Ghastly Games with Daphne Strasert: Haunted Hunt

In a world where monsters constantly fight for their lives against hunters, one name stands out: Otto. You (a shapeshifter) wake to find yourself locked in his house as entertainment for his guests. To escape with your life you must gather objects, find clues, and solve puzzles to make your way through the house.

Haunted Hunt is a puzzle game app from Haiku Games and is available for free.

Game Play

Each chapter of Haunted Hunt presents you with a room (or series of rooms) with a locked escape. Hidden throughout the rooms are objects and clues that you can use to escape. Collect objects by tapping on them, then use those objects on other things in the room to find additional keys or puzzles.

Each chapter has one or more complex puzzle that must be solved before you can escape to the next chapter. The game doesn’t allow you to use up objects in ways that don’t help you, so trial and error is allowed while investigating. All the clues you need to escape are there. If you become stuck, you can use stars (which can be earned or purchased) to get further clues.

Game Experience

Haunted Hunt plays very much like an escape room. There are often multiple clues to multiple puzzles hidden and part of the fun in figuring out which clues belong with which puzzle. I don’t find collecting objects horribly fun (lots of tapping all over the screen in the hopes that something is clickable), but I understand why it is part of the gameplay.

I like puzzles. I really, really do. However, I found some of the puzzles to be unsatisfying to solve. There should be tricks and twists in a good puzzle game. However, in Haunted Hunt, some puzzle solutions seemed so far removed from the clues given that it was almost guesswork (I spent many frustrating hints on those).

The best part of Haunted Hunt is the thematic elements. The art is outstanding. The storyline is engaging. The creators included many elements of monster lore throughout that are fun for fanatics like myself. There’s something really fun about getting to destroy a monster hunter at the end of the game.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed Haunted Hunt, but if you struggle (like I did) with parts, don’t feel too bad. The game seems designed to leave you feeling stupid.

If you like monsters and romance, but don’t care for puzzle elements, check out my review of Enchanted in the Moonlight, a monster dating sim.

Do you have a game you want me to review? Something you think I would like? Leave suggestions in the comments!

 

Ghastly Games with Daphne Strasert: Mysterium

Introduction

There’s been a murder at Warwick Manor and only one witness can help investigators find the culprit. Unfortunately, that witness is a ghost. A special team of psychic investigators must interpret visions the ghost gives them to solve the mystery before the murderer gets away.

Mysterium is a cooperative murder mystery game for 2-7 players and takes about 45 minutes to play.

Game Play

Players form a team of investigators trying to solve a murder. The goal of the game is to find the perpetrator, location, and murder weapon.

One player has the role of The Ghost. They know which suspects the players must find. They have a deck of Vision Cards that they use to guide the other players.

In each round, the Ghost gives each psychic detective player one or more cards that the player uses to determine which suspect to guess. After each psychic has made a guess about the suspect, the ghost reveals if they were correct. Once a psychic finds their suspect, they then move on to guessing the location, then the weapon used in the murder.

The psychics only have seven rounds to find their group of suspects, locations, and weapons. If they do that successfully, the ghost gives one final set of clues that lead to the ultimate perpetrator.

MysteriumGame Experience

There are two different experiences of play: that of the ghost and that of the investigators.

As the ghost, you have the fun of guiding the other players, but also the responsibility if your clues lead them down the wrong path. Since Mysterium is a cooperative game, you become the most important person to the success of the team.

As an investigator, you are responsible for deciding where the clues point. The ghost can only provide you with an abstract picture clue, they can’t tell you what pieces of that picture apply. The fun for you is to draw commonalities between the clues and see where they lead.

Your game play with Mysterium is only as good as the people you play with. The first few games can be a real struggle as you try to understand how the people you play with think. But it is a lot of fun to discuss with others and play to the way they think.

Mysterium is a visually stunning game. The Gothic theme runs throughout. The art of the clues is magnificent. There are so many details in the cards to keep you interested in the game for many games of play. Each game changes based into the clues and the people playing.

Final Thoughts

If you loved Clue as a child, Mysterium is a great game for you. There isn’t the certainty of Clue, but you don’t have to worry about the monotony either. The hints are more subject to interpretation and knowing the people you play with is essential.

I really like Mysterium for the ability to replay over and over without having the same situation appear twice. I enjoy playing the part of The Ghost, but it’s fun to rotate that responsibility. I highly recommend playing this and think it will make a good inclusion to any game collection.

Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: Gloom

Game Review: Gloom

The sky is gray, the tea is cold, and a new tragedy lies around every corner…

The distinguished characters of Gloom do not have happy fates awaiting them—not if you have anything to say about it. You control what happens to them through the course of the game, building tales of woe for your unfortunate family. Your objective is simple (and grim): make your characters as miserable as possible before killing them off one by one.

Gloom is a thematic game for 2-4 players. It takes about an hour to play.

Game Play

Gloom offers four nefarious families to torture. Will you play with Darius Dark and his ill-conceived circus of misfits? Or the rich, but malevolent Hemlock family? How about the undead results of Professor Helena Slogar’s experiments? Or the extended kin of the Blackwater Matriarch, who proves you can’t choose your family, but you can choose which of them survive?

Beware, you’ll probably get a little attached to your family as you ruin their lives. In my experience, players develop an affinity for a certain family, sometimes continuing their stories from previous games.

Once you’ve chosen your victims, you’re ready to start their tales of woe. In your hand are several types of cards. Some contain horrific incidents that will make your characters miserable. Some contain happy moments that you can use to lift the spirits of other player’s families. Other portend the ultimate calamity to befall a character of your choice. Choose wisely and time your characters’ deaths to bring you the most advantage.

The game ends with the demise of one entire family. That family doesn’t necessarily win, though. One supremely horrible life can outweigh five mildly grim ones. Whichever player has the most miserable score for their dead characters takes home the macabre victory.

Game Experience

The cards in Gloom are the real stars. Each features delightful callbacks to Edward Gorey style grim humor with cute alliterations that makes torturing your family delightful (“Widowed at the Wedding” or “Mauled by a Manatee”, anyone?).

The cards are clear, so the values of preceding play can still be seen. The clear cards make for more complex gameplay, since all new moves build off former ones. It requires some strategy to maximize misery. Because the cards are plastic, though, there are problems with them sliding off each other (shuffling is not great).

The cards create a great base for weaving together the tales of woe that befall the families. Gloom is a storytelling game and piecing together the miserable lives and deaths of the characters is as much a part of the game as killing them off. However, I found that the story takes a back seat to strategy and is usually summed up by what can be found on the cards. If you’re looking for more creative outlets, there are better options.

Final Thoughts

Gloom is a fun, easy game to play, once you get the concept. Most first-time players struggle with the idea that they want to murder their loved ones, but once they get over that hurdle, they take to the game with glee.

While the premise is simple (bad actions take away happiness points and good actions give them), there are a few different types of “happiness” and the cards interact with each other to change those. First time players should pay attention to what you’re doing. It can get complicated.

My favorite parts of the game are the art, the snippets of writing on the cards, and the characters, which build a macabre tapestry. Overall, Gloom is fun and casual, a little like playing a part in the Addams family.