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Illustration by Ed Appleby

‘Arkham Horror’ game review

By Ed Appleby, Illustrator

This October, I’m going to be taking a look at a series of darker themed games. This week we go absolutely crazy with a fun yet maddening game—in more ways than one.

Arkham Horror is a thematic board game for one to eight players designed by Richard Launius in 2005 and published by Fantasy Flight Games. The game takes place in the Lovecraftian town of Arkham, where elder gods and darker things stalk the foggy alleys and dark corners.

Players work together in this game to solve the mysteries that Arkham holds by locating artifacts, sealing denominational gates, traveling to other worlds, and eventually doing battle with the elder gods themselves. As anyone who has ever read H.P. Lovecraft or purchased a Cthulhu plushie knows, sanity plays a huge part in this universe. You utilize your character’s skills to defeat the encroaching darkness and do your best not to end up in the hospital or the mental asylum.

Those unfamiliar with the pen-and-paper style of role-playing games will most likely be overwhelmed by the shear volume of information that you need to manage during the game. The game box estimates the game to take four hours to play, though in my experience the game is more likely to take six to eight hours. Also, most of that gameplay is spent trying to prevent the elder god from awakening, which rarely succeeds, and after which you engage in a climactic battle with the elder gods. At that point, the whole game takes on a different mechanic, which makes you wonder why you’ve been playing for half the day.

If you love complex storytelling and have several hours to kill, Arkham Horror is great and complex, which makes it a good game to play on a foggy Saturday afternoon. But it is definitely more of an expert-level game and not for the faint of heart.