The theme of this game is very thin, but the back of the box says that the only way for you and your friends to survive is to successfully play the game. In my mind, I picture a scene from the movie Saw; me and the other players are trapped inside some run down house and this game is sitting on a card table in the middle of the room. This is, of course, just in my head, but hey, whatever works.
There is very little art in the box. The rules are a 1/3 page with mostly text. The cards look decent, but they are all the same. They kind of have a creepy vibe, which fits with my Saw idea. I'm good with the art that is there and I'm glad the numbers on the cards are easy to see and read as they are important to the game mechanics.
This game uses a deck of cards numbered from 2-99 and 4 discard pile cards; 2 counting up from 1 and 2 counting down from 100. The cards are of decent quality. I would suggest sleeves if you plan to play this much and I'm guessing that after one game, you will plan to play more.
The box is sturdy enough, but the cards will not fit in it once they are sleeved.
The goal of the game is to play all of the cards 2-99 onto the 4 discard piles. However, you must play the cards in descending order on the 100 down cards and in ascending order on the 1 up cards. Simple, right.... And frustrating... And fun... And challenging...
You can not share specific information about the cards in your hand with other players. You can offer general info.
Each player gets a hand of cards (hand size varies depending on the number of players). Players collectively decide who should go first, then play moves clockwise around the table. On your turn, you must play 2 cards from your hand, but can play more than that if you want, then draw back up to your starting hand size. This gets challenging when you start the game with only cards from the middle (30-70).
The one thing that keeps this from being impossible is that you can play a card that is exactly 10 higher/lower than the top card on that card to move the deck back. For example, if the face up card on a 100 down discard pile is 54 and I have 64 in my hand, I can play it even though it is a higher card. If I also have a 74 I can jump the pile back 20 numbers. Not likely, but possible.
Solo Game Play
This game works for 1-5 players. I've played it both solo and multi-player. The rules are the same for solo as for multi-player except, in the solo game you get 8 cards in your hand. My best score solo so far is 23 cards left. Not very good. We got a score of 7 in a 4 player game. The rules say ending with only 10 cards left to play is a great score.
I was kind of surprised by this game. I found it to be extremely enjoyable. I want to play it again... Right now... While I'm typing this, I'm wondering why I'm not playing The Game. As I play it, I realize I should have done my last play differently and it stresses me out that it might mean someone's life (maybe my own) because I made a mistake. (not really, of course)
It doesn't look like much and the theme is pretty light. My imagination helps, but if you don't add that element, then there isn't much theme there. In the end it is a very abstract, puzzle game. I like abstract and puzzle, so good for me, but not everyone falls into that category.
I still think it is a fun game that people will like. I would suggest you try this game out. It plays quickly. It is easy to teach. It is engaging. There isn't much time between players turns and you need to pay attention to what people are playing so you can make good plays and maybe be able to make use of the 10 back rule.