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What is the Yakuza series?

David

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If you’ve been in any tumblr fandoms over the past year or two or hung out on video game forums, you might have wondered why people post the same disco gif every Friday. Or perhaps you’ve seen a very serious looking man singing Karaoke before the whole scene dissolves into a strange sequence with him strumming a ukulele and looking out over the sea. Both of these scenes come from the same game series, and they both capture the feel of the series pretty accurately. The series I’m referring to is Yakuza, known as Ryū ga Gotoku (Like a Dragon) in Japan.

Now, the Yakuza series, if you’ve heard of it all at this point, seems incredibly niche. It is after all a very Japanese game about Japanese gangsters fighting, dancing, and seeming to have incredibly strange adventures. And yet, the games are popular enough to not only get seven main games, but seven different spin off games. Not only that but the newest game in the main series, Yakuza 6, has sold as many copies in the west as in Japan. Clearly, there must be something to this series that helps it do as well as it does. Before we can dive into what exactly makes Yakuza such a fun series and why it does so well, we have to talk about the history of the series first.

History of a Dragon

The first Yakuza game was released on December 8th, 2005 and was spearheaded by Toshihiro Nagoshi. Nagoshi had previously been a designer on the Daytona USA series and a supervisor on first Shenmue game. Speaking to an interviewer during the development of the first Yakuza game, Nagoshi said that his goal with Yakuza was not to focus on violence, but on human drama. The amount of research he and the rest of the development team put into the game was incredible, visiting Tokyo’s red light district and spending time in hostess clubs. They also contacted a novelist known for writing about Yakuza crime dramas, hoping to add realism to the main story. When Sega executives expressed some doubts about the future of the game, Nagoshi even went as far as promising to resign from Sega if the game failed to sell.

This dedication paid off when the game was released in Japan. The game sold over 200,000 thousand copies in 2005 and another 300,000 copies in 2006. With such a massive domestic success, Sega pushed the marketing for a western release hard. They even went as far as to get big name Hollywood actors such as Eliza Dushku and Mark Hamill to provide voice work for the characters. Due to a botched first trailer and some clumsy marketing, the game wound up not selling very well in the United States.

This trend would unfortunately continue as the series progressed, with Yakuza 2 (released in the United States in 2008) selling only 40,000 copies in the west. When Yakuza 4 was released on March 15th, 2011 to little fanfare in the west, the decision was made not to localize the sequel, Yakuza 5. That might have been the end of the series in the west if it wasn’t for the hard work and dedication of the new localization and translation team acquired when Sega bought Atlus in 2014. They managed to get Yakuza 0 localized on January 24, 2017, just in time for the release of Yakuza 6 worldwide the next year. That, combined with the release of Yakuza 0 and remakes of Yakuza 1 and 2 on steam have catapulted the series from incredibly niche to cult classics and popular in their own right. But what exactly makes the series so popular?

Essence of Story

As I mentioned in the previous section, part of the reason the Yakuza series had such a rough start in the west was bad marketing. They tried to market it like a traditional open world crime game in the vein of Grand Theft Auto (GTA). This isn’t a fair comparison to either game, and perhaps the first and strongest point of contrast is the way you navigate the map and interact with civilians. In GTA you are exploring an entire city, and the open world aspect comes from being able to transition from one neighborhood to the other. Your interactions with civilians is also very antagonistic, as you can rob them and generally mistreat them.

To contrast this, in the Yakuza games, the most aggressive thing you can do to civilians is bump into them. You will still get into fights on the street, but the thugs or other Yakuza will generally attack your character first. The map is also far smaller, a couple of city blocks at most. The open world aspect comes from learning and navigating the map, eating at the various small restaurants, and playing the various mini games available. This gentler approach helps the game focus more on the character and the story. It lets the player learn to like the character and get involved with them without having to worry about the string of violence they just committed.

