not have a gaming group and this situation has been promoting the rise of solitary board games," says Carballar, who notes that "the designs of this type of game today are much better than what was presented 10 or 15 years ago."
"There's never been a better time to get into board games and things are only getting better," says Porfirio, who highlights the special potential of the solitaire niche. "The only thing I would ask my fellow editors is that they don't include a solo mode in their games as a mere lure, because not everyone needs that option," says the designer in response to the fact that most of the new 'cooperative' board games - in which players collaborate in search of victory (as opposed to those classified as 'competitive') - define themselves as suitable for single player.
Box set of the stage 'Slaughter at the Fair-Gepetto'. GEN X GAMES
Final Girl, on the other hand, belongs to the segment of games that could be described as 'native solitaire': those created strictly to be played alone. In this particular case, the player takes on the role of the 'final girl' from slasher horror movies... that teenager who is left as the only survivor after all her friends have been massacred, having to face the Freddy Krueger of the day alone. Luck (dice rolls), strategy (selection of cards with different actions) and time management (time trial component) determine the fate of the game.
Final Girl's gameplay is a derivative of Hostage Negotiator -another great hit of A. J. Porfirio's solitaire board games-, but with more advanced developments, including the movement of the characters along a board. "The mechanics are phenomenal and the gameplay experience is exceptional," says Servando Carballar: "It has an easy-to-learn, intuitive system that fits the narrative aspect of slasher movies like a glove." A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre... each of the Final Girl settings pays homage to these spooky horror classics. They are not expressly cited for property rights reasons, but they are perfectly recognizable.
The game is made up of a basic box -with the essential generic elements- and different scenarios, independent, but combinable with each other. In Carballar's opinion, precisely "the great success of the Final Girl system is that you can play different movies with any of the protagonists from other boxes and thus increase the replayability exponentially". Each of the 'final girls' cards has different powers and different personal abilities. "This model is certainly unlike any other board game," Porfirio emphasizes.
The author of the game recalls for EL MUNDO the creative process from which Final Girl emerged and the curious twist that took place in the middle of it: "My partner Evan Derrick and I wanted to develop a solo board game where the player takes the role of the killer from horror movies, but we quickly moved away from this concept to evolve towards the trope of the 'final girl' as the protagonist." A radical change of script – "the retail segment allows the possibility of trying different things", says the author – which possibly turned out to be the great success of the project.
'A Nightmare on Maple Lane'. VAN RYDER GAMES
Another of Final Girl's distinguishing features is its careful visual appearance. The artistic work - reminiscent of vintage - of both the 'final girls' and the villains, as well as the cards, boards and other components is a true hallmark of the game. In addition, the design of the boxes – simulating in size, shape and even opening system that of old VHS films – aims to extend the owner's satisfaction: from the table (where he enjoys it as a game) to the shelf (where it is displayed with collector's pride).
I don't like it when someone puts something down out of ignorance and that often happens with solo board games
A. J. Porfirio
However, solo players are often met with incomprehension from those who believe that the biggest (or only) appeal of board games is spending time with friends. "Playing alone is incredible," says Porfirio. "I don't like it when something is looked down upon as inferior and that often happens with solo board games, usually out of ignorance," he laments. "Someone may have never considered that a board game can be enjoyed alone and scoff at the idea, or they may think that someone who does it isn't 'cool'... To all those who think that way, I challenge: Play Final Girl and see what you think next!"
If board games have long since ceased to be (only) children's things, products like Final Girl are the best proof of this. Due to its theme, this game seems more suitable for nostalgic people of the 80s and 90s than for today's teenagers. In addition, to keep up with all the new developments, a certain purchasing power is needed, more typical of 'nostalgic parents' than of 'thrifty kids'. The complete Final Girl experience includes the acquisition of miniatures carved in resin, premium mats, setting books...
Final Girl is the beginning of a new game in Spain, which also opens doors of access to millions of Spanish speakers from all over the world. "Our idea is to release the second season of the game before the summer of 2024 and of course we are also joining the third season that is now in the development phase in the US," explains the head of Gen X Games, a Spanish company whose distribution reaches countries such as Mexico or Argentina... and proclaims: "There's Final Girl for a while!"
All the components of the 'first season' of 'Final Girl' and its expansions. GEN X GAMES