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Horrified: American Monsters Game Review

Second verse, same as the first

Can you and your friends save the town from some iconic American monsters? Join Tom in his review of Horrified: American Monsters from Ravensburger.

“If you’re going to make a sequel, do it right and make the same damn movie all over again.”
Joe Bob Briggs, King of the Drive-In Movie

In 2019, Prospero Hall released Horrified, a cooperative game (co-op) that made Meeple Mountain’s Most Anticipated Games of GenCon 2019 list and won two of our Diamond Climber Awards of 2019 (Best Coop Game and Best Thematic Game). In her review, my former Meeple Mountain colleague, Ashley Gariepy, (Hi Smash!) said Horrified was an incredible cooperative game that is easy to learn and teach and can be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike.

Let’s see how 2021’s Horrified: American Monsters stacks up against its predecessor, shall we?.

Horrified: American Monsters
Horrified: American Monsters

How to Play

When I re-read Ashley’s review of Horrified for this review, I realized her descriptions of the setup, gameplay, and challenges were interchangeable with Horrified: American Monsters. If you’re unfamiliar with how Horrified games play, check out Ashley’s very well-written review of the original game and come back to find out more about the American Monsters edition.

The American Monsters

As you may already know (or have just learned from Ashley’s review), the original Horrified featured monsters who appeared in films released by Universal Pictures. The American Monsters edition reaches into the collective U.S. psyche and challenges players with Bigfoot, Mothman, the Jersey Devil, the Chupacabra, the Banshee of the Badlands, and the Ozark Howler.

Nice detail work on the plastic monster minitures
Nice detail work on the plastic monster miniatures

As with the original, each American monster has its own unique character traits and ways of being defeated. 

Creature cards
Creature cards

The game boards look remarkably similar, with one change being the areas in the bottom right corner being better connected in American Monsters.

Horrified: American Monsters: the game board.
Horrified: American Monsters: the game board.

The Good

Echoing Ashley’s comments once again, Horrified: American Monsters is a well-designed cooperative game that both non- and serious gamers can pick up quickly and enjoy. The rules are uncomplicated and the iconography is easy to pick up on. Given the different requirements to defeat the six different monsters, and the ability to play with any combination of two (for an easy game) to four (hard) of the six monsters means there’s a lot of replayability in the box.

And yet…

The Not-So-Good

The other members of my weekly gaming group had already played Horrified: American Monsters a few times, so they were able to teach me the game in just a few minutes. We were off collecting tokens and strategizing how best to collect goats (needed to defeat the Chupacabra) in no time. 

We moved around the board collecting tokens, escorting the occasional Citizen from place to place, and avoiding monsters as best we could. When taking hits from monsters, we simply spent unneeded tokens to negate the damage. We quickly uncovered the three clues to determine which of the Citizens was really the Jersey Devil. Both monsters were defeated without much complication. 

After we won the game we sat back and looked at the board. Usually, when we win a cooperative game, there’s a sense of accomplishment. A sense that through teamwork and wise decisions, and with a bit of luck, we were able to win. Instead, I shrugged and said, “Hmmm.” My gaming group also shrugged and nodded their heads.

Subsequent games with other monsters have not changed those initial shrugs.

Now, I love a good co-op game. Pandemic (my personal #2 co-op) and Burgle Bros. (my #1) provide a strong challenge with an air of mystery (Where will the next outbreak take place? Where is the safe on this floor and can we get the combination before the guard catches us?). The tension in these games is felt on the first turn and only gets more intense as the game progresses.

I’ve never felt that with Horrified: American Monsters. The various necessary actions to win the game turned actions into logical choices with few interesting decisions throughout the game. Even completing the necessary steps to prepare to defeat each monster just felt fiddly—or, worse, frustrating (I’m looking at you Banshee.) These have ended up feeling like Filler to Prolong the Game. When we finally had what we needed to vanquish a monster, killing them off felt anticlimactic.

Is Horrified: American Monsters a horrible game? No. Its theme and ease of entry make it a good game for many players. It certainly can work as an introduction to co-op games and be replayed as often as one likes.

As a co-op game, it’s fine. And that’s part of my problem with the game: it’s fine. I can accept what it is and how it works but, for me, it brings nothing new or exciting to the table. Personally, I’ll stick with Pandemic and Burgle Bros., even as introductory games for people new to co-ops.

  • Mediocre - I probably won’t remember playing this in a year.

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

About the author

Tom Franklin

By day, I'm a mild-mannered IT Manager with a slight attitude. By night I play guitar & celtic bouzouki, board games, and watch British TV. I love abstracts, co-ops, worker placement and tile-laying games. Basically, any deep game with lots of interesting choices. 

You can find my middle grade book, The Pterrible Pteranodon, at your favorite online bookstore.

And despite being a DM, I have an inherent dislike of six-sided dice.

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