By Louis Sylvester
Halloween is right around the corner and that means it is an ideal time to play a game filled with dreadful monsters and thrilling challenges. While there are a number of great horror-themed games available, there’s an excellent, newly released board game that pits clever players against the classic Universal monsters — Dracula, the Invisible Man, the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy, as well as Frankenstein and his Bride.
Horrified (1-5 players, 60 min, Age: 10+) is a cooperative game where players assume the roles of villagers striving to defend their town from the threat of two, three, or even four terrible creatures. Only by working together can players hope to defeat the monsters and free the town before the innocent townsfolk are overwhelmed.
The game is simple enough. First, players lay out the game board which features a beautiful depiction of the town under siege. Then item tiles are drawn out of a bag and distributed to their indicated location around the board. These tiles depict various goods — such as garlic, a pitchfork, or a pistol — that players will gather to help them overcome the monsters. Then players pick a character to play from a set of seven villagers, each with singular powers. Finally, the group decides on which monsters they will face.
For an easy game (which I recommend for your first play), players should pick only two monsters to terrorize the town. The standard challenge uses three monsters and if players want to face off against nearly impossible odds, they can try to take on four monsters at once.
Each turn, a player will gather items, escort frightened villagers to safety, and work to foil the monsters, but once their action points are spent, it is the monster’s turn to wreak havoc by hounding players and devouring villagers. Players will need to work together and make clever plans, because if the creatures manage to injure or kill enough people, they will overrun the town and all players lose the game.
What makes Horrified so special is the thematic way each monster behaves in the game. Dracula will charm his victims, pulling them from across the board to his clutches. The Invisible Man sneaks around town stealing your much needed items. The Wolfman marks a victims’ scent and chases that player relentlessly. Just as each monster attacks differently, each monster requires that players complete a particular set of steps in order to prevail. You must smash all of Dracula’s coffins before facing him. Frankenstein and the Bride must be shown their humanity so that they can be together. The Creature from the Black Lagoon requires players take a boat to his lair before they can defeat him. Because each monster is unique, each game of Horrified promises a novel experience.
If you are a fan of the classic Universal monsters and want to work together with your friends and family to overcome a challenge, then face your fears and try Horrified, a terrifying treat for this Halloween season.
Sylvester is an associate professor in the creative writing program at Lewis-Clark State College. He is the co-author of “Legends of the Lost Causes” series, a rip-roaring adventure set in the fantasy West. You can send him your questions about tabletop games at firstname.lastname@example.org.