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Nightmare Castle» Forums » Reviews

Subject: "How did we even end up here?" A review of Nightmare Castle. rss

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Johan Vorster
Zhubei City
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I picked up Nightmare Castle around Halloween as it seemed to be a fun filler to play with my private students (around grade 3 to 5) at the time. Also, it was around 380 Taiwan Dollar (about $12US) and for that price I would buy just about any game. What I found though, was definitely worth more than the price.

In Nightmare Castle, the players are survivors stuck in a vampire’s castle trying to escape before he returns and devours you. To do so, you and your fellow survivors have to find the four hidden objects that would unlock the front door allowing you to escape. However, after every player’s turn the clock advances one hour closer to midnight and every mistake adds a drop of blood to the clock, bringing him closer to the castle and ultimately, your death.

In short, Nightmare Castle is cooperative “memory game” (you know, find the two same cards and flip them over) played almost like Hanabi but against the clock. The cards depict one of four different objects in black and white: a mask, a candlestick, a key and a book.

On a player’s turn, he/she may secretly look at two cards, then give a clue. The clue giving is what’s lifted straight from Hanabi: point to one or many cards saying what objects they are, or what color they are. To keep this fair, other hints are strongly discouraged (as it would really defeat the object of the game). Then advance the clock one hour.

The second thing a player can do is reveal two cards by flipping them over. If they revealed to identical cards (same object, same color) they are left face up and can immediately have another turn. If they make a mistake, the cards are flipped back over and a blood token is added to the clock.

The game ends in the players’ favor when they have successfully revealed all the cards. However, if 3 (4, or 5 depending on the difficulty decided upon) blood drops are added to the clock, or if the clock has turned twelve the vampire returns and it’s game over.

It’s simple yet surprisingly fun. Just like Hanabi (which was one of the game’s inspirations as noted in the rulebook) there’s a bit more game here than what it initially seems. The game is short but very well balanced and you really have to consider each action very carefully. Even then, there's usually still a bit or risk ("Was that card really black?") We found ourselves discussing at length what the next person’s move should be to minimize the risk of making a mistake. We were also quite surprised how engaged we all were in this little game (and generally how bad I was at remembering what I just saw). Many times it’ll come down to the last turn, where you have to take a shot and hope for the best.

To expand the game further, there are an optional six character roles included. They all have useful one-time use abilities (like not adding a drop of blood to the clock when a mistake was made, or allowing another person to go out of order etc.) The only problem is that we felt like it made the game a little too easy.

The artwork on the cards and tokens are really nice and the cards and components and are made of good quality card. My only complaint is for a simple “family” game, the theme might not be suited. If you're getting this to play with your kids or in a classroom, you may want to think whether or not they're mature enough to handle theme.

Overall, for a few bucks this is a really nice filler that plays in about 15 min and fits in a small carry-on bag. I have Hanabi, but I’d much rather play Nightmare Castle. Two vampiric thumbs up from me for sure!
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Johan Ahlberg
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Great review! The kids love memory so this sounds like a good memory variant with a twist. Also like that its coop

On bgg there is only one version registed and that is "
Nightmare Castle ‐ English/Korean first edition (2015)" i have seen photos of the character cards with both english and korean text. Are both languages included in the box? including english and korean rules?
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