The Stifling Dark Preview

I’m a huge fan of horror movies and the tension of a good movie is something that’s rarely found in a board game. The Stifling Dark is a game that absolutely translates the tension and suspense of a good horror movie onto the table. This hidden movement game places a single player into the role of the “adversary” while everyone else plays investigators.

Investigators are using their flashlights and resources to escape as the adversary lurks in the darkness. The Stifling Dark has the protagonist making movements and actions behind a screen like many other “one-versus-many” games. Each adversary will have different tools at their disposal along with a different win condition. With multiple avenues to victory for the investigators, which will your team choose?

The Stifling Dark player board

The Team vs The Lone Wolf

The map of the Sawmill (the board included with the prototype) was impressively large. There’s a lot to explore and plenty of space to spread out. Using this space could be helpful or leave players vulnerable to attacks by the adversary. The map includes interactive points of interest that make the space feel alive as you investigate.

Each player is equipped with a flashlight that will aid in helping you locate the adversary during the game. Using the flashlight will illuminate the spaces that fall inside the translucent overlay that the player uses. This will reveal items scattered around the map or even reveal the location of the adversary.

The Stifling Dark flashlight

This is flashlight mechanic adds so much tension to the game and is a unique spin on this style game. As the player uses their flashlight, they lose battery power on their player board. Players can recharge their battery by not using their flashlight, decreasing their view.

Teams that work together can explore the map efficiently and put the adversary on the run. While I’ve played plenty of one-versus-many games in the past, The Stifling Dark awards teams that work together as they cover the map. The adversary is going to need to find ways to sneak through the dark, taking opportunities to injure the investigators when possible.

The Stifling Dark adversary map

Tension Filling the Tabletop

I’ve been so impressed by the cat and mouse tension that The Stifling Dark creates. Flipping on the flashlight to find items or locate the enemy is incredibly satisfying as something new is illuminated.

Each game will give the investigators different ways to find success. Will you repair the vehicle to drive out of reach of the adversary? Can your team find everything needed to open the gate and escape on foot? Will you hunt down and take out the adversary in the dark? Each avenue has a level of difficulty and it’s up to you and your team of investigators to decide which you’ll focus on.

The Stifling Dark cards

While the investigators are often being hunted, there are opportunities to put your enemy on the ropes as they try to stop you from finding success. All of this leads to tense gameplay that feels like a horror movie playing out on your table.

Even More to Explore

What we’ve played of The Stifling Dark is impressive, tense and fun. Even playing the same map and adversary multiple times led to different experiences. The team at Sophisticated Cerberus Games are developing more adversaries to play against, more maps to explore and expansions before it’s finally published in 2024.

The Stifling Dark discovery

Our time with the game was fun, intense and a good glimpse into the things to come from this team. This game absolutely hit the horror board game itch that I have. Fans of slasher films and players who enjoy tension in their gaming will definitely get sucked into this title.

Missed the Kickstarter? Don’t worry! Pre-order The Stifling Dark today to guarantee your copy of the game.

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.