Family Game Review: Horrified

It’s Family Game Review time again! This is where my kids and I play a game that none of us have played before, then we each independently write something about it. Along with me, you’ll hear the thoughts of Connor (22), and Rhiannon (14). This week, we played Horrified by Ravensburger.

Horrified box cover
This is the box. It already looks good, eh?

Scott

Horrified is a cooperative game in which the players must gather items from around town in order to defeat classic movie monsters such as The Wolfman, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Dracula, while also guiding villagers to their safe locations before they are killed by the monsters. And boy, did we have fun with this one!

Each player chooses a Hero to play. The Heroes each have a special ability that they can use as an Action during their turn, which can be quite helpful when used strategically. I got to be purple, which amused Rhiannon, because the purple Hero was The Professor, an old man. I always want to play purple, and Rhiannon always assigns me the old man character if there is one. 

Horrified Set up
All set up and ready to save the town from monsters!

In order to defeat the monsters, the players have to perform a series of tasks, depending on the monster. (Each monster has a tracking card that tells you what you need to do.) For example, in our first game, we were up against Dracula and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. To defeat Dracula, we needed to advance the monster track by going to the locations on the board where his four coffins were and destroy them by playing red items with a power totaling at least 6. Then we go to the space on the board where he is, and beat him up.

On their turn, players can perform Actions (most characters have 4). The Actions available are Move, Pick up Items, Guide a Villager (move a villager adjacent to the Hero), Trade Items with another Hero, and Do the Thing that Advances the Monster Track. Characters can also play a Perk Card during anyone’s Hero Phase in order to give the active player some boost or advantage, such as giving them extra actions or moving a monster.

Dracula and Creature team up
The archaeologist is pretty popular with the monsters as they team up to give him a beating.

After they have completed their Actions, the player begins their Monster Phase by drawing a Monster Card. The card states how many items are added to the board from the bag, then explains an event (which only applies if it references a monster who is on the board), and then tells which monsters are activated. Activated monsters move the number of spaces indicated on the card toward the nearest Hero or villager. If they enter a space with either of them in it, the attack, using the number of dice indicated on the card. Heroes and villagers cannot defeat the monster when they are attacked, only survive, or not. The dice have three sides with a star icon, meaning the monster has scored a hit. There is one side with an exclamation mark, meaning the monster’s special ability is triggered, and two blank sides. For each hit scored, the Hero can choose to discard an item to ignore the hit. If they have no items left, or choose not to discard items, they are sent to the Hospital space, where they will start their next turn. Villagers have no items, so they are removed automatically if they suffer a hit. Start next turn in the hospital? That doesn’t sound like there’s much consequence. But wait! Every time a Hero or villager is defeated, the token on the Terror Track is moved up one, and when it reaches the seventh spot, the Heroes lose! 

In our game, it seems we were facing supermonsters, since the number of stars rolled was incredible. Several times, triple stars were rolled on three dice, and nary an attack went by that didn’t result in two hits.

Creature behind detective
Why are you all…? It’s right behind me isn’t it?

Items are very important, since not only do they function as your Hero’s health and resistance to monster attacks, but they are needed to advance the Monster Tracks and defeat the monsters once the Monster Track was completed. There are three colours of item, the red ones being physical items, the yellow spiritual items, and the blue intellectual items. The items start at specific locations when drawn from the bag, and have a power value. Some tasks require different colours of item be used to advance the Monster Track, regardless of their power, and some require that the items used total a specific power value. For example, to break one of Dracula’s coffins, 6+ points of red item needed to be used. And that’s how I deftly destroyed a coffin with a bear trap (power 4) and a shovel (power 2).

At the camp
Hey creature! We’re in the camp, advancing your monster track!

Despite being slapped around by monsters, we did manage to win the game, but with only 2 Monster Cards left in the deck (you also lose if you haven’t won by the time all of the Monster Cards have been drawn). Having squeaked out a win in the basic easy, novice-level introductory scenario, and having had a lot of fun, we decided to play again. The game is easy to learn, and all of the information is neatly organized onto the cards in a way that keeps the game flowing.

