Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: Elder Sign

Game Review: Elder Sign

The artifacts in the museum are more than they seem. The collection is opening barriers between our world and other dimensions where an ancient evil lurks, waiting to cross over.

Elder Sign uses the universe of H.P. Lovecraft to create a brilliant atmosphere of supernatural suspense and adventure. Players form a team of investigators trying to prevent an Ancient One from crossing into our world. They do this by collecting Elder Signs and defeating smaller monsters throughout the museum. Players can gain items and powers that aid in this and work together toward success. Failure brings the Ancient One closer to unleashing its wrath on humanity.

Elder Sign is a cooperative dice game for 1-8 players and takes about 90 minutes to play.

Game Play

Before play starts, the players choose an Ancient One to battle in the coming game. Each has a different power that makes gameplay more interesting. Some are more difficult to defeat than others. Players also choose characters. These also have special abilities that give them an advantage in certain encounters.

Throughout the game, characters attempt tasks to succeed in Adventures and gain rewards. Some of these rewards are Elder Signs, which are used to seal away the Ancient One before it can cross over into our world. But beware, failure has dire consequences and can bring the monster even closer.

All the while, time ticks forward, bringing the Ancient One closer to our world. Strange events happen every midnight that make gameplay harder. If players fail to seal the Ancient One, they must fight it in a nearly impossible, last-ditch battle for humanity.

Game Experience

Elder Sign is beautiful. The art is in a lovely dark fantasy style that is perfect for the Lovecraft mythos that it represents. Symbols use are straightforward and easily identified, which is a benefit in complicated gameplay. Each Adventure card has a snippet of a story on it, giving insight into the perilous world of the museum. Reading these bits was an enchanting part of the game.

Despite appearing extremely complicated, Elder Sign is actually straightforward. There is some work in learning the game mechanics, but once you have a handle on that, play runs smoothly. I recommend taking the time to familiarize yourself with the manual before starting and allocate extra time for your first playthrough. Once you have the hang of it, though, you will be able to play many more times.

A benefit of Elder Sign is that the game is actually winnable. Some cooperative games (like Dead Men Tell No Tales, which we also reviewed here at Horror Addicts) are nearly impossible to defeat. Players can succeed in Elder Sign, provided they put thought and strategy into their gameplay and have reasonable luck with dice. It isn’t a guaranteed win, by any means, but players can expect a reasonable return for their effort.

Final Thoughts

What I liked best about Elder Sign (and I liked a lot of things about Elder Sign) was how re-playable it was. There are a variety of Ancient Ones to fight against, but even without that, the different adventures, characters, and items change gameplay significantly. Each game experience is unique. This is a game that I would consider well worth the money to add to my own collection.

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Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: T.I.M.E. Stories

Game Review: T.I.M.E. Stories

Something awful is happening at the asylum. Patients disappear and frightening creatures appear on the grounds. You and your team are time travelers sent to investigate the cause of the strange events.

T.I.M.E. Stories sits at the intersection of science fiction and fantasy, but it’s no kids’ game. Violence and horror lurk behind every decision. At the core of the game is a mystery that must be solved in order to win and save yourselves.

T.I.M.E. Stories is a cooperative narrative board game for 2-4 players and takes between two and four hours to play.

Game Play

T.I.M.E. Stories works much like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book (or, more appropriately, for Horror Addicts, the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” books by R.L. Stine).

Players begin by choosing their characters. Each has strengths and weaknesses which will affect how you play the game. Some scenarios call for brute strength while others would benefit from a silver tongue. Be careful, though; you’re inhabiting the body of a lunatic, so there are some quirks and traps in each character’s behavior (some can’t be left alone, some can’t deliver a killing blow in combat).

To play, the team explores rooms, discovers items, and talks to characters. What you do affects what happens immediately in the game—offering more rooms to explore and more information about what is going on—but some effects will last much longer. This all happens on a time crunch and the longer you take, the more likely your team will have to start all over again (you are a time traveler after all).

The team wins when they solve the mystery and successfully

Game Experience

T.I.M.E. Stories is definitely a story game. There are elements of game play (combat and challenges), but for the most part, the team doesn’t “win” or “lose”. Players don’t defeat each other and the game never really beats the players. The fun is in making decisions and discovering the story along the way.

