Location: Your Home!
Players: We recommend 2-4
Price: $69.95 MRSP
Old Man Stauf he built a house, and filled it with his toys. Six guests were invited in one night, their screams the only noise.
The granddaddy of PC horror games, The 7th Guest has been adapted into a puzzling tabletop game! Take on the role of one of Henry Stauf’s guests, attempt to solve his puzzles, and leave Stauf Manor with your heart’s desire, or die trying.
Ah, the thrill of wandering around Stauf’s creepy manor returns!
As a fan of The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour, I was very excited to see that Trilobyte games was releasing a board game based on these properties. When the call for reviews came out, I jumped at the chance to give it a spin. At first I was cautious as the computer games have been dear to my heart since childhood, but my expectations were definitely exceeded with this game!
My fiancée and I tried The 7th Guest out one evening, and once we’d given it a quick run through on the quickest game mode, “The Nickle Tour,” we were hooked! We immediately spent the next couple hours running through “The Grand Tour” and have played it many times since. Backing up a bit, the game is based on basic board game mechanics of rolling a special die, (This one is a d6 based on the Ouija board from the original game, and features only the numbers, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11, which is an odd choice, but somehow works,) and moving towards a destination in order to solve Puzzler cards. Your destination on the board is determined by a number of randomly dealt out Destination cards, (anywhere from 5 for a 2 player 30ish minute game to 18 for a 2+ hour game,) and the Puzzler cards are a mashup of trivia, cryptic clues, mind games, and horror themed puzzles. Each time you reach a room and successfully solve a Puzzler, you discard your current Destination and begin the trek towards your next one. Once you’ve run out of Destinations, you move to the Little Room at the Top of Stauf Manor to solve one final Puzzler and win the game!
It’s a simple game, but is so much fun, especially for a 7th Guest enthusiast. You don’t have to experience the original computer game to enjoy this one however, as my fiancée, who doesn’t really enjoy horror that much, also loves playing this one! Moving around the house is a joy for fans, and all the hidden passages and rooms are detailed just as they were in the game. Some of the best scenes from the game continued to pop up in my head as I played, and every so often a Puzzler would contain a well placed easter egg, so there’s a lot of excellent nostalgic nods for long time fans. The Puzzlers are great fun as well, and are a mixed bag of difficulty, running the gamut from basic trivia to mind melting riddles. Even when it isn’t your turn, these moments remain engaging as you might have a chance to steal the Puzzler if the current player answers incorrectly, so you’ll be wanting to formulate the solution as well! If you do successfully steal, you’ll get to discard your currently Destination and begin on your next one, an awesome mechanic to ensure the game moves at a fairly quick pace!
The miniatures themselves are fantastically detailed renderings of the six original guests from the game, as well at the infamous Lady in White ghost from the upstairs hallway. These look great on their own, but I think they’d also work well painted, and would love to work on doing so if I ever get the chance. Puzzler, Destination, and Mystery Spell cards are all lovingly detailed with renderings from the game and spooky artwork, and set the creepy tone for the game immediately. Every part of the game is infused with the love you’d expect from Rob Landros, designer of The 7th Guest computer and board game!
Want a balloon, sonny? Nah… Nah, I’m good.
For the most part, we absolutely love this game, and are having a great time playing it beyond the need to do so for the review, but there were a few small things we think could be improved on. The die itself does not denote whether the nine is a six or nine with the standard line marking the bottom. It’s easy to remember once you know that all the numbers are odd, but it still confuses us from time to time. The Little Room at the Top mechanic is a great way to end the game, but in order to win, you only have to solve a standard Puzzler. It can be a bit anticlimactic when you get thrown a softball by the Puzzler deck, but I understand why it is handled this way.
With 300 Puzzlers, we will get a fair amount of play out of The 7th Guest, but it’s slightly disheartening to know we will eventually run out. Luckily, there are plans for expansions to ensure this game won’t be a finite experience! Finally, the Ghost mechanic is bafflingly punitive, but luckily optional, so we do not play with it. This mechanic involves a player becoming possessed and being unable to progress in the game until they pass along the affliction to another player by landing on the same square or room, or getting a random Mystery Spell to release their spirit. The mini is the absolute best one in the box, however, so we always use it as one of the player pieces instead.
Beware The Lady in White!
The 7th Guest: The Board Game is a surprisingly entertaining game, even 27 years after the PC game’s original release. Fans of the game will find a lot of value in the nostalgia present, as well as the ability to revisit Stauf Manor one more time for this new experience! The game is also very approachable and intuitive for those who aren’t long time fans, and just pure fun to play regardless. The game is set to begin shipping to Kickstarter backers soon, so I expect this will be available to the general public shortly! You can pick up your copy here!
Full Disclosure: Trilobyte Games provided a complementary copy of this game.