You will be beating up a lot of people though. The combat in the Yakuza series is simple to learn, and incredibly brutal. The basic mechanics of it resemble a brawler. You can attack, block, and throw people. Attacks range from simple kicks to using various weapons such as brass knuckles, katanas, and umbrellas. You can also pick up various objects on the street, such as traffic cones, advertising signs, and bicycles to help you pummel your enemies. Where the combat becomes especially brutal is when you activate one of the games ‘heat moves’, a super strong attack that can knock most normal enemies out of the fight in one hit. Heat moves involve everything from slamming your opponent into a wall and punching him to kicking them off a bridge into the water below. Fortunately, the combat is fairly simple and never really the driving point of the game. That’s reserved for another aspect.

It’s the characters and their motivations that really drive the game, not the combat. By virtue of being seven games long, the Yakuza series has dozens of different characters, but the main protagonist through all of the games released so far is Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima. Kiryu is a fascinating character, remaining incredibly stoic for most of his time on screen. Despite his stoicism, we learn very quickly that Kiryu has a strong sense of honor, one that he will not violate for any reason. It’s this honor that oftentimes serves as one of his greatest weaknesses as well, causing him to make decisions that are against his best interests.

Serving as a counterpoint to Kiryu’s quiet stoicism, Goro Majima is the closest thing the series has to a secondary main character. And where Kiryu is quiet, Majima is loud. Where Kiryu is contemplative, Majima barrels into situations with nothing but a knife and a smile. What’s fascinating about Majima’s character development is that in Yakuza 1, he is an antagonist. As the series progresses, we learn more and more about him until eventually we reach the prequel. During the prequel, we not only play as Majima but through the story we learn why and how he became the grinning maniac we meet in Yakuza 1.

On the left, Majima. On the right, Kiryu.

It’s through the story of Yakuza that we get the most character development for our heroes. But the story is set up in a slightly unusual way compared to most other open world crime games. Unlike GTA, where the side missions are generally along the lines of ‘Chase person A’ or ‘Race to point B’, the side stories in the Yakuza series have small plots of their own.

It’s the strength of the writing, both in the side stories and the main plot, where the Yakuza series really shines. The main plot is incredibly dark, full of betrayal, plot twists and vengeance. The side stories on the other hand vary in tone, but are never what you could call ‘dark.’ They range from things such as ‘Helping a high schooler recover his stolen pants from a very strange mugger.’ to ‘Dress in a mascot costume to help a little girl overcome her fear of surgery’. Perhaps one of the weirdest ones was helping a Steven Spielberg expy film ‘Thriller’ with a Michael Jackson expy. If these seem wildly out of tone with the main plot…they are. And yet the writing manages to bring these differing elements together into a cohesive story.

Part of the way the game ties these elements together is through keeping the substories generally on theme with the rest of the game. In Yakuza 6 for example, part of the main plot focuses on how Kiryu is almost fifty years old now and a new generation of Yakuza don’t respect the old ways. The side stories in this specific game often involve Kiryu being baffled by modern technology. A particularly memorable one has him chasing a roomba across the streets of Tokyo. Despite this veneer of comedy, the side stories help maintain the theme: Kiryu is an old man now, and he knows it.

These side stories also do the lion’s share of work fleshing out the protagonists. If all we had was the main plot, we would never know how human Kiryu and Majima can be. How Kiryu enjoys racing model cars, and how much Majima respects women. The last advantage of  the wildly differing tone of the side stories is that it gives the player a chance to breathe and recover from some of the heavy drama of the main plot. I remember during one of my play sessions of Yakuza 0, I had just finished a substory where Kiryu helps teach a dominatrix how to be more dominant. I then started a main plot quest, which ended with a cutscene that rivaled the final scene in Chinatown for cynicism. To cool down from that, I then went to sing karaoke, race toy cars, and play darts.

Yes, darts. One of the other things that sets Yakuza apart from other open world games is the sheer variety of stuff you can do. There’s almost too much stuff, as you can easily get distracted by everything you can do. And each minigame is in-depth enough that it could easily be a game on it’s own. There’s Karaoke, darts, pool, batting cages, blackjack, poker, Shogi, Mahjong, baccarat, and (in Yakuza 0) running a cabaret club. These minigames not only help break up the game play, but can provide even more character development. The karaoke in particular is full of character moments if you are aware of what’s going on in the plot and look up the lyrics to the songs they choose to sing.

