Until yesterday, the most exciting thing that ever happened to your sleepy town of Cross Creek was when Nora's cherry pie won first place at the county fair. But now there's been sightings of Bigfoot, the goats are being devoured by a Chupacabra, and there are even rumors that Mothman's been spotted haunting the town. Together with a team of fellow investigators, you'll have to track these (and more!) monsters down while figuring out how to stop them before the town is overcome with terror. Do you have what it takes to save Cross Creek in Horrified: American Monsters?
Horrified: American Monsters is a cooperative adventure board game for one to five players, published by Ravensburger Games. In it, players take on the role of investigators in a desperate attempt to work together to vanquish a series of monsters inspired by American folklore. To win the game, players must fulfill various objectives relative to each individual monster they're facing before the monsters raise the terror in town to its maximum.
The original Horrified -- released in 2019 -- pits players against classic Universal Monsters including Frankenstein's Monster, The Wolf Man, Dracula, and more, and the setting mirrored those gothic, 1930s aesthetics. In Horrified: American Monsters (which is a standalone game), the classic cryptids that terrorize your small town include Bigfoot, Mothman, the Jersey Devil, the Chupacabra, the Banshee of the Badlands, and the Ozark Howler, and it's all set in a 1950s/1960s style small American town.
What makes this game, like Horrified before it, so engaging is the way each monster is defeated. This isn't a simple slug-fest; instead, Horrified: American Monsters challenges players to solve different types of problems depending on which monsters are on the board. And these specific challenges really thematically tie closely to the monsters they're attached to. For Chupacabra, you have to run around the map collecting goats before he can eat them. The Jersey Devil is hiding in plain sight as one of the citizens of the town, and you'll have to track down clues to unveil its secret identity. And for the naturally shy Bigfoot, who doesn't really want much trouble, you'll have to track him down and eventually solve a sliding puzzle to produce photographic proof of his existence. By mixing and matching these monsters with each playthrough, you're guaranteed an entirely unique gaming experience each every time you sit down at the table.
The picking and choosing of these monsters also means there's a really simple and efficient sliding difficulty scale built right into the game. Want an easier go at saving Cross Creek? Select two monsters to face off against at the start of the game. Want to go in with little hope of survival? Bring four monsters to the table.
Along with sliding difficulty, the game also rewards players for clever teamwork. As in many "adventure-style" cooperative games like this, each player character has their own special ability that, when combined through careful planning, can result in pretty incredible turns. Gameplay is easy to grasp and you jump right into the action, with a select and manageable amount of things you can do each turn.
Stylistically, I'm absolutely in love with the look of this game. From the detailed monster miniatures to the expressive artwork on each investigator and citizen's standee, this game is truly a work of art. The map of the town evokes this cozy yet oddly foreboding quality to it, recalling classic rubber mask B-movies of the 1950s while also invoking a sort of Route 66, small-town America vibe. This is a town it would be a trip to visit... if the Ozark Howler wasn't currently rampaging through the streets.
Horrified: American Monsters also naturally weaves emergent storytelling into almost everything that happens in the game. For instance, one of the ways to earn extra cards that can help in your quest is to escort citizens from one location on the map to another. When you're told to place the traveling salesman at his starting spot in the motel, you'll gain a card by helping him get to the tavern. The auto-mechanic at the gas station wants to get to the Bait Shop. These little moments make sense in-world, and with little more than four or five words they convey wonderful little mini melodramas.
The Bottom Line
Horrified: American Monsters takes a formula that worked perfectly in the original game and delivers upon that promise once again. These monsters also feel wonderfully different from the previous monsters, and it absolutely oozes atmosphere and theme. The Horrified franchise really is a special game series, with enough attention to detail throughout to satisfy newcomers and veterans to the genre alike. If you're a fan of midnight monster movies, American cryptids, and/or incredibly solid cooperative board games, Horrified: American Monsters is a must-try. Add to that the fact that this game's MSRP is $34.99 USD, and it's a value that leaps ahead of most other games of its size and stature. The only question is: what's next for the Horrified team? (Fingers crossed for a 1980s-style game featuring slasher-movie villain archetypes!)
Get This Game If...
- You're a fan of the original Horrified (Note: these two games can't be combined)
- You love 1950s Drive-In Movie Monsters
- You're looking for a cooperative board game with adjustable difficulty
Avoid This Game If...
- You're looking for a competitive game
- You want a cooperative game with a more complicated ruleset
- You don't believe in Bigfoot (what's wrong with you!?)
The copy of Horrified: American Monsters used in this review was provided by the publisher.