GTM #261 - Wonder Book
by DV Games


Wonder Book, the first interactive pop-up game, is bound to find its way under the Christmas Tree. This cooperative and narrative-driven game has been one of the most acclaimed novelties at Gen Con 2021, and it received enthusiastic comments by gamers and reviewers all over the world.

The stunning pop-up board is filled with eye popping 3D elements which will interact with the miniatures of the characters, making players feel like they’re walking for real through lights and shadows of the wondrous realm of Oniria.

Oniria is a majestic world divided into two kingdoms: the bright Upperworld and the dark Underworld. The Upperworld is a flourishing land, scorched by the sun and populated by the illuminated dragons, who dance free in the sky and breathe magic to live. The Underworld is a tangle of pitch-black subterranean caves, crawling with stealthy, dark creatures. A hostile place for unwary explorers.

But there was a time when Oniria was an idyllic paradise, where dragons lived together in peace. A tumultuous conflict shook the entire realm, and the fate of Oniria and the human world are now colliding.

A dragon was spotted in our world, flying over an old, abandoned tower lost in the woods. It appeared in a flash of supernatural light, then vanished.

Only a few saw the dragon. Most did not believe their eyes. However, a handful of chosen ones did. They are the only ones that are naively curious and brave enough at the same time. But this time the heroes are not the usual warriors and wizards of fantasy, but four smart kids who will face an adventure that is bigger than them.

Tina, Sid, Ken, and Lara saw the dragon and could not believe their eyes.  Was the dragon real? Are there more? Where did it come from?

These four friends go to the same school, and they share a common curiosity and desire to explore as well as a fascination for all things fantasy. They are convinced that the apparition was not just a hallucination, and their excitement cannot be contained: the kids are ready to explore the quiet tower, whose secret has been hidden for centuries, protected by fears and legends.

This secret is the Wonder Book: an antique book, lying in the dust. Its time-worn pages are held in place by a wrinkled leather cover, on which is embedded a gold filigree depicting a glorious tree with branches that look like a monster’s claws. Could the Wonder Book be a portal to the world of Oniria?

How does the story go on? Join this adventure and it will be up to you to decide. Oniria’s destiny is now in your hands!

Now let’s go back to the gaming table, discovering the storyline over six chapters and revealing the astonishing twists of the 3D game board. At the beginning, I encourage you to dump game components on the table and just start playing. The beauty of the Wonder Book is the chapter cards drive the rules, so they are not overly complex. So go ahead and read the first card of chapter 1, following the directions, then turning it over, and following those directions. Rinse and repeat, and a few cards in you’ll magically have the game set up, then you can reference the rulebook as needed.

The basic mechanics are easy to grasp, but the game keeps changing as each scenario offers different things to do. You will find yourself exploring, fighting some weird creatures, solving riddles, playing little minigames, taking important decisions…

While the game is simple enough for young children, it contains a deep strategy that adult gamers will appreciate, creating the perfect family game but also a game you can take to your friends’ game night; the full campaign is long, but you can easily save the game and keep playing another night.

The hidden pop-up tricks of the specially engineered book combined with the branching storyline offer an original and ever-changing game experience. The game has a campaign mode and all the decisions matter on further development of the story.

It also includes a large envelope that looks like a treasure chest. Whatever you do, (DON'T OPEN IT!) Fight the urge. It’s so much better as a surprise.  (HEY YOU!  STOP LOOKING! I TOLD YOU NOT TO OPEN THE TREASURE CHEST!)

There are things hidden all over the Wonder Book, with surprise enemies and surprise events, and hidden landscapes for certain chapters. In addition, there’s an A+ mode for when you finish and want to play through again, this time with more difficulty, and you can even play the same character making different decisions and choosing different upgrades when you level-up. Of course, you can also play again using an entirely different character. And, on top of that, you might discover 6 different endings: this is not a one-shot experience, and you are encouraged to replay the game and try to get a perfect score.

Wonder Book was designed by two young and eclectic talents in the contemporary game design field, Martino Chiacchiera (Deckscape, Witchstone) and Michele Piccolini, and it was illustrated by one of the most popular illustrators in the board games industry, Miguel Coimbra (7 Wonders, Small World).

Moreover, Dario Cestaro is considered one of the most talented paper designers; nowadays he has published around seventy pop-up books and pop-up toys - google his name to discover some amazing works.

There are many surprises in the Wonder Book we don’t wish to spoil, but we can assure you’ll frequently find yourself open-mouthed! (Remember I told you NOT to look in the treasure chest!).

Wonder Book will be available for the holidays at your friendly local game store – join the adventure!