Pictured: Important character development.

You’re never alone…as long as you remember these Yakuza

Hopefully by this point you’re at least a little curious to see what a Yakuza game is about. And perhaps you’re wondering which game is the best place to start. Honestly, you really can’t go wrong with most of the games, as the stories are generally self-contained. If you want the best experience though, you will want to start with either Yakuza 0 or the re-make of the first game, Yakuza Kiwami. Either option is a good jumping in point for the series although there is some debate among fans about which order you should play the games in. One side argues for starting with Kiwami and following the games in release order while the other argues for starting with Yakuza 0 and going in numeric order.

I would personally recommend starting with Yakuza 0, then moving on to Kiwami 1 and 2. This way you get the backstories of all the important players first and then move on to their first adventures. All three of the games I mentioned are available on Steam, so getting them is a simple process. As for Yakuza 3? Sega already made a remastered version available in Japan back in August. With a little luck, hopefully it will come to the west sooner rather than later. No matter where you start, I would strongly urge you to give this niche little series a try.


Images Courtesy of Sega

David is a dental hygienist by day, gamer by night. He enjoys making character sheets when bored, and re-reading the same book for the twentieth time.

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Overwatch in a nutshell

Oni

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How do I talk about a game that should have been dead about a year ago, but is still going strong? If you didn’t get that, the game I am talking about is Overwatch. A game that is strictly online, which means no story mode to find out the lore behind this game. If you want to learn about the lore, then join the line buddy. Players have to wait months til another origin short comes out about their favorite hero, which makes sense if you want to keep an online game alive. Recently a new “hero” has been announced called Ashe, and we got a bunch of clues about who she is from a McCree short.

Heroes

Even though Overwatch came out in 2016, they are still releasing new heroes. According to a video by Your Overwatch, there are 5 new heroes coming out within the next couple of months. Once a new hero comes out, there is a good week or so before they are available to play. That means you have little time to master this new hero before they are out in comp. If you didn’t notice the error in my previous sentence then I will repeat it: a hero that is made to counter certain heroes. Do I believe this statement? Of course not, because Overwatch is about skill and luck at the same time. You need enough skill to be able to counter your counters with any hero, but you also need luck in order to group with a team that also has enough skill to carry its own weight.

Comp

The lowest ELO I have gone down to is bronze in Overwatch competitive and that is the lowest you can go. I had the worst luck in getting grouped with players that didn’t use mics. Now using mics doesn’t automatically guarantee a win, but it increases the chances. It is better to try and formulate a plan to win against your enemy, than to try and blindly attempt to understand your teammates actions. So, if you do decide to play competitive mode, then please try to talk to your teammates.

So, when do you believe that people will stop playing Overwatch? In my opinion, I believe the game is already dying, but you have players like me that come back to the game after months of quitting, just to see if it became a little less toxic. I quit because I was tired of the toxic players that kept throwing games and leaving so that you were missing a teammate. Something that Overwatch needs to work on the most is leavers. If you never played this game, then you wouldn’t see the problem with someone leaving, because you would get a new teammate right away. No, that would be common sense and common sense doesn’t work in Overwatch.

Toxicity

If they leave in the first 30 seconds to a minute, then the game is cancelled and no one loses anything, but any later than that then you have to hope that the player comes back. Leavers don’t make sense, because they still receive a loss from leaving, but there is the rare exception where someone just disconnects. If they do, then they have a chance to come back and help out the team. That is the only way you get the blank spot in your team filled.

Lifeline

The game will die when they finish releasing heroes and when we get the origin and shorts for every hero in the game. Then again, they are releasing new heroes every few months, so that day won’t be anytime soon. Blizzard makes money from the ever-growing Overwatch league and from the new players that joined because of sales and new heroes. I only bought the game because some friends wanted to play with me. The sad thing is, that I haven’t played with them since I bought the game because we have different play styles. I am a support main and I can’t play with someone that charges into a battle and doesn’t expect to protect the healer that is keeping them alive.

Should you buy?

