Life is full of choices, experiences, and emotions. It’s up to you to turn all of those into lasting memories. As you walk through life in Inner Compass you will earn enlightenment points to help you on your way to find your very own inner compass – what truly makes you happy in life. Good luck, and remember to live life to the fullest, appreciating every emotion and memory along the way!
What Is It?
An abstract strategy game where players collect emotion cards as they move around a shared life board. Players will turn in sets of the emotion cards to imprint lasting memories and earn enlightenment points. The more memories they create, the better, because it will allow them to place their value tokens on the quality tiles available, which will help them earn more enlightenment points at the end of the game. The most enlightened player at the end wins!
Who Is It For?
This would probably appeal to fans of abstract strategy games because it provides a lot of options turn to turn, a lot to try and work with. Additionally, fans of set collection would probably enjoy that since that’s a core mechanic here.
I think ages 14+ would be the best age to start with this one. It’s not super difficult gameplay, but it probably wouldn’t be very interesting to younger audiences.
Quality + Components
Tiles/Boards – The life boards, player boards, and scoring tiles (these are called Quality Tiles) are all nice, solid quality. The symbology on the Quality Tiles is clear, but there’s also a handy reference in the rule book. I do have a misprint and have 2 copies of 1 of them, and am missing one, but I’m not sure if that’s an issue across all copies. The only other issue I had was that black and blue squares on the Life boards are super close in color and hard to distinguish, in my opinion.
Cards – Average quality cards. I like the illustrations a lot. Again, the black and blue are hard to distinguish from a distance, but you can usually tell if you just pick them up, or if you look at the illustrations for what emotion is being portrayed.
Cardboard Point Tokens – Average quality, numbers are clearly printed. They’re all the same size, so it’s easy to keep them hidden which is nice.
Wooden Pieces – The player pieces and emotion tokens are all wooden pieces, nice quality. The player colors definitely were not my favorite, they just weren’t appealing to me. The emotion tokens are clearly printed, and easily distinguishable colors.
Advanced Mode – This was the only variant in the game. If you flip over the player boards there are 3 rewards, one for each row, and players can earn extra points, piece movement, or use cards as wilds, each time they place one of their cubes. It didn’t add a lot more difficulty to the game, but did add a new layer of strategy for maybe trying to get more points or get onto squares where opponent pieces were, so it was kind of neat!
- Variability in Quality Tiles to change up the game’s scoring and thus the strategy as well
- Illustrations on the cards and player boards are very nice, and really embody the emotions they’re of
- Player reference on the standard board is nice/handy
- Plays very smoothly
- A lot of room for varying strategy, with the ability to react to what others are doing and recover well; I think it’s neat that there are 5 scoring objectives available and players can take completely different routes and then score completely differently because of it. I think it’s the one thing that plays to that “life” theme because everyone’s life and paths are different!
- Balance for player order – later players start with more cards and pick starting spots first
- Pretty easy to pick up on
- The colors were a big con for me, from the boring player colors to the similarities to the blue and black on the boards and cards, it just detracted from the game since it was less appealing than I think it could have been
- Advanced side of the player boards lose the turn reference; I felt like this could have been a separate card/tile just to keep it handy
- Discount for emotions on the bottom of the Situation Track (spend 1 less card) is hard to remember at first – could have been a note on the red line
- The theme sounds super interesting, but doesn’t really shine through and ends up feeling kind of tacked on. You just move, pick up cards, and discard sets to place cubes. I wish the mechanics would have tied to the theme more
- On the advanced side of the player boards , the EP bonuses are different than the chart in the rule book. We weren’t sure which was right, so we stuck with the one on the board because it was an easier reference for everyone
When I first heard about this game at PAXU 2019, the theme sounded like and reminded me of Inside Out, which is one of my favorite movies, so I was really excited for it. While I was disappointed that the theme didn’t really mesh well with the mechanics for me, I still enjoyed playing it!
I thought that it played really smoothly, and I enjoyed the strategy making in it. It reminded me of Santorini in that I had to carefully plan my moves and piece placement to outwit my opponents (although you don’t have to “build” every turn like you do in that game, but you get the idea).
Overall, I thought it was just kind of a relaxing, abstract game. It was a nice experience that I would definitely recommend to anyone who likes this kind of strategy game, as long as you can overlook the few misprints that I mentioned, haha.
My Final Ratings:
Overall Game: 7/10
Designers – Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen
Artists – Stephanie Gustafsson, Jeremy Nguyen
Publisher – Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)
MSRP – $39.99 – Available April 2020!
*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*
If you like what I do, consider Supporting Me.