In 2018, Awaken Realms' Nemesis was a huge hit on Kickstarter, becoming the publisher's highest-grossing crowdfunding campaign at over £3m. To this day, Nemesis is very popular with many players and scores with a rating of 8.3 on BoardGameGeek. Nemesis has also often been on our table. No wonder, then, that the Polish publisher wants to build on this success and bring a new spin-off called Nemesis: Lockdown into the hands of the players. To what extent the new standalone expansion can build on the fun of its predecessor, you can find out in the following review.

Like its predecessor, Nemesis: Lockdown is a semi-cooperative game in which 1-5 players have to fight to survive and complete one of two tasks. You have to be on your guard at all times against the extraterrestrial Xenos and your fellow players. These can have evil targets that can harm the team. As a result, the predecessor created a special tension, since you never knew who you could trust or not.

A preliminary note on our pictures: The retail version was reviewed. However, the door thumbnails are not present in this version. Instead, the retail version comes with high-quality door displays with feet. A friend brought the door miniatures from the Kickstarter campaign to our test game, where we took the photos. In addition, the figures were all pre-primed and partially painted.

Exploring a Mars station

In Nemesis: Lockdown we leave the spaceship and explore a Mars station, which is being attacked by so-called night stalkers, a special form of the Xenos from the predecessor. On this are station employees and prisoners who suddenly have to work together in order to somehow survive the chaos that has suddenly ensued. While the staff faces the threat of the Xenos for the first time, the prisoners have survived it all before as the crew of the starship Nemesis. This makes it all the more important for all people on the Mars station to work together, because while the employees have weapons, the survivors already have important prior knowledge in the fight against the night stalkers.

As an employee of the Mars Station, the Guard starts with a powerful weapon that he can use to defend himself against the Nightstalkers. Captives, like the Survivor or the Lab Rat, start without a weapon but possess valuable knowledge of the aliens' weaknesses.

As an employee of the Mars Station, the Guard starts with a powerful weapon that he can use to defend himself against the Nightstalkers. Captives, like the Survivor or the Lab Rat, start without a weapon but possess valuable knowledge of the aliens' weaknesses. Image: Sven Karsten

But Nemesis: Lockdown is also a semi-cooperative dungeon crawler. This means that each individual player must complete one of their two goals and survive in order to win the game. There are three ways to survive: by locking yourself in the Mars Station's isolation room, by using a cargo shipping pod to escape the station, or by reaching the bunker outside the facility.

However, this is not easy, because depending on which goal the opponent chooses, it can also become threatening for one or the other of his fellow players. Targets can also be evil and have the task of destroying the Mars station (which means that gamers would no longer survive in the isolation room) or that certain gamers are not allowed to survive the game. This makes it difficult to work together, as you can never fully trust your fellow players. Every individual could be up to something evil and implement it at any time.

Almost everything the same

Nemesis: Lockdown plays mostly the same as its predecessor, but with a few new twists. To reach our own goal, we move through the Mars station and uncover rooms as usual. When discovering a room, an exploration tile is turned over, which indicates whether the room has a malfunction, is on fire, or whether you made too much noise when entering the room. In addition, the tile indicates how often this room can be searched for helpful items. Searching the rooms is much more important in Nemesis: Lockdown than in its predecessor, especially for the prisoners, since they start without weapons and must therefore first find objects in order to be able to defend themselves against the extraterrestrial threat. Each room also has a room action that can be performed if the room is functional, i.e. not malfunctioning or on fire. Through these, the game's characters can activate various Mars Station functions, heal themselves, and more.

Players who played the predecessor can easily find their way into Nemesis: Lockdown. Nice innovation: The damage of the night stalker is no longer counted via dice, but via turntables. Thus there is less chaos on the game board.

Players who played the predecessor will find a familiar environment. Nice innovation: The damage of the night stalker is no longer counted via dice, but via turntables. Thus there is less chaos on the game board. Image: Sven Karsten

Whenever we move into the next room, we have to perform a noise check. To do this, we roll a noise die that shows in which of the adjacent corridors we are making noise. A noise marker is then placed in this space. As soon as there are two noise markers in a corridor, a night stalker appears in the room where the active player is and attacks him. With a careful movement you can avoid the threat of the second noise token, since here the corridor in which the noise token is placed is not decided by chance. However, this action also costs us more. However, once a player is in a room, other players can also move into that room without making noise.

