Go Extinct!, produced by STEAM Galaxy Studios, takes the classic game of Go Fish and adds an evolutionary twist- rather than collecting suits of cards, players compete to obtain clades of animals that share a common ancestor. Gameplay revolves around the evolutionary tree showcased on the game board, grouping animals by color to indicate how they are linked back to a common ancestor, culminating in the Miacid, the common ancestor of species ranging from Pandas to Sea Lions. Gameplay feels familiar to any player of Go Fish; participants can ask another player for either a general color or a specific species, with a successful guess on the later earning the player a chance to ask again. If the guesser strikes out, then, well, Go Extinct!
The simplistic gameplay works to the games advantage, as it is easy to understand and most incoming players will already have a good feel for the flow of the game. While initially there was some confusion among our group regarding the color choices, with the contrast between the light and dark versions of the blue, pink, and green clades appearing quite similar at a first glance, we quickly got the hang of it, and despite the straightforward gameplay strategies quickly begin to emerge, as each player tried to avoid revealing what they held while carefully listening to what is said in order to seek out desired cards. Especially towards the end things got quite competitive, with the highly-sought after locations of the last few cards being intently discussed.
While the game does not have a listed age limit, it seems from the graphics and layout that our collegiate group of playtesters may have been slightly above the intended age, but this did nothing to detract from the game’s enjoyment, and I can personally vouch that I actually ended up learning a fair bit about how such disparate animals were related, which at the end of the day is the heart of Go Extinct!. At its core the game is designed to be used in an educational setting, a fact reinforced by an attached handbook that goes more in depth regarding the species listed, and is the sense where the game succeeds the most, for while the gameplay is certainly enjoyable, on it’s own it does not distinguish the game. If used by a teacher in an educational environment, however, the game stands out as a fun and engaging way to further a discussion about evolution. From personal experience I can attest to the numerous attempts by science teachers throughout my education to make the subject matter interesting, often with varied results. The nature of Go Extinct!, however, makes it both quite easy to incorporate into a lesson plan and actually quite enjoyable, providing a basic introduction to the nature of taxonomy and phylogenetic trees in a highly entertaining format. In addition, while Go Extinct! chooses to follow the mammalian descendants of the Miacid, the game could be easily adapted to touch upon other taxonomic orders as well.
To review, even though we may have played the game slightly outside of its intended environment, Go Extinct! offers a simple but enjoyable experience that, to be honest, can get way more competitive then you might expect. And hey, hopefully you might end up learning something too.
Check out the Kickstarter link here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stardustscience/go-extinct-stardust-edition-an-evolutionary-tree-game?fbclid=IwAR0eM4iqEvVLm-WtSFXF2LSJc-rT2Ki3RQ2aHrFjKbPRmgQMDXHoyJ77Ako