The publisher gifted me a copy of this game; however, I always strive to provide fair, honest opinions.
Game at a Glance
- Hexa House
- Players: 2-6
- Ages: 14+
- Length: 40-90
- Mechanics: Dice-rolling, Cooperative, Traitor, One-vs-many
- Availability (at time of publication): Retail
In an investigation gone awry, a group of people must quickly stumble through a forest searching for a safe haven before something bad happens (spoiler alert – something bad will happen).
In Victim: The Cursed Forest there are six main characters each having different strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Players must work together to use each character’s skills efficiently in order to quickly explore the forest, decode the combination to the bunker, collect helpful items, and upgrade their skills. But after a certain number of rounds (two or three, depending on the player count), the Curse Phase is triggered and the game changes.
After the Curse Phase, one player switches out their character’s board for that of one of six of The Evils. The Evil that possesses the character is randomly chosen, and the players must participate in a skill check to determine who The Evil will master. The game then shifts from a cooperative experience to a one-versus-many game. The Evil character must spend the rest of the game hunting and blocking their Victims from escaping The Cursed Forest.
In addition to the evil lurking in the forest, there is also dangerous terrain to discover, and event cards that have the potential to make the journey more difficult.
Whether players are able to escape The Evil’s clutches and make it to the bunker depends on luck and how effectively they use their characters’ strengths and work together.
Fans of Betrayal at the House on the Hill and similar games may note some similarities in game play. Like Betrayal there is an exploration mechanism where tiles are revealed and laid out as players move around the forest. The map builds as you play which is something I really enjoy in games. Another similarity is the addition of a betrayer, but unlike the Haunt Phase, the Curse Phase comes early and is predictable. The Curse Phase comes very quickly in the game so the Evil player has a lot of time to really explore what their new character is capable of. The downside of that phase activating so quickly is that sometimes players are unable to get much done before they are hunted by Evil, which can make the game quite difficult.
Victim is not necessarily unique in its mechanics but I feel the designer did a very good job integrating the horror survival theme into the game. From the event cards to how the evil creatures behave, it’s obvious that there was a lot of thought put into this story. The game can make the Victims feel lost and frustrated while stumbling through a dark forest, trying to find clues and not injure themselves.
The artwork is gorgeous in this game. The player boards have beautiful anime-style character illustrations. The Evils are well-done and spooky. The ghost in particular is chilling with her broken neck and creepy smile. The miniatures are detailed and are worthy of a paint-job, and the dual-layer player boards are perfect. Overall the looks and components are well-done.
The rulebook is not always clear. It does not hold the readers’ hands quite enough and sometimes there are gaps players are left to fill in on their own. There are several instances where we looked for clarifications and ended up having to go with whatever “felt right.” Victim would benefit from a rulebook re-work, or at the very least an extensive FAQ on Board Game Geek.
Once rules are understood the game moves along fairly quickly and the gameplay itself is not all that complicated. Each turn consists of 2 main actions. There will be pauses for discussion on strategy – how to place the tiles, where to move, and which actions to take really matter as efficiency and self-defence are critical to success in this game. I enjoy the level of interactivity and collaboration it offers. Victim can be played with as few as 2 people although players must take on the roles of multiple characters at that low of a count, which means after the curse phase at least 1 player will control at minimum 3 characters. Personally, I think this game is best with 4 or more players.
Although the gameplay is simple, the game itself can be difficult. It seems very tough to get a win as the victims because of the dependence on luck. Nearly every action in this game is tied to a dice roll. Players will likely end multiple turns early due to poor dice rolls or unlucky tile draws. In a game that requires efficiency, this is terribly punishing. There are a few items and character abilities that help with this somewhat, but this has probably been the biggest cause of frustration in my plays of the game.
Victim can be quite unforgiving in other ways. It is possible for players to become critically injured before the Evil has arrived just from unfortunate rolls when stumbling into a Test Tile and failing at skill checks. Critical injuries dramatically decrease movement and chances for success in the game. And some events require players to lower one of their skills, or decrease their ability to move.
Victim has a high replayablity. Players can choose to mix-and-match any of six different characters, all having asymmetric abilities. Add in six different Evil creatures and an evolving modular game board. I don’t see this getting stale for people too quickly.
Tabletop Mom’s Opinion
Despite the luck-dependence, difficulty, and frustration with the rulebook, I find Victim to be a lot of fun. Normally a game with these issues would be a turn-off for me; however, I find myself wanting to revisit it. That indicates to me that despite some rough edges, there is something special here. Going forward we will be implementing some house rules that smooth out a few of these rough edges while hopefully retaining the the difficulty and suspense. It is atmospheric and spooky and it is apparent that a great level of care was taken by this first-time designer in order to create this game.
This is not a game for people who do not tolerate luck in their games. This is a dice chucker, and an unforgiving one at that. Players will work together to come up with the best way to utilize their talents and items, but ultimately you’re at the mercy of the dice for nearly every action in the game. But if you are a fan of games similar to Betrayal at the House on the Hill and want to have a spooky one vs. all experience with friends, this is a wonderful choice. Just don’t go into the game with high expectations of victory for the humans in this game – the aptly-named Victim is extremely likely to turn most players into just that.