Base Game Review
Play Time (Box): 60mins
Play Time (Goof): 45-90mins
Producer: Repos Productions
Designer: Antoine Bauza
You know what? I really like challenging coops. They’re fun, they’re exciting. They make me feel like we’re a team overcoming some great evil. Completing some necessary task. Pushing to make it one more turn. It makes it fun. And it creates a really intense emotional experience.
Which brings me to Ghost Stories.
This game beats you black and blue. It is brutally hard. And I absolutely love it (I feel like this says something pretty dark about me as a person…)
Look, I’m a pretty big fan of Antoine Bauzer. Games like Takenoko, Tokaido… It doesn’t hurt he once recreated a boomerang video I put up on Instagram playing Ghost Stories (I know I know… I’ve talked about it a lot. BUT COME ON IT’S PRETTY DAMN COOL!)
I thought I’d better disclose all this and answer straight up it won’t affect my review of games made by OUR GREAT LORD AND CREATOR ANTOINE BAUZA… sorry. That happens sometimes. But in all seriousness it’s important for me to keep TGR honest with my reviews.
Having said all this, I adore Ghost Stories.
Have you seen this thing? Take another look at the pictures in this article. The use of colour, the dark forbidding aspect to each of the tiles, the fact each colour has an area it’s protecting and a thematic twists to the ghosts who appear there. As you play you feel this wave of despair as you attempt to take a deep breath and face the onslaught of enemies as you wait for The Big Bad Guy to show his face (he may also appear as a her, which is pretty cool. You do you Wu Feng).
The tiles which make up the village are really unique. And you genuinely feel bad when you have to flip the tile over (indicating the area has been haunted) and see the missing villager who only moments ago was probably playing a vital role in your efforts.
Without carrying on too much longer, a really important aspect of Ghost Stories I think you should know about is the characters feel really unique. Each character has two options to choose from, which means no one feels stuck playing a character they don’t like. They all are incredibly useful, and you’re going to need every advantage you’ve got if you’re going to win this thing (you… you probably won’t win this thing).
Maybe this isn’t an overly negative aspect of Ghost Stories, but I feel the dice (while occasionally helpful) are a little superfluous. I mean… it’s so damn unlikely you’re going to roll what you need to take down any of the enemies without a Tao token. This makes things really difficult, which I’ve already mentioned I like, but it feels almost like it crosses the line between battling up hill, and just getting unfairly slapped around. I never feel it’s worth taking the risk to just roll the die, which I feel means you’re missing out on something.
I spoke above how each of the characters feel unique, each colour has a different aesthetic, each villager is useful in their own way. But a big letdown for me is the fact each monk you play as looks exactly the same as the others but in a different colour. And yeah okay, Ghost Stories wasn’t made in an era where individual moulds were widely used (era in this case being 2008). But I only picked my copy up relatively recently. Not to mention I still have a right to feel a little sad about it. 😢
I’ve taught Ghost Stories a heap to friends, at Boarding School, and even to new gamers. It’s always gone over well. A few people have even bought their own copy after. So I definitely think you should give Ghost Stories a try.
Just don’t expect to win.
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