The moment I knew this game had nailed its theme perfectly was in the very last turns. We'd run out of time, the ship should now be on course to Earth and hopefully, the engines repaired enough to propel the ship home. But none of this was on our minds, now all we cared about was getting off the ship. It was too late for us, we couldn't get back into hypersleep in time to survive the journey home, that room now belonged to the aliens. The escape pods were our only option, and we weren't heading there in a calm and orderly manner. At some point the game had turned, one of us had turned, or maybe we'd all turned on each other. If we weren't so far away from home you would swear we were isolated at a snow-covered Alaskan research centre instead of among the stars.
We only had a couple of moves left, the captain and engineer finally reached the hatch for the escape pods, alien-infested corridors on either side. Our Captain then turns to the engineer and for the first time this game plays his unique ability card. He orders the engineer to go into the next room knowing he had no chance of surviving, or enough turns to make it back to the pods even if he did. We all knew what had happened, our captain, our trusted leader was never on our side. The engineer had no choice but to obey his Captain's commands, forced to face certain death while the sound of escape pods launched behind him.
This is the thing about Nemesis, yes it has great miniatures, artwork, and a huge table presence, but it's the way it manages to make it's traitor mechanic feel a natural and viable option for anyone. It's so simple, you each pick two secret objective cards at the start of the game, keeping both in your hand until the first sighting of an alien. When any player first spots one of these drooling Xenos you must then decide which secret objective you each want to keep and which to discard. This is the only time the game forces your objectives upon you, there's no drawing of traitor cards after each round, nothing on the board that forces you into key narrative shifts, it just happens.
Yes, you can all work together to fix the ship and navigate home, that is the main objective that everyone should be working towards. But you're not going to know if the engines were repaired or sabotaged until the end of the game when those tiles get flipped to reveal their condition. The same goes for the final destination, this card is kept face down until the end of the game. So unless you use precious turns to check the inputted coordinates during the game there is always doubt, and thanks to an imposed time limit you will find your team stretched too thin. This game can't help but fill you with paranoia on every turn, yes you must work together to repair the ship and defeat the aliens, but in the back of your mind, you never know what the other player's goals are.
Nothing in the game feels overly complex, your player boards and moves work how you would expect. Using your player boards and cards you can craft items, check your ammo, upgrade your gear, heal yourself or others, most things you would need or want to be able to do you can. All of your moves are governed by your unique hand of cards and you can use these to perform basic actions like moving or shooting or more powerful actions from your special abilities. It's not as deep as deck building but it adds flavour to each of the different classes and pushes the survival aspect giving you a feel of having limited resources and options.
As for the huge game board, every room tile on the is face down until a player enters, then it is flipped revealing the room and number of items inside. The infirmary will let you heal yourself, the armory is full of ammunition, the main deck lets you change the ship's destinations, and the showers let you, well shower, useful for washing off the negative effects of alien slime. There are also a large number of rooms that are randomized each game and the double-sided board helps with the replayability.
Shooting and killing are handled with dice and is kept fast and simple enough that everyone is invested in the outcome of each encounter. This also goes for tracking of enemy health which is tracked using damage tokens allowing players to quickly weigh up their odds for future encounters.
The player miniatures could have been a little better as they don't quite live up to the artwork with some characters lacking key details. The aliens look incredible though and the oversized queen alien appearing on the board is definitely a terrifying event. There are also quite a lot of cards, tokens, and statuses to keep track of, bnhhhutthhgg after a while we found players taking responsibilities managing different aspects which kept everyone invested and kept the game moving. A single player could run this game for everyone without too much hassle though.
My main complaint about the design for the game isnt related to the many mechanics but with the representation of its two female characters. Sure Nemesis uses plenty of tried and tested tropes for both the humans and aliens which can be overlooked, but a pilot with cleavage revealng armor and a scout who's portrayed as being more concerned about siting seductivley, than you know... scouting, feel dissapointing and outdated.
Despite these issues I really enjoy this game, and it has been a hit with our group. It does exactly what you want it to, allowing you to easily play out a sci-fi survival horror without too many complications. However, the stories and twists this game can create, much like those aliens, will sneak up and surprise the hell out of you.