Creature defeated
And now you’re dead.

In our second game, we played a standard difficulty game with three random monsters. We pulled Frankenstein and his Bride (I know Frankenstein was the doctor and not the creature, but we’re using the classic movie version so we’re going with it), The Wolfman, and The Invisible Man. I used my Professor’s Move a Villager ability more in order to save villagers and get bonus Perk cards, but we still got our butts kicked pretty hard! We defeated the Invisible man, but our great rolls on behalf of the monsters continued. Connor switched characters from the Scientist to the Mayor, who is depicted as an older lady in a wheelchair, and gets 5 Actions instead of 4 as her special ability. But it seemed that every time Frankenstein was activated, he moved over to the Mayor’s space and flipped her chair. She defended herself once by dual-wielding a pair of shovels, but Connor couldn’t pick items up fast enough to throw them at Frankenstein and nullify the hits. In fact, Frankenstein went to visit the Mayor IN THE HOSPITAL. It’s almost like this horrible creature got joy from tipping the old lady out of her chair!

Anyway, we had a great time with this one. So many moments that happened could be imagined as part of a narrative, especially a corny horror film narrative. In our first game, Lucy the villager got put on the board by the event on a Monster Card, and was promptly eaten by Dracula who was in the adjacent space. 

And it doesn’t take too long to play, so you could have more than one game in an evening!

Connor

Unlike the other games we’ve reviewed here we played this one twice. In our first game we played on easy to get the feel of it. We were faced off against Dracula and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The former we brought down pretty easily, with the Scientist’s +1 to item strength coming very much in handy, letting me break several of his coffins which required 6+ worth of red items to destroy with the 5 strength items we kept drawing. The Creature from the Black Lagoon posed somewhat more of a challenge, however, and it nearly managed to run out the monster cards before we managed to defeat it.  

  Feeling emboldened by the win in our first game, we decided to play the second on normal difficulty, drawing 3 monsters, in this case the Invisible Man, Frankenstein and his bride, and the Werewolf.  I decided to switch characters from the Scientist to the Mayor, deciding that the extra action each turn was likely to be more useful than +1 item strength. The Invisible Man proved to be quite a pain at first, stealing 2 stacks of 3 items each, in a scenario where items were pretty important. However, we managed to focus him down fairly early, leaving us with just 2 monsters left to deal with. We were getting close to dealing with the Werewolf, and I had started working on Frankenstein, but the latter’s hunger for the blood of the disabled proved to be too much for us, with him repeatedly hunting me down across the map and viciously beating me up, rolling somewhere on the order of 90% hits, and even the numerous items I was desperately gathering for defence proved to be of little more use than a stiff wind. At one point we even had to look up whether I could be killed twice in one turn after the Invisible Man decided to play at wheelchair tipping in the second turn, and Frankenstein decided to pay me a not so nice visit in the hospital.

  All-in-all it was quite fun and easy to learn, but tricky to manage your time and resources well enough to pull out a victory.  Drawing random monsters out of the 6 available gives good replay value, with their different defeat mechanics requiring very different strategies to beat them within the given timeframe.

Rhiannon

This game was so much fun! It was really easy to learn and didn’t take long to play. 

I liked making backstories for the characters. I didn’t have to but it was still fun. 

 We played the first game and won easily so we played another one with more monsters. 

The Invisible Man was a jerk. He stole all the items I was about to get which I think cost us the game. The Wolfman was powerful but stayed away from me (I don’t taste good apparently). We did our best to keep Frankenstein and his Bride away from each other so they didn’t murder us with oogieness (love) but I guess we didn’t have to worry a lot because Frankenstein kept going after and slapping my brother who was the old lady in a wheelchair. It was amazing.

We rolled so many hits. I thought it was hilarious but my brother didn’t think so.

We lost that game and it was my brother to blame. It was a really fun night and I will definitely want to play this game again!