First Contact

First Contact is a weird Codenames-like game, which features Aliens communicating with Humans. Unlike Codenames, where spymasters simply give clues according to a concept, aliens have to give clues using alien symbols which the humans had previously taken turns to try to learn.

The game is a thought-provoking commentary on the ambiguity and difficulties of learning and communicating in a different language, but it’s a bit of a hot mess. Whether you are playing as an alien or a human, you’re never really sure whether you successfully communicated or understood the concept, or whether you’re just completely out in left field. Generally, it seems to work out though – but the game can feel random, uncontrolled, frustrating, and even depressing when there is miscommunication. And there’s a good deal of that.

The thing is, feelings of ambiguity, uncertainty, distrust, and confusion are there by design. It’s a very fascinating “simulation” and an excellent proof of concept – but, as far as enjoyment goes, I might still prefer the simplicity of Codenames.

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