We’ve all been there before. You know the feeling. You’re chilling with your pals and gals, and then someone says it. That wondrous statement. “Hey, let’s play a board game.” You spin around and cheer, “YAAAAASSSSS!” as you feel your body fill with joy. Kind of like that feeling on Christmas morning. You rush over to look at the glorious collection of tabletop games your friend has collected throughout the years. Naturally, you skim over Monopoly looking for something that catches your eye.
You see that boss looking box with that boss looking art and say, “Let’s play this. It looks sweet!” Your friend responds, “Yeah, that game is awesome!” Reassured by their excitement, you hurry over to your gaming spot, have your friend explain the rules, and dive in. Then, as you’re playing, you think to yourself, “Wow, this game is absolute…TRASH!” *Sigh* It’s alright. As I said, we’ve all been there before, but that’s the risk of picking from Your Friend’s Gaming Shelf.
Welcome. This is Matt Tozzi here with a new series where we; get together with some friends, pick a random game off of their gaming shelf/closet/storage that they have kept throughout their years, play it, and then give our thoughts on our friends game. Will the game be amazing or will it turn out to be a waste of a night? No matter the outcome, we always learn more about our friends.
Today, I’m discovering my friend’s (Dan) collection. Dan talked up this game saying, “I have a lot of games, but this is one of the few ones I travel with. I played it for four hours straight the other night!” Considering its popularity among the tabletop community and my lack of playing it, I happily asked to play. The game I speak of is…
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a strategy game with a horror based theme involving…any guesses? Yes, that is correct. A betrayal. The game consists of two phases. The first is an explorative, cooperative phase where you and a group of players (3-6) enter a house and explore it’s quite seemingly endless rooms. In doing so, certain events happen such as; rooms spawning eyes following your every movement affecting your mental traits, walls starting to bleed making you question your mental status, floors caving in hurting a physical trait, or finding a madman who ends up being your friend, of course.
In doing all this, you help yourself from the inevitable betrayal (really known as the Haunt) that is just a few turns away by searching and finding essential items such as a chainsaw, a mysterious powerful ring, and the “can’t live without” chalk to help keep yourself alive and fight whatever may come at you. Eventually, though, this Haunt will come and one of the players will be selected usually to betray the rest of the gang and kill them to win. I say “usually” though due to one of the greatest features of the game: Replayability.
Depending on how things have progressed, there are different stories scripted already out on of how the remainder of the game will play out. There are several, and I mean SEVERAL, different endings that make each game interesting and new. This could include you and the rest of the players fighting up against the betrayer (I was killed and lost), everyone teaming up trying to defeat some sort of monster or monsters (I died almost immediately when the Haunt started), or, if you have no soul, becoming the betrayer yourself and murdering all your friends (…I actually won and rather enjoyed myself). Each role you’re assigned has secret instructions that explain how you win and how you could lose. Once one of the instructions is completed, the madness ends and the game finishes with one or more winners.
Due to my bias of preferring an actual board to my games, I was a bit skeptical. The game starts with just a few tiles, however, as players discover new rooms, more and more tiles get added on eventually mapping out the house and quite possibly a large board. This is a unique feature that I rather enjoyed and dismissed any skepticism that I had.
“I have a lot of games, but this is one of the few ones I travel with.”
Furthermore, the game really shines in the large number of alternate stories that each Haunt provides, each has their own unique feel which could borrow themes and classic, recognizable features from Dracula, Frankenstein, and Harry Potter. This feature really adds excitement that I found myself laughing by how much enjoyment I was having as I read my first Haunt, and at the end of the night, I felt a longing to want to play more. In the end, I give the game a 3.5 out of 5 and highly recommend you give this a try. Whether you betray the others or are the betrayed, I suspect you will want to play again and again to experience a new Haunt each time.
So what do you think readers? Have you played before? Would you betray all your friends or just draw pictures on the wall with your chalk? What are your thoughts on the multiple story outcomes? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!