So, what is my take on this game? I actually hate it more than anything else, and I wouldn’t exactly recommend it to others. It is a fun game to play with friends, but once you start playing with randoms, that is when the stress happens. I am not in a high ELO and I will take a quick break until next placements just so I can get my third gold weapon. The main reason we play comp is to say we have a high standing and to also say that we have a gold weapon for this hero, so praise us.

So, buy a mic, don’t get too stressed and remember unless you are on PC—you aren’t going to find yourself in the Overwatch league.

Hopefully you enjoyed  this review. Comment to let me know what game you want me to review next, and I’ll see if I can play it!


Image courtesy of Blizzard

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Let’s Unpack This: Star Realms: Frontier Unboxing

Dan

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Also, say hello to our new video wing of the Fandomentals over on YouTube, Fanfinity!

In this video, I’m taking a look at White Wizard’s newest addition to their Star Realms series of deckbuilding games, out now at your local game shop.


Image courtesy of White Wizard

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Tabletop Terror: The Fandomentals Guide To Halloween Gaming

Dan

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The spooky times are upon us folks. In just a couple days the spirits of the night will take hold, and the world will descend yet again into the darkness and horror that is All Hallow’s Eve. And for most of us, that means Halloween Parties. Maybe you’re hosting one, or maybe you’re just attending one.  It’s always good to have board games ready for a party, to bring people together and have some fun that doesn’t require cramming around a screen. But how do you please everyone at your party? If one guest only likes fun and campy spooks, while another is in to Halloween for the guts and gore, you may find yourself struggling to select games to bring to the dinner table this year. But fear not! Games writers Cat and Dan have teamed up to bring you a curated list of games, each selected especially for some of the most troublesome ghoulies who might haunt your Halloween fête.

Best Game To Play With Your High Goth Friend

They’re the first to arrive and the last to leave. This is their time of year, and they have gone all out. White face paint, black clothes, a frilly shirt. This is standard for them year round, but there’s something different about them come Halloween. There’s a spring in their step, a twirl to their parasol, and a twinkle in their eyeliner. They will accept only the darkest and most dramatic activities this Halloween.

Our Recommendation: Fury of Dracula

Fury of Dracula has been a classic staple of horror gaming since it debuted in 1987. The 2006 reboot, and its 2015 revision, have done nothing but increase its popularity. Based on, what else, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the game places players right into the gothic world of Victorian Europe. One player takes on the role of the infamous Count, and the other becomes one of his hunters: Jonathan Harker, Lord Godalming, Dr. John Seward, and Mina Harker.

The game is largely one of deduction, with the hunters using clues and signs to follow Count Dracula as a he carves a bloody swath through the continent. You gather items, defeat the minions of Dracula, and contend with the Count himself as he misleads, obfuscates, and lies as only he can to throw you off the scent. The game ends when Drac or the hunters bite it, he completes his dark mastery of Europe, spreads his vampiric curse, and survives. Winning requires smarts, cunning, and a flare for the dramatic even Dracula could appreciate. In the novel, Dracula was killed and the world freed from his dark presence. Will the same happen to you?

Fury of Dracula is available from WizKids, with the newest edition available for pre-order on Amazon.

Best Game To Play With Your “Psychic” Friend

They “knew” you were going to have a party, after you made the Facebook event, and they “knew” you needed more napkins, even though you had plenty and would have preferred they bring more snacks. They keep you updated on your horoscope, carry a tarot deck in a belt holster, and will almost certainly get very drunk and predict someone’s doom tonight. You should make sure the game you pick ensures that the doomed person won’t be you.

Our Recommendation: Mysterium

Our choice of Mysterium should be no surprise to board game fans, as the game of guessing and ghosts is already considered a classic by many despite its youth. One player in this game plays as the ghost of a murdered servant and the rest are mediums summoned to their master’s house to find out who did the deed. Think of it as a cooperative Clue, with someone playing as Mr. Boddy. The ghost, who is otherwise silent, hands out clues to the mediums to help them guess who the killer was and where and how they did it. If they can figure it out, and agree on their choice, in time, then the ghost will be set free to enjoy his eternal rest. If they can’t? They’re doomed to roam the halls forevermore.