Interesting innovations

In contrast to the original, the rooms in Nemesis: Lockdown are spread over three floors or sections. Each section has its own power supply, which can be either active or inactive. An active power supply in a section means that the entire floor is lit and an additional room action, the computer actions, can be used. On the other hand, with an inactive power supply, the entire floor is dark and therefore more dangerous for us, since we then play at a disadvantage against the night stalkers who lurk in the darkness. As the game progresses, the power goes out faster or slower in the sections, depending on whether we have activated the power in the emergency generator room or not. As a result, we have to constantly keep an eye on the flow and, at best, maintain it.

With the new computer actions we can usually get important information about the current situation of the Mars station or knowledge about the night stalkers in functional rooms with an active power supply and a computer symbol. The more knowledge we have about the night stalkers, the more weaknesses we can use against them. Besides the computer actions, we can get knowledge through the analysis of objects in the laboratory or the analysis tool, the discovery of the nest or through the room action of the archive.

Since we're in a Mars station instead of a spaceship in Nemesis: Lockdown, another innovation in the game is the way we can escape the threat of the Nightstalkers. As described above, there are three ways we can survive. While the isolation room is the counterpart to the cryochambers from the predecessor, the escape pods have been replaced by the cargo shipping system (FVS system for short) and a third escape option has been added in the form of the bunker.

New escape routes

The FVS system consists of three cargo pods that only launch at specific times. The points in time are indicated by FVS markers under the game's round or timeline. The randomly arranged markers determine which of the three cargo pods starts in the respective round. It can happen that, for example, none of the capsules or only one starts. If a player sits in a capsule that does not start, he will receive a serious wound and will find himself on the space station. This can have a big impact on the character's survival, as they can have a maximum of three serious wounds. If they get a minor wound afterwards, it's game over for them.

The FVS system replaces its predecessor's escape pods. The Mars Rover drives the players to the new third escape option - the bunker.

The FVS system replaces its predecessor's escape pods. These are activated at certain times on the round track. The Mars rover drives the players to the new third escape option - the bunker. Photo: Sven Karsten

With the bunker, Nemesis: Lockdown offers a completely new escape option. This opens as soon as the first character dies, the main gate key is used, or self-destruct has been activated and cannot be undone. Since the bunker is located outside of the facility and therefore the Martian surface must be entered, there are special requirements to reach it. Either a protective suit must be available in the personal inventory or the Mars rover must be used, which, however, only offers space for one person. Once the Mars rover has been used, it stands in front of the bunker and can only be brought back with the help of a computer action.

the end of the game

The end of a game is initiated as soon as the round marker reaches the last space of the round track, the alarm or self-destruct has been activated and the corresponding tile is exceeded by the round marker, the last fire or malfunction marker is placed in the rooms of the facility or the last one Character dies or flees from Mars Station. Another innovation, the containment protocol, is then executed.

The containment protocols are the result of how the company that runs the Mars Station is handling the characters and the overall situation. Since the Containment Protocol is chosen randomly and can have a major impact on the end of the game, it is of great interest to all players to find out which Containment Protocol is lying facedown next to the turn track. For example, at the end of a game, these can lead to all survivors in the isolation room dying and much more. Each player has an inactive containment protocol and knows its function. To find out which one is currently active in the process of elimination, computer or room actions can be used to control other containment protocols.

The six different containment protocols that can be triggered at the end of a game. At best, through a process of elimination, we should find out which one is currently active.

The six different containment protocols that can be triggered at the end of a game. At best, we should use a process of elimination to find out which one is currently active. Image: Sven Karsten

Otherwise it remains the same as the predecessor. The contamination maps are then checked. If one is infected, you must reshuffle all of your cards. You then draw four cards. If any of the four cards is a contamination card, the character dies. If you have survived up to this point, the goals of the characters are checked. The players who are still alive and have reached their goal win the game.

semi-cooperative ugh,

The predecessor Nemesis impresses with its dense atmosphere and the great threat of the Xenos. You really felt like you were part of a crew on a spaceship that had to work together to get the spaceship back to earth intact. Of course, some members of the crew went crazy with the chaos and also did bad things to finally put an end to the whole thing. However, implementing bad goals was a little harder than implementing good goals. This was also due to the fact that the players could not harm each other directly. That was great! The feeling of the unknown threat was very high and you never knew who you could really trust.

