If I started another blog, it would be about film. I have been a cinephile my whole life. I grew up on It’s a Wonderful Life, musicals, Charlie Chaplin, Star Wars, and smaller independent productions like The Bear & Duel (Spielberg’s first). Then, when I was a little older, I remember when Blockbuster would have the summer deal where you could rent as much as you wanted with just a small monthly fee and I fell in love with 70s cinema like Dirty Harry, The French Connection, Dog Day Afternoon, and THX 1138. I also developed a love for horror as I continued to branch out. Classic horror is nearly synonymous with Universal Studios’ iconic monsters. It won’t be long until films like Dracula, The Wolf Man, and Frankenstein are a century old, but their staying-power is a testament to how their archetypes & legendary themes still resonate so expressly today.
Horrified is a game from Ravensburger, designed by Prospero Hall, that is inspired by these classic Universal monsters. The movies are characterized by great atmosphere, very memorable characters, and excellent musical scores, so it was important to capture the strong themes in this game, and I think it succeeds.
In Horrified, you play townsfolk who must defeat monsters that are roaming the nearby streets & locations. It is a cooperative experience, so everyone will either win or lose together. The 7 monsters that you may encounter are:
- Bride of Frankenstein
- Wolf Man
- The Mummy
- The Invisible Man
- Creature from the Black Lagoon
Each monster behaves differently and must be defeated in a unique way. The objective and tasks that must be completed are laid out on the well-designed monster boards. Items will appear throughout the town and they are the most important commodity. They not only help you defend against monster attacks, but they are the main way to advance toward each monster’s objectives. Villagers will also appear throughout the game, and if you band together and guide them to their destinations, they will reward you with Perk cards, which can provide very valuable abilities at crucial moments in the game.
Your turn consists of an action phase, then a monster phase. The amount of actions you can take are listed on your player token. Some players also have a special ability. The actions are:
- Guide (Moving Villagers)
- Pick Up (Picking up items)
- Advance (Performing monster’s task)
- Special Ability
After you perform all your actions, the monsters take the stage. Turn over the monster card and follow its instructions. The monster card shows a few things. First, it shows a certain number of items that will be drawn from the bag and placed on the board. Next, there will be an event. If the event does not pertain to a monster in your current game, just disregard. But if it does, it can swing the game in the monsters’ favor in unexpected ways.
Lastly, the monsters move & attack. If a monster’s symbol is on the bottom of the card, they move the specified number of spaces and attack with the number of dice shown if they land in a character’s space. If you cannot or don’t wish to discard enough items to defend, then you are momentarily defeated and must restart at the hospital. If a Villager is attacked then they are unable to defend and are automatically defeated.
What is the big deal about being defeated after all? Well, there’s this little thing at the top of the board called the Terror Track. Each time a hero or a Villager gets defeated, the Terror Track increases by 1. If it ever hits 7, everyone loses. Also, if the Monster Deck is depleted, you also lose (this effectively means you’ve run out of time). There’s only 1 way to win though: defeat all monsters!
Horrified is the best game I’ve played in awhile. I was already very attracted to the theme, and it delivered on all fronts. The tension is well-balanced, like a strategic tug of war between the heroes & monsters. Each monster feels incredibly different and the events can be game-changers. The rules are simple, so it’s easy to dive right in and smoothly adventure through the game. It also enhances it to roleplay a bit too. In my last game, I was able to defeat Dracula with 2 stakes to the heart, for instance. Then, an event drew Lucy the Villager away from our protection and she was defeated right away. It was fun to imagine why she would have gotten so spooked. We were yelling, “No, Lucy! What are you doing?!”
The components, though nothing too fancy (no metal or wood, etc) are good. But above the actual material, the aesthetic choices & art are excellent I think, and really elevate the experience. I would also recommend playing with a classic creepy soundtrack too.
You should know already if you would like the theme. So if you have any doubts about the gameplay itself, I can confidently recommend it. It has a solid cooperative design akin to something like the popular board game Pandemic, only with the Universal Monster theme. Excellent!