As a kid of the 80’s, I can’t think of a more iconic cast of characters than the Universal Movie Monsters. These early to mid-1900’s monsters are instantly recognizable. Whether you’re a fan of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster or his hair raising bride, these characters are classic. Horrified is a game that uses the Universal Movie Monster license in a way that makes sense and players can come back to over and over.
Horrified was created by Prospero Hall and published by Ravensburger. Up to 5 players are working together in this cooperative game to rid the town of these larger than life monsters. The town is made up of a series of locations that are connected together by single paths. Players move through the town collecting items, protecting and guiding defenseless town’s people and eventually defeating the monsters.
You’ll find 7 classic monsters in Horrified. You have the Wolf Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, Dracula, the Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster. When you set up the game, you’ll choose which monsters will appear in the town along with how many monsters will show up during the game. This is how the game adjusts the difficulty and it works really well.
Players can choose a character or can be assigned one. Each of these characters have a unique ability that will be an asset to the team. Horrified does a good job of breaking each turn into very digestible phases. The character dictates how many actions the player will get on their turn. These actions include moving, guiding a towns person, picking up items, sharing items with another player, taking an advanced action, taking a special action and defeating a monster. A players turn ends when they draw a Monster Card which allows the monsters to take their turn.
A Real Monster Mash
The Monster Cards are broken into 3 parts. First, it will introduce a number of items to the town. Second, the card will introduce an event which could be tied to a specific monster or bring a town’s person onto the map. Finally, the card tells you which monsters will move and strike.
Monsters will always move to the closest villager or player character available. Once they complete their movement, someone rolls the number of dice shown on the attack and resolve those dice. If the monster does damage, the player can discard an item to cancel the die. I like to think about this as a person tossing random items like shovels, test tubes and crosses at the monster. If the exclamation point shows up on the dice, then the Monster Power is activated. This is different for each creature and usually not good for the players.
If a player is hit by the monster, they are hospitalized but still in the game. Villagers that are not in a player’s protection just die. Anytime either of these happen, the Terror Level goes up on the top of the board.
The game comes to an end when the players defeat all the monsters (Win), the Terror Level reaches the skull (Lose) or the Monster Deck has run out of cards (Lose).
Lessons from a Monster Hunter
I’m a fan of cooperative games because of the table talk and the combining of forces that happen when digging into the style of game. Fans of Pandemic and the Forbidden series of games will feel at home with Horrified. I’ve won a couple games and lost a couple games and loved each one of these experiences.
I’ve come to understand a couple things about Horrified through my time with the game. First, players need to make every action count. As the Monster Deck decreases, there is a level of anxiety that shows up. Players are given Perk Cards for guiding villagers to their homes. These cards are a huge help in making a players turn count.
Second, being close to a monster means you’re going to get hit. In our first game of Horrified, we stayed about 1 location away from the monsters as we completed our actions. We felt safe. That is where we screwed up. We were attacked over and over, landing us in the hospital and terrifying the village. The game ended quickly as the Terror Level climbed each time we were hospitalized. Now we know to keep some distance on the monsters.
Third, keep items with you at all times. Items are necessary for defeating the monsters, completing advanced actions and protecting yourself from monster attacks. Since you can pick up any number of items at a location using a single action, it’s important to talk with the team about what should be left behind for others.
A Monstrously Good Game
If we’re honest with ourselves, licensed games have been terrible for a very long time. Only in the past 5 years have we seen quality games hit the market with big licenses. I went into Horrified hoping to bring back the nostalgia that movies like The Monster Squad give me. Horrified has done this and more.
While this game won’t change your mind about cooperative games, I can say that it’s one of the most fun co-op games we own. I love the challenge of swapping out the monsters for a new experience. It’s so satisfying when the players get together and plot out how they will take down Dracula or the Mummy. The components in the game are excellent while the Monster minis are just OK. I wish these molds were better but it honestly doesn’t take anything away from the game itself.
The illustrations on the cards are very well done and fit the vintage Hollywood feel of the original Universal movies. As a Dad, I’m thankful that the game doesn’t have any blood or gore that could be an issue for some families. With a little coaching, this game is a great co-op for kids 8+. Horrified was a far better game than I expected it to be and a game that will hit the table all year long.