Race through the cemetery to arrest Professor Esker who has been experimenting on the pets in the cemetery trying to bring back his beloved Mr. Mittens. The Pet Cemetery is the first game from designer Anthony Hore and is a family-friendly game with a cute and creepy theme.
The first thing that stands out about The Pet Cemetery is the level of polish on the artwork in the game. It makes sense that the designer is an artist because the game has a cute and creepy style that immediately pops. Players are aiming to be the first one through the cemetery filled with undead pets that are the product of the evil professor.
Speed (and Cards) Are Key
Each player has a role card that will give you a specific ability as you journey through the cemetery. These role cards will give you a one time ability that you can use during the game. The abilities fit their characters such as the Speedster that can move diagonal twice or the Thief that can still a single card from another player.
Your character is represented as a cardboard standee in the cemetery. On your turn, you can move 1 space in any cardinal direction, draw a single card from the deck or play a card from your hand. These cards are a big focus of The Pet Cemetery because they can create combos that give you a leg up on your opponents.
The cards give you weapons to defeat undead animals, actions that steal cards or jump over spaces and handcuffs which are required to win the game as you approach the end game. You’ll receive 3 cards to start with but can hold a total of 6 card during the game. The more I play the game, the more I realize that spending a couple turns to gather cards is incredibly valuable.
Watch Your Step
There are icons scattered throughout the cemetery that will trigger when a player steps on the tile. “Hex” tiles will spawn an undead pet on another unoccupied hex tile. The “safe” tile will protect you from the attacks of these undead pets. The “monster move” tile features claw marks and allows the player to move any undead pet. “Pit” spaces must be jumped over and the “treasure” box will give you a choice between two new cards.
The Pet Cemetery is a game that requires you to be a little ruthless. Players will direct undead pets to attack other players and force their opponents to go out of their way to avoid attacks. If a player is attacked by a pet and unable to defend themselves with a weapon card, they’re sent back to the last checkpoint they crossed on the board.
The first player to reach the steps at the edge of the cemetery with a pair of handcuffs to arrest the professor wins the game.
Creepy Family Fun
Let me start by saying that I love the theme of this game. Growing up watching horror movies and as a fan of Halloween, The Pet Cemetery is right in my wheel house. The artwork has a cute and slightly unsettling feel to it. The undead pet tokens are tough not to fall in love with.
The Pet Cemetery is a light game and can be pretty cutthroat. Our kids are now teens and this game was a big hit for them. Not only did our whole family enjoy the creepy theme but the play time was just right at under 30 minutes. Players will do everything they can to impede the progress of any player that is in the front of the pack. This cutthroat gameplay wasn’t an issue because it’s quick to jump into back-to-back games and avenge your loss.
For families that enjoy this backstabbing game play, this will be a good fit. If you have younger kids who may get upset when players target them, this could cause some tears at the game table.
We’ve had a great time with the game and it definitely scratches that itch for a light family game that can be played after dinner on a school night or a racing game to kick off a game night.
The Pet Cemetery is being funded through Kickstarter and the campaign will be up until September 30, 2020.
A prototype of the game was provided for this coverage. Components and rules covered in this preview are not finalized. Read more about our preview policies at One Board Family.