Review: New Edition of Twilight: 2000 Brings Bleak WWIII Action to a New Generation
Free League Publishing has recently become one of my favorite sources for tabletop role-playing games, and games like MÖRK BORG and Alien: The Roleplaying Game becoming favorites at my Sunday tabletop sessions. I couldn’t help but think of both of these games as I did my first read through of the Referee’s and Player’s manuals for Twilight: 2000. On my interpretation, it takes the bleak apocalyptic feel of MÖRK BORG and marries it with the Colonial Marines from Alien: The Roleplaying Game to create an alternate history year 2000 where the Cold War went hot, and everything fell apart.
Twilight: 2000 is technically the 4th edition of a long running tabletop role-playing game. It takes place in an alternate year 2000 where the Soviet Union never fell, and a full shooting war broke out that crippled NATO and Soviet forces stranding US soldiers in Europe, specifically Poland or Sweden—the two main campaign settings. Players have the choice to play as soldiers or locals in a sand box game where survival is priority, and the chance to return home a distant dream. But the enemy isn’t as black and white anymore—American forces can potentially prey on each other, and Soviet Soldiers you meet might not all be hostile on sight, wishing to end the hostilities so they too can go home.
While Twilight: 2000 is a game that takes place during a war, it isn’t really a war game. There is the potential for pitched conflict, but Twilight: 2000 is about being in a situation that is too large and out of hand for your players (or you as a player) to change drastically—so survival and small unit tactics are the main priority.
Playing in a World War III that’s gone wrong is an interesting setting, full of gray areas to exploit as Game Master (or “Referee” as Twilight: 2000 calls it.) Civilians might need help, or they could be laying a trap. You might meet up with other American forces only to discover that they wholesale slaughter civilians—do you stay, stop them, or slip away quietly? There are plenty of hard choices for players to make, especially when resources are running low and times are desperate.
Twilight: 2000 is close to the original, but there have been tweaks made to modernize it both in lore and game mechanics. Twilight: 2000 takes the story frame work from the original, a bit of the lore has been tweaked to account for real world events. There is also some work that has been done to the game’s mechanics, streamlining them, and removing some of the crunchiness. The rules remind me of Alien: The Roleplaying Game, especially with its stress tracks, and the need to make an empathy roll to finish off a soldier, among other similarities. If you have old Twilight: 2000 material you’d like to use with the modern game, the Referee’s manual has a conversion chart to make it easier.
While you won’t be getting magic swords and armor in Twilight: 2000, gear is just as exciting and valuable. Functioning weapons, and especially ammunition to fire from those weapons, can be hard to come by. Trade is done through barter, or using ammunition as currency. Vehicles exist, but require maintenance, and the larger and louder the vehicle (like tanks) the more attention you’ll bring to your group.
If you’re getting tired of fantasy role-playing games, or just want to change up your tabletop sessions in other ways, Twilight: 2000 has a pretty unique setting that has a compelling set of mechanics that really sell you on the bleak reality of all-out war gone wrong for all sides. Who will you be? The soldier who wants to get back the States (if they even still exist) or the local who wants to become a local warlord? It’s hard not be inspired the potential of a campaign in Twilight: 2000.
Twilight: 2000 is out today from Free League Publishing.
A copy of the game was provided to us for this review.