In 1982, Steven Spielberg gave us a family adventure movie about a small alien creature who gets stranded on Earth. After being found by and befriending a young boy, the alien does his best to communicate with his family back home while avoiding being caught by the government agents out to get him. 40 years later, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial gets a brand new board game treatment from Funko Games and designer Prospero Hall, bringing us back to the fun and excitement of the film.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years from Home Game is a 2-4 player cooperative game in which players are trying to get E.T. home. In Light Years from Home, each player takes control of one of the kids and enters the game during the climactic bicycle chase from the end of the movie. The goal of the game is to collect items to build communication devices for E.T. to call the mothership back to earth, all while avoiding government agents and local police. Get the mothership to earth and deliver E.T. to the forest to win!
The game board is divided into 25 zones with 36 movement spaces on the corners. Roads around the board combine some zones into larger spaces and shortcut spaces are scattered around the board, used by the kids to cut diagonally through different areas. During set-up, 21 item tokens are placed on the zones around the board for players to collect. Also added to the board are enemies in the form of agent pieces matching each player color, a special agent called “Keys” who goes after E.T., and three police vehicles (one of which is a straight up station wagon) headed toward the forest. Players are able to move around the board using streets and shortcuts but enemies have to stay on the roads. The police vehicles use special dotted paths as they move closer to the forest space on the other side of the board. Players will choose one of the four characters, each with a special ability that can be used throughout the game. These abilities help move E.T. and other players across the board as well as avoid dangerous situations.
During a turn, players may take up to three general actions which include moving, picking up items or devices, or taking a candy piece and adding it to the combined player supply. On a movement action, players may move up to two spaces using roads and shortcuts. Moving through an agent or police vehicle is known as a dangerous movement and causes players to roll a special red die. Candy pieces, colored coincidentally similar to Reece’s Pieces, are used to move E.T. around the board. All players use candy from a general supply so replenishment is crucial. Items come in three different colors that correspond to three special spaces on the board. Items are used to build devices (special dice) to communicate with E.T. ‘s mothership. Also included in the items are wild tokens and ramps. Ramps can be placed on spaces to give the characters a special boost while moving and wild tokens count as any color when building devices. As with moving, picking up items near enemies is considered dangerous and triggers a roll of the red die.
There are a number of free actions players can take as well. Players have limited item capacity, so dropping items allows players to build up the right supplies to construct a communication device. Players can move E.T. one space per Reese’s..I mean…candy piece discarded. Players can pick up E.T. using the basket on their bikes, taking him around the board, and dropping him off when needed. (Side Note: The small E.T. figurine is awesome!) Having E.T. in your basket lets you use a once per turn special power from a choice of three displayed cards. These powers include healing E.T., moving to any space on the board, and trading with players that are not on your space. One of the coolest features is teaming up with other characters. While players can share the same space and trade, character pieces can also interlock and allow you to move together and even use each other’s special abilities. The last and most important free action is building devices. If four items of the same color are in the matching space, E.T. can build a communication device in the form of colored dice. Players can then pick up a constructed device and deliver it to the forest space to help move the mothership closer to Earth.
After taking their actions, players move into the Phone Home phase. During this phase, players roll any device dice that are located in the forest space. Any phone icons move the mothership one step closer to the finish line. Players can also deliver goods matching a device die to move the ship along faster. Wild icons delivered in this way will move the mothership as many spaces as dice in the clearing, which can add up to some big movements.
The final player turn phase is called Move Enemies. If alone in their space, players must roll the two blue enemy dice. If sharing the space with another player or E.T. they will also roll the red danger die as well. The blue and red dice have a series of icons that move the enemy figures around the board. Badges will move the agent corresponding to the player’s color toward the player. Key icons will move agent Keys toward E.T. and sirens move the police vehicles one space forward on their paths. There are also special faces that move everyone’s agents or a police vehicle of their choice. If a player ends up with an enemy in their space at the end of the turn, then the E.T. heart dial loses one health, the player drops all items, and then gets moved back to the start space. If E.T. is captured, then Keys moves to the space and the heart dial reduces by one.
Players continue taking turns until one of the three endgame conditions is met. Players win if the mothership makes it to the forest clearing and players can successfully move E.T. to the space. Players will lose the game if the E.T. heart dial reaches zero or all three police vehicles reach the end of their tracks surrounding the forest clearing and prevent E.T. from getting to the ship.
The gameplay of Light Years from Home is fantastic. I was not expecting a game with such depth from a 40 year old independent property. The game scales nicely to player counts and abilities. The number of agents on the board matches the number of players and difficulty can be scaled by requiring more or less items to build a communication device. The first group I played with required a couple of run throughs to figure out some of the strategy. We learned the hard way to watch where your agent was on the board and to not end your turn in the path of a police vehicle. The higher player counts added more agents on the board and lengthened the time between turns to get your character out of harm’s way. Cooperative games can be hit or miss, but there was some great tension by balancing smart gameplay and taking risks all while being thrown off track or helped by the roll of the dice.
The production value of Light Years from Home is great as well. The character tokens are sculpted to look like the actors from the movie and the addition of the baskets and interlocking bases are top notch. The miniature E.T. figurine is just awesome and brings back memories of those final scenes from the movie. The cardboard used for the tokens, agent pieces, and candies is thick and feels great in the hand. The artwork from the board, to the tokens, to the rule book brings you right back to the eighties and helps keep the theme flowing throughout. Each of the power cards is also illustrated with artistic renderings from scenes in the movies. The mothership token is also fantastic. Although my copy came broken in the box, with a little bit of glue, the mothership sits above the board and seems to watch what is happening in the neighborhood as it works its way towards a rescue. The only downside on the production side are the player mats and player aid. While the artwork and aesthetic are great, the paper is thin and was already warping a little in the box.
This game hit all the right spots for fans of the movie. The scalability and pick up and deliver mechanic combined with great artwork and components, immerse the players into the movie experience. This game is great for families and core gamers alike. I only wish they would have included a second E.T. figurine that I could carry around on my bike!
Dan is an educator from Colorado. Growing up as an Air Force dependent gained him lots of new perspectives on the world and a love for making new friends, especially over a good board game. When not at school or playing a board game, Dan is probably at the gym, attending a local sporting event, or performing or attending theater. Dan loves heavy euros, deck builders, living card games, and great solo rules.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home Game
E.T. The ExtraTerrestrial: Light Years from Home game is a great cooperative adventure that puts straight into the action trying to get E.T. home. With some fun complexity and scalability, this game is perfect for fans wanting a nostalgic family adventure.