I've never written a review for DriveThru before, despite having spent what must be £1000s over the years. I felt I had to write something for the new edition of Aberrant .... Aberrant was one of my favourite games of all time when it first came out, for its era it was amazingly presented, had a fully realised world but went beyond a normal four-colour setting ... it asked you the question, if you gained abilities that made you more than human, what would you do? Superheroes existed but they were the arm of a multi-national organisation and were as much (if not more) about garnering good publicity and enhancing the public's opinion of that organisation as they were about doing good. There were supercriminals but they worked for crime syndicates and were motivated by money and didn't sit in secret hideout laughing maniacally while they plotted to take over the world ... well, there's Divis Mal I suppose, but that's another story ...
The presence of Homo Sapiens Novus, these incredible creatures, transformed the world, as you would believe they would. The structure behind the setting owed more to Watchmen than Avengers and therefore made more sense. It may be that I'm getting old ... I was incredibly fortunate that the first graphic novels I read way back when were Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman Year 1 and Return of the Dark Night ... all of which arose out of the desire to look, as Hollis Mason said, under the hood ... to see why people would don a strange costume or do outlandish things and to look at how beings that could change the world would change ... the World.
Aberrant's first edition asked all those questions and also asked how mankind, shivering in the shadow of creatures powerful beyond comprehension, who looked human but ultimately couldn't be human, would react. How would Homo Sapiens deal with the first threat to their primacy in millions of years ... the answer in the first edition was plausible, chilling and dark and it defined the core drama of the game and gave a solid mystery for the players to unravel, a shocking hidden truth for them to unearth. On a personal level the heroes had to fear their own transformation and being forced away from humanity as the manipulation of quantum itself transformed their body and mind into something other than human ...
So, the 2nd edition. I've only just got it and I haven't read it cover to cover so this review may be utter twaddle, skim reading may have played me false but ... on first impression ... the setting in its broad strokes is still well developed, the system is (arguably) an improvement on the previous edition ... it's more streamlined and it's still well-presented (although a bit too four-colour for me) but what it lacks is what made the previous edition so great, it lacks the darkness that sat at its core, it lacks the moral ambiguity that was engrained in the first edition, where you were faced with opponents (not exactly villians) who's motivations were understandable, even if they led to unacceptable action. The current iteration isn't terrible by any means, it just seems to be a much more standard four-colour superhero setting, there are still morally ambiguous elements and, off-stage but way off-stage, their is the coming apocalypse that helps define the setting but it has abandoned the dark moral conflict that the previous edition had in favour of high action and adventure.
Come back Chiraben, all is forgiven!
[3 of 5 Stars!]