Designer: Prospero Hall
Price: $34.97 Amazon.com
Horrified is a cooperative game based on the classic Universal Studios Monsters. Players must work together to defend the town from the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It is a enjoyable game with great thematic integration.
It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing and the weather is cooling down. (At least, I’m sure it is somewhere. Here in Arizona, we have neither leaves nor cool weather, so what do I know?)
Anyway, as Arizona’s sad excuse for autumn sets in, so does my desire to watch classic horror movies. With Halloween on the horizon, I love kicking back and enjoying atmospheric, black-and-white thrillers. Thanks to Horrified, I can now enjoy them at the game table, as well!
In Horrified, players take on the roles of brave heroes struggling against the forces of darkness. At the start of the game, they select 2-4 monsters to use, and each player receives a character with a special ability.
Monsters all behave differently, and each has their own “minigame” objectives that players must complete in order to defeat them.
On a player’s turn, she begins by taking a number of actions, as designated on her character card. Possible actions include:
- Move along a lighted path to an adjacent space (taking any number of villager characters along)
- Move a villager from the player’s current space into an adjacent space, or vice versa
- Pick up any number of items in the hero’s location
- Share items with other heroes in the same location
- Take the special action described on the player’s character card
- Spend items to advance a monster’s task objective
- Defeat a monster (once its task has been completed)
As an example:
The yellow player gets 4 actions on his turn. He might begin by moving the villager Maleva into his space (Action #1), picking up the items in his space (Action #2), moving with Maleva to the Abbey (Action #3), and picking up the item there (Action #4).
After the current player has resolved his actions, he flips the top card of the monster deck. This card will add item tokens to the board, give a special instruction if a certain monster is in play, and activate a number of monsters to move and attack, if possible.
The card above adds 2 items to the board, per the number at the top. It also has a special instruction for the Wolf Man; if he is in the game, the text is resolved. Next, players activate the monsters whose icons are shown at the bottom of the card – in this case the Creature, then Dracula, then whichever monster is “frenzied” (per the flame icon). The frenzied monster will change throughout the game, and it makes it possible for a monster to activate twice in a row (for example, if Dracula were frenzied, he would activate for his own icon, and then again for the frenzied icon). Monsters who are not in the game are ignored, obviously.
When a monster activates, it moves toward a character, if it is not already in the same space as one. If an active monster shares a space with a character, it attacks by rolling dice. The 3 possible die results are miss (blank), hit (blast icon), or special (exclamation; this triggers the monsters unique power).
If a monster hits a character, the character dies immediately, and the track at the top of the board is advanced. If this track reaches the end, or if a monster card is needed but the deck is empty, the players immediately lose. If they manage to defeat all the monsters by completing their individual objectives, they win.
Horrified is one of my favorite games of 2019. A rich theme can elevate a game from good to great, and this game is a perfect example of that. Though not very innovative from a gameplay perspective, its theme comes through so strongly that it provides a rich experience. Each of the monsters feels very different, and their asymmetry fits their individual movie lore perfectly.
Horrified encourages groupthink as players strategize how to collect the items they need, protect the villagers (and each other), and ultimately slay the monsters.
It is critical for them to coordinate their turn-by-turn decisions as they try to stay a step ahead of the baddies.
The game’s production is very nice, particularly the monster figures. The contrast of the warmly-lighted paths on the dark board creates a pleasantly spooky effect. Additionally, the back of the board bears a delightful faux-movie-bumper which talks about the horrors that await the players within the box. Campy? Sure. But fitting? Perfectly so.
Especially with Halloween approaching, I highly recommend checking out Horrified. Despite its theme, it is actually quite family-friendly in tone (again, with a fun, spooky vibe). It has great replay value, since players can mix and match the monsters, and it also allows them to modulate the difficulty as desired.
All in all, I really liked this one. It is definitely worth picking up. Just be sure to keep garlic close at hand.
A review copy was provided by Ravensburger.
The Bottom Line
Horrified is excellent. One of my favorites of 2019.