October is the month where we celebrate all kinds of monsters. Be they vampires, werewolves, mummies, mer-creatures, lumbering, stitched together flesh golems, or invisible people. Perhaps the most iconic versions of these monsters are the versions presented in a series of films from Universal Pictures that ran from the 1920s-1950s. Universal’s versions of Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Monster’s Bride, the Mummy, the Wolfman, the Creature From the Black Lagoon, and the Invisible Man are such epochal monsters that the films they starred in are practically required viewing during the Halloween season. What if I told you though there was a way to create your own Universal Monsters experience that puts you and your friends in a face to face battle with the classic creatures? Are you interested? Then you need to pick up a copy of Ravensberger’s new board game Horrified.
Horrified nails the fun, spooky feel of the classic Universal Monsters. As soon as you open the box you’re greeted with a tongue in cheek warning on the back of the game board about how this game is “not for the faint of heart”. That board unfolds into a map of a village containing all the important locales of a Monster film; a science institute, a barn, a high tech tower for raising the dead, a museum, a church, a dungeon, a crypt, and many more. The streets of the village are haunted by detailed plastic miniatures of each of the game’s antagonists; Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, his Bride, the Mummy, and the Invisible Man. They’re very cool looking minis and if you enjoy painting miniatures, you can make them look even cooler.
The other components included are colorful cardboard counters representing the thematic items you collect, the characters you become, and the villagers you have to protect from the murder hungry monsters. There are also two decks of cards with fun, nostalgic, and thematic illustrations; one that represent “perks” you acquire to help you in your quest and a deck that controls the monsters.
The cooperative and rules light nature of Horrified means it’s the perfect game for people who are new to gaming, but its also fun and immersive enough to please fans with a love of classic horror games like Arkham Horror and Betrayal at the House on the Hill. Essentially, you’re moving around the village collecting thematic items and discarding them to protect yourself from monster attacks or to defeat the creatures.
Each monster has their own easy-to-grasp way to be defeated, and each game involves 2-3 monsters. The players win by defeating all the monsters. They lose in a number of different ways though; the last card is played from the monster deck (which gives the game a time limit that both adds to the fun and makes it more playable) or the terror level of the village gets to high. The terror level rises whenever a monster sends a player to the hospital or kills a villager. It does this on the monster portion of every players’ turn where a card is drawn that introduces some twists and tells you which monsters move and attack that turn. Monsters move towards a villager or player and when they reach them some dice are rolled to determine if an attack or special attack lands.
The villagers are another fun element that adds to the game’s mood and tone. That’s because they include such familiar faces as Renfield and Lucy (1931’s Dracula), Fritz, Maria, Elizabeth (all from 1931’s Frankenstein), Maleva (From 1941’s The Wolf Man and 1943’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man), Dr Reed (Creature from the Black Lagoon 1954), Professor Pearson (The Mummy, 1932), and Dr Cranley (The Invisible Man, 1933). The comedic duo, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, even make an appearance in the game as Wilbur and Chick; their characters from 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
Some of the other atmosphere comes from the unique solutions to defeating the monsters. In order to stop Dracula, you have to travel the village and smash his coffins before confronting the Vampire Lord directly. Want to end the Creature’s rampage? Well you’ll have to guide a boat expedition to its lair. Also, be careful when facing the Mummy or the Wolfman. Because you could become the werewolf’s intended target or the Mummy could come to believe that you’re the reincarnation of his beloved. Another fun element comes from the What if? factor of having 2-3 monsters each game. Want to recreate Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman? You can! Want to see what happens when the village faces the dual assault of the Creature and Dracula? That’s the introductory scenario! And for truly challenging games you can unleash three (four if you’re playing with the monster and his bride since you have to defeat both) different monsters on the village.
Mixing and matching monsters, and the different abilities of the heroes you play means Horrified is very replayable. It can provide entertainment at Halloween parties or be the featured game at a number of different game nights.
Horrified is cooperative game for 1-5 players available now from Ravensberger Games.