I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Keyforge book The Qubit Zirconium by M. Darusha Wehm, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.
So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.
I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.
What is Keyforge
The Crucible is a giant word larger than the sun, an artificial planet that is constantly under construction by the the Architects.
They gather their materials by transporting them from other planets and worlds, often bringing that worlds inhabitants along for the ride.
The world contains every environment imaginable, from bustling urban sprawls, to deserts, to jungles, to meadows and everything in between.
The Architects communicate through the ethereal Archons who themselves are completely in the dark about the purpose behind the Crucible.
And so they gather bands of followers, to gather Æmber, a psychic substance that can be forged into keys that unlock the vaults if they architects.
Keyforge itself is a unique deck card game, developed by Richard Garfield, the developer best know for Magic: The Gathering and King of Tokyo.
It’s a really good game, you should go check it out, but I am not reviewing the game here, but I will soon.
The story sees alien detectives, Wibble and Pplimz, a team consisting of a floating fish and a snappy dressed cyborg, look to clear the name of a former client who has been accused of theft.
The case quickly gets complicated, and the pair find themselves embroiled in a race to find a missing gem that potentially has the capability of utilising the power of the architects and endanger everyone on the Crucible.
The story starts off slow as the detectives, who very much have an odd couple vibe going on, with Wibble being a thrill seeking extrovert and Pplimz being a lot more formal and cautious, travel to a crashed Star Alliance ship to do some basic PI work, and they are doing it more out of boredom than anything else, knowing the client is unlikely to be able to pay them.
The story gradually begins to pick up steam as the pair find a lot of dead ends, which have the advantage of introducing us to more aspects of the Keyforge setting, and soon they find out the item their client is accused of stealing could potentially have the power to destroy the Crucible.
The book picks up pace as they travel to other parts of the Crucible desperate to find the Qubit Zirconium, and whilst it lacks any real action, or overt danger, there is a bit of tension as they conduct the investigation.
The book is ponderous, and that’s not necessarily a bad, thing. I think its set out to give a good introducing to the setting, to really explore the world, and to show us the craziness of life on the Crucible.
I really enjoyed the characters, there were some obvious tropes being introduced, the Star Alliance are a thinly veiled Federation after all, and the Martians are the very picture of the little green men we joke about, but again, the card game is very much about taking obvious tropes and twisting them ever so slightly.
I very much enjoyed the story, but the conclusion did fall a bit flat, it just kinda played out and it didn’t really feel that interesting, it just happened, and the urgency of the situation sort of just fizzed out.
A big thing I like was the normalisation of characters introducing their pronouns, something you rarely see, but I can imagine would be vital somewhere like the Crucible, and there was also an acknowledgment that non-binary people exist, and indeed Pplimz is non-binary themselves.
I do want to see more work around this pair, but I would hope the end is a bit more interesting, as I said, it works, but there is little to make you feel any sense of urgency in those closing chapters.
I am gonna give this book 3 out of 5 stars, I would have given it a 4, but then ending just didn’t excite me anywhere near the way the rest of the book did.
The eBook is released on the 13th April and the paperback hits the shelves on 24th June.
- Mood:- Down
- Caffeinated Beverages Consumed:- 2
- In My Ears:- Oh, Mr Darcy – The Doubleclicks
- Tabletop Game Last Played:- Alhambra: Roll & Write
- Video Game Last Played:- Star Wars: Squadrons
- Book Last Read:- Poison River – Josh Reynolds
- Movie/TV Show Last Viewed:- Deep Space Nine
- Current State of Projects:- Necron Crypteks armour painted and washed