Since the majority of the base game is themed around a 1920’s asylum, the atmosphere is heavily horror related (with monsters, lunatics, and mad doctors). The art reinforces this. It is stunning and gruesome in equal measure, perfect for the story. The mystery itself is soaked in blood.

The game is nominally themed as science fiction, which allows you to expand the game (with other stories in new locations) and to keep playing a game that might otherwise be too hard (by restarting when all players die). However, while playing, you are immersed in the world of the story (the asylum), so, the science fiction elements become jarring when they are reintroduced.

This adds to T.I.M.E. Stories‘ complexity. This game isn’t for people new to board games or the faint of heart. There are a lot of pieces and parts to game play. The board, while beautiful, is not immediately easy to understand. If you wish to play, either find a veteran to explain or take the time to familiarize yourself with the manual.

Final Thoughts

While T.I.M.E. Stories was a fun and interesting game, the truth is, it isn’t a game you can play over and over. Unlike a “Give Yourself Goosebumps”, the story here has a definite path to follow and does not diverge greatly. There is only one major story included and once you’ve figured that out, the game loses its appeal. You already know the twists and ending. Given that most of the fun of the game is in exploring and discovering what is going on, that’s a big disadvantage.

There are seven expansion packs for T.I.M.E. Stories, so you can play some different stories, but from an investment point of view, it isn’t cost effective to buy. If you really want to experience this game (and I do recommend playing), visit a board game café that has T.I.M.E. Stories and its expansions.

Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: Enchanted in the Moonlight

Game Review: Enchanted in the Moonlight

Monsters are big business right now. I mean, they’ve always been the stars of horror, but recently audience sympathy has shifted in favor of what were, traditionally, the villains. Wanting a little monstrous romance is more common than it’s ever been (Academy Award Winner for Best Picture The Shape of Water, anyone?). So, in the world of games, romance and horror, there must be an intersection somewhere for those looking for a little action.

Look no more. Today, I will review Enchanted in the Moonlight, a dating simulator game for iPhone and Android where you become romantically involved with a monster.

Enchanted in the Moonlight draws inspiration from traditional Japanese mythology and includes ayakashi, creatures that are similar to monsters (and will be familiar to fans of anime). You, as the main character, have a special power that is coveted by the ayakashi. As a result, you have your pick of supernatural suitors. Choose a suitor, then sit back and enjoy the story.

Game Play

Dating sims have been huge in Japan for a while, so otakus are probably already familiar with the concept. Only in recent years have they made their way into the mainstream minds of Western consumers.

If you haven’t encountered the concept, dating sims work like an electronic Choose Your Own Adventure, plus romance. You play the sim on your phone by downloading the app. The game follows a story and gives you, as the main character, choices throughout that effect what happens next.

Most games are free, but you must purchase stories in the app to play through more than the first chapter. Once you choose which character to pursue, you can then follow the story, choosing what you do and say along the way and hopefully bring about a happy ending.

Enchanted in the Moonlight offers six possible love interests: a kitsune (fox), tengu (black bird), werewolf, oni (demon), yukibito (snow spirit), and house spirit.

Game Experience

I’m not going to lie, I’m a sucker for storytelling games. And the stories included here were addicting. The supernatural premise adds an element of drama that I really enjoyed. I’ve bought all the different character arcs at this point, none of which are repetitive in the slightest.

That said, your choices as a character don’t really hold that much weight. There are really only a handful of endings waiting for you, so you won’t do much more than deviate the events in a minor way. I found myself sometimes wishing that I could respond in ways that weren’t offered, maybe smacking a little sense into characters that tended toward the misogynistic. If you’re looking for something complex, there are better dating sim options. However, if you’re looking for some mindless fun and romance, this is for you.

The showcase of the games is the art. There are lovely anime-style images used throughout, with special pictures for important parts of the story. Most games let you save these in a special gallery to admire later.

Bottom line: the premise is a little contrived, the prologue is rushed, the main character is kind of a pushover, and the writing isn’t the greatest. BUT, it’s fun. It’s silly and ridiculous and romantic.

Final Thoughts

Dating sims aren’t for everyone, but they can be a fun escape. If you’re looking for a story game you can play in your downtime, this is a great option. If you want something mindless to enjoy, I recommend it wholeheartedly. I mean, I always wanted to date a werewolf.

Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Game Review: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Who doesn’t love pirates? Who doesn’t love undead pirates even more?

In Dead Men Tell No Tales, players take on the characters of a pirate crew and work together to plunder a burning ship, the notorious Skelit’s Revenge. They must defeat the undead crew, find the treasure, and fight the fire to stay alive. Do you have what it takes to survive and win?

Dead Men Tell No Tales is a thematic cooperative board game for 2-5 players and takes about 90 minutes to play.

Game Play

First, choose a character. All characters have different abilities that will help during play (extra speed, fighting power, rum capacity, etc.). Next, board the Skelit’s Revenge and start looking for treasure. You explore the ship, finding new rooms and revealing new obstacles.

Oh, and all the rooms are on fire.

You take damage when exposed to the flames, so as you explore, you’ll need to take time to rest your character—valuable time that could be used fighting the Skelit’s crew. Defeat the crew to find the treasure. Find all the treasure and get it back to your boat to win. Be warned, the fire gets worse and the enemies increase with every turn, so winning won’t be easy.

Game Experience

The game quality is very high. There are many pieces, but each is crafted with either hardy cardboard or wood. All character pieces are exquisitely decorated with detailed fantasy art that fits with the theme. The well-made setup makes the game a physical joy to play.

As far as gameplay, Dead Men Tell No Tales is complicated. There are a lot of things happening at once and it will take a few tries to really get a handle on what strategies work. I have never actually won a game of Dead Men Tell No Tales (and we’ve been playing on easy mode). There is a lot going on; between character powers, monster moves, a raging fire, and explosions, you can lose track of what danger is most immediately threatening.

There are many ways to lose, but only one way to win. There’s some serious strategy involved in playing and I cannot emphasize enough that the game is cooperative. You are working together as a team so—depending on who you choose to play with—you may not feel as if you’re making any of your own decisions at all.

As much as I emphasize the difficulty, the game is fun. I promise. Dead Men Tell No Tales is all about moves, finding the best thing to do from a long list of possibilities. But it isn’t just pure strategy either—luck is just another skill in a pirate’s arsenal.

Final Thoughts

Dead Men Tell No Tales is a good game for those who like a challenge and have experience playing complicated games. There are a lot of moving pieces. This isn’t Chutes and Ladders; no one wins for just showing up. You’ll want your wits about you (so, not a great game for drinking) and every move has potentially dire consequences (so, not a great game for children). If you really think you have what it takes to take on the challenge, look no further.

Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Game Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Introduction

Someone in the village is a werewolf and the townspeople are determined to find out who. Players all have roles and special abilities that will help them determine who is guilty. But, not everyone is going to tell you the truth. Who’s mistaken, who’s lying, and who is the werewolf?

Welcome to One Night Ultimate Werewolf.

Game Play

The concept for One Night Ultimate Werewolf  is simple. There are two teams: the werewolves and the villagers. The villagers win if they kill at least one werewolf. The werewolves win if they all survive.

It is when we reach beyond that that everything gets more complicated.

Every player draws a character from the deck. One Night Ultimate Werewolf has a lot of possible characters. Some are werewolves, some are villagers, and some have special abilities (looking at cards, trading cards, mimicking the powers of others, etc.). After characters are drawn, everyone closes their eyes players take turns performing their action. Beware, some of these actions might change your character card, so you may not end the game as the same person you started as. When player actions are done, the real fun starts. Everyone opens their eyes and players argue over what happened. Ultimately, each player must decide who they want to “kill” in the round.

In the end, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is all about lying. Players want to keep what they know secret until the information will most benefit them. No one can be trusted, and in some cases, you may not even know that you are a werewolf until all cards are flipped at the end.

Game Experience

The best part of One Night Ultimate Werewolf is how fast gameplay is. Each round is played separately. Even if a player is killed, they still participate in the next round. Characters are re-dealt and the game starts fresh. This means that the game can end whenever you want it to.

The game setup is very simple, with a set of plainly illustrated cards and tokens. The art is charming, with a dark comic style that suits the game theme. All cards and pieces are sturdy and can stand up to some wear, which is good for a fast game where players constantly move pieces.

For a game that is—at its heart—extremely simple, learning to play One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a challenge. If you can find a veteran player, do it. They’ll let you know what information you need to know up front and what you can find out as you go along. Otherwise, you’ll spend an hour at the beginning trying to figure out detailed rules that aren’t important.

