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Reality Shift: Deluxe Review

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Board Game Review by::
Brian Winters
Price:
$85

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3.5
On Feb 15, 2024
Last modified:Feb 15, 2024

Summary:

Reality Shift: Deluxe is a unique 3D racing game where players try to move their magnetic Light Bikes and hack the Track to their advantage to be the first to reach the finish space.

Reality Shift DeluxeI don’t know about you, but my life seems like I’m in a never-ending race. Be the first to the register, get ahead of that slow driver (they’re all slow drivers), or try to get a cookie before my kids devour them. You’d think since I always feel like I’m racing that I would avoid racing games. WRONG!!! I’m always willing to play a racing game and it’s great if I win but even if I don’t, I always seem to have a blast with this genre.

This brings us to today’s review of the unique 3D racing game from Apollo Games: Reality Shift: Deluxe (there is also a base game just called Reality Shift), where all players can hack the track and change it to try to make the best path to the finish line. Reality Shift: Deluxe is a racing game that plays around 30 minutes and is designed for 2-5 players.

Game Overview:

Reality Shift: Deluxe set-up will vary depending on what game track you use: either a basic 3×3 grid of 9 Cubes or one of the deluxe Tracks using 9 to 12 Cubes. No matter the track the starting and finish Cubes are usually on opposite sides, and each has specific setup rules of which side is face up. Each player selects a color and receives the corresponding Light Bike miniature and matching Reference Card and is dealt 3 Action Cards.

Reality Shift Deluxe Cards
Action Cards come in 5 different colors and will allow players to move or hack & Shift Reality the Track.

The starting player will roll the speed die and if their Light Bike is not on the track place it on any visible green icon on the starting Cube. A player may perform the following actions in any order on their turn:

  • Move with Speed Die: a player must move the number of Track spaces rolled on the Speed Die.
  • Move with Action Card: a player discards an Action Card and moves the full number of Track spaces noted (players may choose not to perform this action).

During movement if a Light Bike’s path is blocked before their movement ends or if it passes through another Light Bike’s space, they crash.

  • Shift Reality: a player discards an Action Card and moves a Cube (Slide, Rotate, Flip, or Tilt) according to the option on the card (players may choose not to perform this action). All Cubes have different color faces, and the action card color must match or be wild (white card or face) for a player to be able to move a Cube.

If a Cube is moved and crushes a Light Bike (or crashes as noted above), it’s removed from the Track and respawns at the start of their turn at either the Starting Cube or a numbered Checkpoint if collected during the race.

At the end of a player’s turn, they will draw back up to 3 Action Cards and then play moves to the next player in clockwise order. The player’s Light Bike who moves onto the Red Finish Cube icon wins the race and the game immediately ends.

Reality Shift Deluxe Gameplay
I prefer the Deluxe Tracks like this one (Bend) and I always use the two-sided Grid Board no matter the Track .

Game Experience:

The rules in Reality Shift are easy to learn and the toughest thing to learn is exactly what the different Shift Reality options mean to the Cube your targeting. Aside from occasionally rule references when moving Cubes, Reality Shift: Deluxe plays quick and is lots of fun. Players should not take it too seriously because every turn the track could change which might ruin your current plan or path to the finish. So, I would advise players just have fun and take to what the other players and Track gives you.

I enjoy racing games and Reality Shift: Deluxe is no different but it’s a rather unique one. The track is made up of cubes so the game has a 3D look, and the Light Bike miniatures are magnetic so they can race up the sides of the Cubes as well. It has a Tron feel to it but it’s more like Tron 2.0 with Light Bikes racing up walls and players can hack the track. Now, the ever-changing track is cool and can be deadly by crushing racers and unlike Tron, Light Bikes will respawn at the starting Cube or a Checkpoint a player might have collected.

Reality Shift Deluxe Cards
Checkpoints can be collected during the race allowing players to spawn there instead of the Starting Cube.

I’m not going to mince words. Get Reality Shift: Deluxe instead of just the base game. It comes with not just more options for game play but better ones. The best add is the 2-sided Grid Board that adds to the table surface of the Track. The base version is only played on the Cubes and it’s limiting and not as much fun. The Deluxe version also includes 3 more Track Cubes, Power-Up Cards for one-time powers, a Battle Mode where players can destroy one another to win, and Power Mode which is a Checkpoint race to win.

I first saw and was able to demo Reality Shift: Deluxe at Gencon in 2022. It was an eye-catching game with an amazing table presence with what seemed like excellent production values. I was somewhat surprised that when I received my review copy that some of the Cube face stickers were peeling off and two were sticking to each other which made unboxing a bit challenging. Based on this issue, I did some research and find out that the initial Kickstarter had similar and some other production issues which is disappointing. So, just warning players to use care when unboxing and maybe their version will not have the issues mine did.

Reality Shift Deluxe Cubes
Light Bikes are magnetic allowing paths to be taken on the sides of Cubes instead just the top.

While Reality Shift is a fun game, players can suffer from bad luck. If players have action cards that cannot shift the track and their path is block, then it can be frustrating at times that you’re going to crash after rolling the Speed Die. The only mitigation strategy really is to try cycling through your Action Cards if able and always try to move some part of the track to ideally help yourself or hinder other players.

As I mentioned above, I demoed Reality Shift: Deluxe previously and the Track was the Great Pyramid which is 19 cubes. It was a blast and one of my BGQ friends purchased a base and Deluxe version. At the time, I thought that was overkill but then realized when I received my review copy that if you want to race on the Super Tracks (16-21 Cubes) listed in the Deluxe rules, then you must have the two copies because that’s the only way to have enough Cubes to build them.

Final Thoughts:

Reality Shift: Deluxe is a fun, light game that is a unique racing game with a constantly changing track. I would suggest getting the Deluxe version since it offers improved game play and has the 2-sided Grid Board which is the best addition in the set.

Now what holds Reality Shift: Deluxe back from scoring higher are some production issues with peeling of Cube stickers, no luck mitigation, and having to purchase the base and deluxe versions to have enough Cubes for the Super Track options.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars – A fun and unique racing game where the 3D track will be hacked by players to help themselves and hinder opponents.

3.5 StarsHits:
• Lots of fun in a light game
• Unique racing game
• Deluxe version

Misses:
• Some production issues
• Not much in the way of luck mitigation
• Need both base and deluxe version for Super Tracks

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