Game Review: Slaughterville Director’s Cut

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Number of Players: 1-6

Time- 60-90 minutes

Age- 14+

Game Type: Storybuilding Survival

Gamer Type: Casual

Complexity: 5

We all know we love horror tropes. The sliding through scary scenes, hoping that the big bad does not see us, or if it does, that we are ready to defend ourselves with whatever odd objects we have lying around. The love of horror stems from the idea that we are living in the illusion that we are safe at all times, the perfect suburban or city worlds only fractured by the dystopian reality that comes to us through a news story on TV or through the newspaper. We are attracted to the “scary” in movies and games because it gives us the sense of relief that we have control over the environment. Slaughterville II captures this feeling perfectly in what can best be described as a cooperative storytelling strategy game.

Story

The story changes every time you play the game, which gives you the same type of feel as Betrayal at House on the Hill but in a very different game. In Slaughterville, you know where you are going and what you are doing, unlike other games where you are looking for your reason. This gives Slaughterville a more concrete feeling of knowing your goals, which can make some players more comfortable. The stories are drawn from classic horror stories, so there is a lot of good material as you work your way through the game. The differing environments also change the gameplay quickly – Redneck Cannibals in the City sounds better than some of the stuff on TV now. 7.5 of 10.

Artwork

When you have a card-driven game, you need a good set of artwork to draw people into the game. Laughing Rogue delivers this quite well. The card art (both big and little cards) is well done and represents the areas quite well. The box is a little smaller than standard, but the same thickness, so it is almost one you should store vertically on your shelf. Overall, the artwork draws the player into the game and helps you build a fun story as you play. 6.5 of 10.

Mechanics

The mechanics of this game are simple for a horror-based game, which is a relief if you have ever dropped into a 4 hour game of Arkham Horror. The mechanics are “roll and act” to further the story. What you do, and how you have to roll, are based on what cards you draw when you are in each region and what “big bad” you are fighting. I know some “Euro-Gamers” hate when there are two randomizers in a game, especially when one is a set of dice, however, this makes sense in a horror game. Let’s face it, we watch horror movies because we all feel we are smarter than the people in the movie who forget they have cars, cell phones, guns, or any number of modern items that make dealing with monsters and criminals a little easier. The randomization simulates our inability to plan for anything, the adrenaline if you will. Rather than the players being dumb and missing an “easy out” we have a situation where the dice or the cards disrupt the best-laid plans of the team. 8 of 10 for mechanics style.

Strategy

In storytelling games, you have trouble finding strategy because players can do what they want within the rules. The players are the strategy. Mostly, this game will be engine building or rush. Either you build up an engine to win the scenario or you rush the big bad before you are picked off one by one. The offense and defense are kind of out the window (though they have their moments). One of the best features is that your strategy can be torpedoed by a bad roll or draw from a teammate, which helps us get into the “bumbling fool” trope of the horror movie genre. 5 of 10.

Novelty and Overall

There are lots of horror games on the market, and you’ll notice I do not write about many of them. Just like horror movies, you need 10,000 “House” movies before you get one “Night of the Living Dead” or “Jaws.” Well, there are thousands of bad horror games before you find a good game like Slaughterville II. 8 of 10.

This game is worth picking up. It is a storytelling game, so that means you are sitting down for the full 1.5 hours if you have a full group. Rather than sitting around watching the latest Marvel movie, which likely cost more than Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight, you can actually sit around with your friends and build your own story. “What I would have done” becomes “What I am doing,” which is more fun, in my honest opinion. With a score of 35 out of 50 this is a strong game that should bring a lot of your friends to the table, getting them away from having their faces buried in their devices (though for a pro tip: have some theme-related music playing in the background while you play.) Great game.

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Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer is a writer for NRN and an adjunct professor at both Penn State University and the University of South Florida. He is the author of several books, most recently “A Criminal History of the Democrat Party” which is available on Amazon and via the publisher, Elite Exclusivity. Follow on Twitter at @Acriminalhisto1

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