Luckily, the creators of the game have made a free app to guide players through the game. I highly recommend downloading the app. It has an easy to use interface and a narrator who leads you through the round. The narrator has a wonderful, soothing voice that I could listen to for hours. It’s an enjoyable experience from start to finish and the app reduces the complexity of the game tremendously.

Final Thoughts

I had this game for a long time before I could convince anyone to play with me. Since the game is similar in concept to the Mafia card game, the friends of mine who were inclined toward more complicated games thought it would be boring. And casual family gamers were intimidated by the number of different rules and worried it would be too complicated. In reality, the game was suited to both groups.

It takes a few rounds to fall into the rhythm of the game. This was the largest obstacle I faced in getting new players to join me. They would play one round and, having not gotten the hang of revealing and concealing information, give the game up for being boring and almost impossible.

However, it is very worth playing. It’s perfect for people who like to run their mouths. I recommend it as an excellent party game.

GOTH: The Game of Horror Trivia Video Review

Hello, Addicts! Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz here with a special Video Review of my awesome Thrift Find Goth: The Game of Horror Trivia!

 

In Addition to Goth: The Game of Horror Trivia, briefly I also mention some Lovecraftian and atmospheric games including Arkham Horror, Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, and The Grimm Forest.

Be sure to check out more of our Game Reviews at Horror Addicts.net, and don’t forget you can get interactive, answer trivia questions, and tell us what kinds of Horror Media you would like to see – by Horror Addicts for Horror Addicts! – on our Facebook Group.

 

 

Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: King of Tokyo

Game Review: King of Tokyo

It’s the mega monster match-up to end all others. Up to six monsters join in one massive fight that will leave the city in ruins. Only one can rule it all. Roll the dice, earn Victory points, and attack your friends to become King of Tokyo.

King of Tokyo is a family game for 2-6 players and takes about a half hour to play.

Game Play

First, choose your monster: Gigazaur, The King, Alienoid, Mekadragon, Cyberbunny, or Kraken (Mekadragon is the best, but you can have your own favorite). Each character has a monster board that tracks the current health and the number of victory points you have earned.

You will want to pay attention to those numbers because there are two ways to win in King of Tokyo:

  • Be the first player to earn 20 Victory Points
  • Be the last monster alive

You gain victory points by rolling matching numbers on the dice, going into or staying inside Tokyo, and through special cards. Attacks from other monsters lower your health and if your health hits zero, you say sayonara and slink back from whence you came.

During play, one monster stands inside Tokyo. While there, every attack they make targets all monsters on the outside. Every attack made by those outside targets them. They can’t heal, but the longer they stay inside, the more victory points they gain. Any time after they are attacked, they can choose to leave Tokyo, throwing their attacker into the city in their place.

King of Tokyo employs dice for the main gameplay. Dice let you attack, heal, earn energy, and gain victory points. Like a game of Monster Yahtzee, you have three rolls to collect what you want and you can reroll as many or as few of the dice as you want.

The game also has bonus cards that you can buy using “energy”. These give your monster extra powers that can boost your gameplay. You earn energy through dice rolls just like everything else, but cards can make all the difference between survival and early death.

Game Experience

King of Tokyo is a fast, fun game. It’s the best game for casual game players that I’ve reviewed so far. The game involves some strategy, but success is mostly left up to luck. In the many times that I’ve played, I have only seen someone win using victory points once. Generally, the game is a battle for survival rather than a race to the top.

My favorite part of the game is the design. The art has a comic book style that suits the theme and pays homage to countless monster movies. Each of the characters is an off-brand monster (Not quite Godzilla, but you know what they’re going for). Over time, players develop attachments to the various characters, so you’ll probably have your own too.

The only drawback that I have for gameplay is that players who die are out for the rest of the game. While that’s how life works sometimes, it isn’t helpful when you want to keep everyone engaged in play.

Even though there is little actual decision making in the game, it often ends in shouting as players try to convince each other to attack or not, risk it all, and possibly knock themselves out of the game. It’s a good time.

Final Thoughts

King of Tokyo is easy to learn and the pay off during play is worthwhile. It would be a good game to play when children are around. I recommend it for anyone who loves (or maybe just casually likes) games.