Review – Horrified: American Monsters

I saw a Chupacabra drinking a pina colata at Cross Creek...

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Designer Michael Mulvihill

Artist George Doutsiopoulos & others

Publisher Ravensburger

Category Cooperative, Action Points

Length 60 minutes

Release Date 2021

Player Count 1-5

The original Horrified pitted 1-5 players against classic movie monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein and His Bride, and the Mummy all while trying to move around the board and save villagers who just happened to live in the most cursed town this side of Transylvania. In Horrified: American Monsters, the horror has come to Cross Creek, USA, where players will face off against Bigfoot, Mothman, Chupacabra, the Banshee of the Badlands, the Ozark Howler, and the Jersey Devil. So, are you ready to save the town from the worst Cryptids in America? 

Content Guide

The Monsters range from Bigfoot to a Banshee with a skeleton friend, to various monsters and demons. The Jersey Devil looks like a buck with a demon tail and dragon wings; the Ozark Howler looks like a yeti with ram horns. No blood or gore is present, and when Investigators take damage they wake up at the hospital and the Terror track increases 1. If a Citizen is attacked they are removed from the board and the Terror track increases 1. When Monsters are defeated they are simply removed from the board, and any cards that would trigger their movement or attacks are ignored from then on. 

Review

Gameplay still consists of players cooperatively taking their actions, then drawing a Monster Card that has the potential to add items to the board, activate special abilities for the Monsters, and also let them move and attack the players and citizens. Just as in the original, there are 6 different Monsters to fight, and the game has tips for players who wish to increase or decrease the difficulty. Anyone who’s won a game of Horrified before will find the suggested starter 2 Monsters, the Banshee and the Chupacabra, probably fairly easy to contend with. 

The new Monsters come in 3 varieties, low complexity (Chupacabra and Banshee), medium (Mothman and Ozark Howler), and high (Bigfoot and Jersey Devil). Chupa and the Banshee are straightforward, “Do A then B to defeat” fights, whereas Mothman and the Howler take a little more planning and strategy to win. Mothman you have to trap and watch out for him zipping across the map with his “Demon’s Eye” power, whereas the Howler has to be hunted down and can make the trip more difficult if he gets a Power (!) symbol on the dice when attacking. The high complexity fights are by far the most interesting, but also require the most setup. Bigfoot requires you to get photographic evidence before defeating him, which plays like a shuffle puzzle, but he can make life harder by flipping the photo pieces face-down. The Jersey Devil was my favorite by far, as you have to do a special action to bring citizens onto the board, then escort them to safety to learn clues about who the JD is masquerading as, making it feel a bit like a Guess Who mini-game. Also impressive is I didn’t realize the similarities in the portraits until I had played against this Monster. 

Other than the new Monsters, the biggest difference is how much more colorful this version of the game is; where the original Horrified game board was mostly blue and yellow, this one sports vibrant colors on the board, which make all the locations pop versus the plain brown buildings that make up the rest of the town. On the downside, the colors for the item tokens are yellow, brown, and teal. I understand not wanting to copy the red, yellow and blue of the original, but I had to wonder why these colors. Based on the colors and some of the character’s clothes, I had to guess that maybe the game was vaguely set in the 70’s or 80’s, which would account for some of the color choices. Much like player aids or reference cards (which this game includes!), the odd color choices of games is something I always seem to notice. Overall, the color and design changes could be described as 3 steps forward, 1 step back. 

Horrified: American Monsters is a great addition to Ravensburger’s catalog, but the changes are not quite significant enough in my mind to justify needing it and the original, unless you absolutely loved Horrified. The core gameplay loop of moving, taking actions and putting out metaphorical fires while protecting villagers/citizens is the same, just with different player and Monster powers for each game. You could in theory use Monsters and Investigators from different games in each setting, but some won’t translate without their specific location needs. I also enjoyed the upgrade of the item bag in American Monsters being able to stand up, since it’s flexible plastic instead of just a bag. So overall, if you’re trying to pick between the two, I’d go with American Monsters due to the improvements they’ve made, but since it isn’t reinventing the wheel I don’t think it’s a must-buy for owners of the original. 

If you’re interested in our review of the original Horrified, click here

The Bottom Line

An improvement on the original, American Monsters is a great addition to any game shelf - just not necessarily a must-have for owners of the first game.

 

8

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Author: Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.