‘Mansions of Madness’ board game review
By Lauren Kelly, Graphics Manager
Mansions of Madness is a turn-based cooperative exploration game based on the ever-popular mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. This alone will be enough to win some of you over, but it has another point in its favour: The game requires a companion app that serves as the game master by telling the story, laying out the rooms, and directing you along the way. This makes the gameplay a very smooth and immersive experience that wouldn’t be possible with one player having to do all the work on their own.
The app also comes with many scenarios of varying game lengths and difficulties, giving you many options based on your time constraints and skill level. As a word of caution, don’t fully trust the length—each game will play longer than they promise. Still, it’s a handy reference point for comparing the lengths.
When you start the game, you and your teammates each choose an investigator character who has their own abilities, skill in various categories, and motivations for investigating these mysteries. For example, some investigators are strong but not very perceptive, while others may be quick and observant but physically weak.
Mansions plays like a classic point-and-click adventure, with the companion app marking off search spots and new doors to explore with tokens on your game board. You can use your turns to search these and find useful items, clues, and new rooms to hunt through.
Of course, not everything you find is positive. New rooms can house new enemies, from cultists to zombies to much more horrifying eldritch creatures. In addition to this, time marches on no matter what you do, so events will happen and monsters will still appear even if you don’t seek them out.
You and your fellow investigators can find tools, such as knives, guns, and blunt weapons, to take these enemies out, but even an unarmed person can be a strong one. Fight back but be cautious—spending too much time around these creatures will inflict horror onto your investigators, giving you negative effects. Too much horror and your investigator will go insane, potentially giving you a new win condition and turning you against your allies. Additionally, taking too much damage can lead to your death. Luckily you can find healing items, but the risk still adds plenty of gravity to these already tense situations.
I wholeheartedly recommend this game. It’s a blast to play and a great way to spend an evening. Just make sure you have a play group who can appreciate sitting around for a few hours of tense, story-based gameplay. The only downside is the price tag—around $150—but with 24 well-designed miniatures, tons of cards and room tiles, and very high replay value, this game is worth every penny. It’s even playable with only one player, so you can sit down by yourself on one of those weekends where you just can’t organize your group.