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Chris Clayton
United States
Virginia
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Sanitarium is a very richly-themed card and dice game about waking up in a old-fashioned mental institution and trying to hold onto your sanity long enough to escape. The game starts with a room, one hallway per player, and a dark hallway containing a Shadow. Shadows, if they catch you, force you to make a horror check. If you fail, you get a hallucination, which makes it more difficult for you to escape. You can disbelieve in (remove from the game) hallucinations by discarding items and events, which provide sanity. But items and events are also useful because they give you special abilities, so the benefit of the item or event must be weighed against the benefit of disbelieving in the hallucination.

Each turn begins by placing a card in the sanitarium, thereby populating the sanitarium with rooms, hallways, events, and items. You then roll the three dice, which generally determine how the Shadows move and how many action points you receive that turn. Then you move the Shadows, and then you spend your action points. With action points, you can move, search your current room, expand the sanitarium (draw a card and place it adjacent to your space), or concentrate (spend all your AP to gain 2 sanity). Free actions include picking up items and events and either using them for their effect or discarding them to gain sanity.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this game. It’s easy enough for anyone to pick up in a few minutes, but complex enough to allow for some entertaining and strategic gameplay. Also, there is a feeling of “leveling up” as you gain more items, each of which expands your abilities. I almost found myself gaining abilities too fast; you will have to glance at your cards often to make sure you are using all of your items and events. Beside the standard 2-4 player “every man for himself” mode, there is also a mode just like that except harder, a co-op mode, and a solo mode, all of which are well-designed and feel substantially different.

I can’t think of anything negative about the game, though the instructions are bare-bones at best, and it did take some trial-and-error to suss out some of the details of the gameplay. The components are modest, but functional. The art is interesting, but I wish it were a little darker, befitting the theme. The Shadows, for example, are pleasant, rose-colored swirls, and not the dark and threatening images one would expect. In the end, the theme is gritty and psychological, and the gameplay seems reasonably solid, and that’s why you would buy this game. I am happy with the purchase, and am looking forward to logging in many more hours in the Sanitarium.
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Chris Wood
United States
Darien
Illinois
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mbmbmbmbmb
:thumbsup: for the word suss.
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Chris Clayton
United States
Virginia
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Myoman wrote:
thumbsup for the word suss.


thanks! Microsoft Word doesn't recognize it, but I decided to use it anyway like a boss.
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