Arkham Horror is a co-operative board game for 1 to 8 players released by Fantasy Flight Games and retails for around $69.99 but you can probably find it much cheaper on-line. It is based on the Cthulhu Mythos created by the author H. P. Lovecraft. Set in the 1920’s players take the role of one of several investigators who are searching the fictional city of Arkham, Massachusetts for clues, weapons and spells to defeat a horde of monsters and close the multidimensional gates they have opened that will allow a terrible being known as “a Great Old One” to awaken and destroy the earth so you know… no pressure.
If you are already familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos then this game will have plenty of Easter eggs for you including people and places taken directly from some of Lovecraft’s stories, but if you are not familiar with the Mythos it is still a very fun game in the horror genre and one of the the few games that you can actually play alone but of course it is much more fun to sweat the impending end of the world with a few friends.
The game is very extensive and can take a little while to set up and to play. Average set up time is probably 20-30 minutes and a game can take 2 or 3 hours. Obviously set up and play will become quicker the more often you play and the more familiar you get with the rules. The board is much larger then most board games, probably about twice the size of your average Monopoly board, so you will need a little extra room to accommodate.
Players assume the roll of an investigator who has stumbled upon some forbidden knowledge and is therefore one of only a few who know that the world is threatened by a being so vast, powerful and strange that most who learn of it are driven insane. The players can choose from a variety of archetypes each with their own stats and abilities. There are two ways for your player to be taken out of the game, they can be killed or they can be driven insane. So each investigator has a sanity and health rating that vary for example, the Professor has a high sanity but a low health, while the private eye has a higher health but a lower sanity. Each investigator also has specific fighting, moving and searching skills as well as a unique special ability for example the doctor can restore lost health to himself or other players.
At the start of the game “a Great Old One” is chosen at random to threaten the world and a few interdimensional gates are opened around the board to allow access to this world. Naturally a few horrible beasties will spill out of these gates and begin roaming the streets. The board is a map of the city of Arkham and is broken into several districts with 3 or 4 places to visit within each district, like Miskatonic University, the Police Station, The Silver Twilight Lodge and so forth. On your turn you can move your investigator around the board and fight monsters or visit these locations where your investigators will have an encounter that can help you find what you need to close and seal the gates and keep the world safe but if too many gates open or too many monsters are allowed to roam the city the “Great Old One” will awaken and devour you. You can try to fight this powerful being but there is very little chance of success.
I find Arkham Horror to be a very fun and challenging game that requires the players to work together to win which is different from most games where players are slowly eliminated until one player wins outright, in Arkham Horror either all the players win or they all lose. Also since each investigator has specific skills and attributes it has the feel of a role playing game as well. There have been a few expansions made for the game as well to keep the game fresh and add new elements and there are several smart phone apps available for download to use with the game. However, due to its hefty price tag and the length of time it takes to set up and play I would not recommend you purchase the game unless you are a big H. P. Lovecraft fan, are a serious board game enthusiast or at least until you have tried it before at a friends house or at an open gaming session at your local game store.