Mysterium is available at most game shops as well as on Amazon, where it retails for $44.90.  The digital version is available from Asmodee Digital on Steam and most mobile devices. 

Best Game To Play With The Scooby-Doo Fan

They may not be as into the guts and gore as other people, and they may have a thing for the campier side of horror, but this guest is one of the most enthusiastic year in and year out. They make great sandwiches, kick butt at charades, and rock a mean ascot. As well, they’ve probably got the best costume at the party (though your goth friend will fight them over it).  They’ll want a game that isn’t too spooky, one that captures all the fun and silliness they love about the holiday.

Our Recommendation: Betrayal At House On The Hill

You can’t beat Betrayal for sheer classic Halloween flavor. Taking the roles of stock horror film characters like “The Professor” or “The Little Girl,” players enter a creepy old mansion that you don’t know the layout of until you begin to explore it. All sorts of strange things can happen as the house grows, from ballrooms in the basement to a balcony-adjacent kitchen. Players gather items, deal with mystical events, or are visited by dark omens that presage the dark presence in this house. When enough omens are drawn, or the players are highly unlucky, the game shifts and becomes a new challenge as they race to defeat a new and powerful enemy.

This “Haunt” changes based on where the Haunt was triggered and by what omen, and you will almost never get the same one twice. They range from a mass shrinking to an outbreak of werewolves to a full on demonic summoning, and often require a player to turn traitor and kill, transform, or delay their former friends as they try to escape. It’s a great game with infinite replay-ability and is just cartoony enough to keep it from truly scaring anybody. The 2016 Widow’s Walk expansion adds to the potential with all sorts of new monsters, haunts, and rooms for you to explore.

Betrayal At The House On The Hill and its Widow’s Walk expansion are available from Avalon Hill, at most game shops and on Amazon.

Best Game To Play With Your Gamemaster

They’re still miffed they had to move your session this week for the party, but they’ll get over it when they find the snack table (a DM’s one weakness). You’ll have to deal with them turning their nose up at games that allow for “structured” play, or stories that are “already written.” How do you please the lover of RPG’s when you only have one night to play?

Our Recommendation: Vampire The Masquerade 5e

It’s difficult to pull off pen-and-paper in a one time setting, but we at the Fandomentals are firm believers in the power of one-shots to capture all the fun of a good tabletop session without the long term commitment. And one of the best games for that, on Halloween or in general, is White Wolf’s newest edition of their classic Vampire the Masquerade. As Cat covered in her review, the new edition goes along way to update the game and improve its accessibility for a new generation. At its core a heavily story and character-driven game, Vampire doesn’t require quite as much minute number crunching other games do. It also fits quite well with Halloween, allowing you to craft a dramatic tale of horror and tragedy around one of the most classic monsters of all time. The only real question is, which clan are you going to be?

Vampire the Masquerade: 5th Ed. is available at most local game shops, from World of Darkness, and on Amazon, where the physical book retails for $42.95.  And keep an eye out, as the Camarilla and Chicago by Night books will be releasing soon to supplement your vampiric experience.

Best Game To Play With The Bookworm

They showed up dressed as someone from the 19th century, and are offended when nobody gets it. It’s not their fault nobody’s read the marginalia of Poe. They can tell you which books every horror movie is ripping off of, and they hold a grudging respect for Stephen King (even if, they say, he hasn’t been good since he wrote IT). They want a game that scratches their love of literature, while keeping things as bone chillingly spooky as their favorite dark novels.