Unfortunately, in Nemesis: Lockdown this atmosphere is lost. The Nightstalkers feel significantly more menacing than the Xenos and can kill gamers in just a few turns. Especially the prisoners who start without weapons are completely at the mercy of the aliens at the beginning. For example, in two different games within the first round, a Nightstalker appeared and inflicted two serious wounds on a player. Both ends of the game hardly had a chance to survive the game. Although the game encourages you to play more cooperatively with each other, it also makes it much easier to kill your opponents. The combination meant that in our test games, the first players died very quickly, sometimes even in the first or second round.

While in the predecessor the first end of the game could take over the Xenos after the death of his character, in Nemesis: Lockdown he can only sit apathetically next to it.

While in the predecessor the first end of the game could take over the Xenos after the death of his character, in Nemesis: Lockdown he can only sit apathetically next to it. Image: Sven Karsten

In the predecessor, game endings who died could take over the Xenos. This was a nice idea to keep the people who died first in the game. Despite the more ruthless Nightstalkers, that idea didn't make it's way into Nemesis: Lockdown. We cannot understand this at all. All in all, Nemesis: Lockdown does not create a feeling of tension before the unknown threat, but only frustration for all players. In a game that can last up to three hours, if the first player dies within the first hour and then can only sit around, something is very wrong. You might think we were just unlucky. However, it simply cannot and must not be the case that this picture is repeated game after game.

cooperative hui!

In return, the cooperative part of the game was convincing. With the Nightstalker menace now fully united, with common goals to accomplish, and no character seeking the life of another, Nemesis: Lockdown realizes its true potential. Despite the lack of the semi-cooperative component, the cooperative part created significantly more atmosphere. The heavy threat posed by the Nightstalker made it difficult for us to achieve all our goals in our playtest. We barely managed to do this, as three out of five players sacrificed themselves to the night stalkers and the way was free for the other two players. So the game was always exciting.

The night stalkers are constantly breathing down our necks and pose a major threat.

The night stalkers are constantly breathing down our necks and pose a great threat. Photo: Sven Karsten

This is where Nemesis: Lockdown works just perfectly. We plan our moves together, reveal our options and try to make the best of the situation. Another advantage of the cooperative part is that a dead character of a fellow player can be revived in the first aid station. In addition, when a character dies, the player doesn't have to sit by apathetically. Because we all have to achieve our goals together, he can continue to actively participate in all discussions and planning and thus advance our mission.

Due to the innovations that the game brings with it, the cooperative part of Nemesis: Lockdown works much better than that of its predecessor. The power, the containment protocols, the computer actions... all add more tactical components to the game for co-survival.

High quality game material

To mention it briefly. The game material is simply great, even in the retail version. Everything feels good in the hands and makes a high-quality impression. That's what we're used to from Awaken Realms titles. All figures have an immensely high level of detail, which is why I immediately felt like painting the figures. Only the malfunction markers could be of better quality. But this is complaining on a very high level.

About Nemesis: Lockdown

Number of players: 1 to 5
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 90 - 180 minutes
Difficulty: difficult
Long-term motivation: high
Classification: expert game

Author Adam Kwapinski
Illustrations: Jakub Dzikowski, Piotr Foksowicz, Patryk Jędraszek, Ewa Labak, Piotr Orleański, and Michael Peitsch
Publisher: Asmodee, Awaken Realms
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2022
Language: German
Cost: around 150 – 200 euros


Over the course of a semi-cooperative game of Nemesis: Lockdown, things happen that shouldn't happen in any game, especially one played over such a long period of time. Too quickly it happens that you are completely randomly punished and lose your life after a short time. Then you can only sit and watch for the rest of the long game. Nemesis: Lockdown is frustrating across the board and doesn't create a satisfying gameplay experience. At the end of a game you're just glad to have finished the game. However, we find the complete opposite in the cooperative mode. Here comes the feeling and the fun that we had so often with the original. The game remains exciting throughout and you support each other as best you can. Here all players can enjoy the full three hours together and do not have to end their evening prematurely.

If you're a fan of the original and liked the semi-cooperative aspect of the game, we think you should skip Nemesis: Lockdown and stick with the predecessor. However, if you are looking for a successful co-op adventure in the Nemesis universe, you can definitely be happy with Nemesis: Lockdown, because the innovations work here and bring one or the other special trick into play.

Due to the fact that Nemesis: Lockdown can be combined with the original characters, we will be releasing another small review of Nemesis: Lockdown in the coming weeks to find out how well the game plays with the original characters.

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Last updated on 8.03.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API