I have my parents to thank for exposing me to origami at a very young age. I think they got me into it originally to improve my manual dexterity, but something about the simple acts of folding paper into animals and geometric shapes spoke to me back then, as it still does now. I must have folded the shapes in the four Hello Kitty origami books (which I still have) more times than I can remember. Today, one of my favorite party tricks is to fold a Starburst wrapper into a crane. Find me at a gaming convention, give me some Starbursts, and I’ll fold one up for you!
Needless to say, I was excited to get my hands on Folded Wishes, which promises to evoke the spirit of origami in board game form. Let’s start folding!
The goal of Folded Wishes is to be the first to have all four of your origami animals lined up on the tile grid. On a player’s turn, they place their tile (and animal) adjacent to the row or column they wish to add it to, then activate the powers on that tile. The tile then gets slid into the grid, with all tiles shifting down, and the tile that is pushed out at the end of the line becoming the player’s tile for the subsequent turn. Players can check to see if their animals are arranged in patterns on the grid that correspond to bonus cards, which can be claimed and used for their powers during a player’s turn.
The powers on tiles and cards provide players with the ability to change the arrangement of the grid by moving their animals, their opponents’ animals, swapping animal positions, or swapping tiles. By creating combos between the various powers on the tiles and on the bonus cards, players can get their animals into the proper alignment in order to achieve victory.
Folded Wishes does not break any new ground, but it does provide a decent experience for those looking for an abstract game to their table. The tile sliding mechanic is a neat one, forcing players to think not only of this turn’s actions and results but what powers they want to employ in the following turn. Folded Wishes provides players that satisfying moment of seeing the path to victory unfold by seeing the combination of powers and moves they can employ. There is also some fun in trying to match the patterns in order to earn bonus powers. It is simple enough that it can be explained in a few minutes and plays quickly enough that a single playthrough will not get stale.
Unfortunately, the ease and alacrity with which Folded Wishes plays is also its downfall as the game is remarkably forgettable. After a few playthroughs, experimenting with the various powers and strategies became tedious and repetitive. While it does have some depth and brain-burn, there’s just not enough in the box to give players a satisfying experience over multiple sessions.
One of the joys of origami is the ability to take a flat sheet of paper and turn it into a creation with depth and dimension. It would have been great if Folded Wishes did anything at all to evoke that sort of feeling in rules, mechanics, or gameplay. We could not get our heads around the idea of how pushing the tiles and putting our animals into rows had anything at all to do with folding paper. We love plenty of games with themes pasted on effectively, but this is a bad example of how to do it.
Folded Wishes wants to evoke the idea of origami, but even in the rules terminology, its devotion to the theme is lacking. Why you would call one power a mountain fold and not have another power called a valley fold makes literally no sense, let alone why we don’t see any other powers named for the wide variety of folds in the origami world. Just another example of how there is a wide disconnect between theme and mechanics.
Another issue we faced was with the production of the game in terms of the iconography and rules. In our copy of Folded Wishes, there were continuity issues between the icons on the player cards and in the rulebook, and some of the player cards had stickers over icons that were not shown anywhere else. We are certainly able to make the corrections ourselves, but to have a production with this type of glaring error in it is simply inexcusable.
Folded Wishes feels like an origami sheet torn in half. One one side is a quick-playing, easily accessible game, and on the other is a complex engine builder and tile-slider. You can fold something from a sheet torn in two, but it might not make the prettiest creation, as it is with Folded Wishes.
Final Score: 2.5 Stars – This may fold up nicely for your gaming group, but we left it crumpled up.
• Lack of replay value.
• Awful disconnect between theme and mechanics.
• Production issues in iconography need major overhaul.