Our Recommendation: Masque of The Red Death

One of our favorite games coming out of GenCon this year, Masque is a truly unique experience in the board game world. The game is a mix of strategy, deduction, and planning as you attend the famous ball given by Prince Prospero at the locked Abbey. Just as in the story, which is helpfully printed in the rules, players must gain favor with the Duke even as the plague known as the Red Death ravages the countryside. Fritter your time away with idle gossip and petty insults while secretly plotting your own survival. When the ebony clock strikes midnight, your only hope for survival is your ability to remember. It’s got beautiful art from Gris Grimley that makes even the box look like a Halloween decoration, and the gloomily colorful board and Ebony Clock standee make a bold statement at any party. Hopefully yours ends up better than Prospero’s did…

Masque of the Red Death is available from IDW Games at your local games shop as well as on Amazon, where it retails for $59.99

Best Game To Play With The Horror Film Snob

They’ve already gotten into three arguments with the Bookworm over the IT adaptations, and they brought a stack of beat up VHS’s in lieu of the bean dip you asked for. You don’t even OWN a VHS player. Nobody has heard of any of the movie’s they’ve brought, and you’re scared that one of them may end up being a snuff film. Any film you suggest is derided as pedestrian, cliched, and, worst of all, not scary. So how do you make them happy at the tabletop?

Our Recommendation: YOU Are The Maniac!

He’ll already be itching to play this based on the box, a beautifully designed thing built to look and feel exactly like the old VHS’s so many classic slasher flicks came in. It even has the wear and tear that signifies that yes, this is an original. But inside is not B-grade scares and badly done makeup. Instead, YOU Are The Maniac contains a well paced strategy card game that allows players to step into the shoes of their favorite slasher villains. Played across three “films,” you compete to rack up the highest kill count among all the slashers in the game. Chasing down victims, acting out scenes with the Maniac deck, handling the various plot twists, and killing the Final Girl at the end of the movie; it’s all in a days work for the killers in this game. It’s fun and darkly hilarious, working well as a fast-paced party game you could even play while watching one of the movies that inspired it!

YOU Are The Maniac! is published by Counter Culture Cards and can be purchased on their website for $24.95

Best Game To Play With The History Geek

They know the complete history of Halloween and will happily spend all night telling you exactly why and how candy corn came to be. They’ve been to Salem dozens of times, and complains that the rituals in Hocus Pocus aren’t historical accurate. They obsessively find old newspaper clippings from one hundred years ago to send you. They want a game that’s fun, scary, and has well sourced historical backing, dang it!

Our Recommendation: Salem 1692

Salem:1692 is a fantastic replacement or addition to your rotation of deduction games that you’ve been playing for years. Unlike standbys like One Night Ultimate Werewolf or Are You A Werewolf, Salem grounds itself in the real Salem Witch Trials while maintaining all the suspicion and plotting we love. As Dan said in his reviewSalem is a well researched and fun game that is visually stunning to boot, and you can read more about it in the previously linked review. Your history snob friend will never expect you to pull the next game straight out of the bookshelf!

Salem:1692 is published by Facade Games, and can be bought on their site for $24.99

Best Game To Play With That Guy Who Takes RISK Way Too Seriously

There’s a good chance this person is also your Gamemaster, and they’re certainly in your group, but they aren’t in it for the roleplay. No, this guest wants to prove that they are so much smarter than anyone else at the table. They have probably seen Patton too many times, and an entire wall of their apartment is covered in maps. But there isn’t really anything scary about Risk or Stratego (except for their length), so how do you make the tabletop general happy?

Our Recommendation: Eschaton

While the dark fantasy setting of Eschaton doesn’t at first seem to have the trappings of Halloween, the eldritch plot and beautifully grotesque art make it fit right in with its more seasonal friends. Taking on the role of a cult leader in a world on the brink of Apocalypse, players must battle for territory and the favor of the Dark One as they recruit men and monsters into their unholy ranks. Only one cult can walk at the side of the Dark One when the Eschaton comes, will it be you?

Eschaton and its expansion Sigils of Ruin are published by Archon Games and can be bought on their site, where they retail for $60.00 and $30.00, respectively.

Best Game To Play With Your Hungry Friend

This guest will not leave the snack table, and always fills a plate when the party moves away from it for any reason. They’ll probably suggest a Taco Bell run sometime around midnight. Yet they always seem hungry, famished even. Are they looking at your skull? Why do they keep trying to steal your hat? Why are they moaning like that? Wait, where’d the bookworm go? Do you smell blood?

Our Recommendation: Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game

There are A LOT of zombie games out there, and it was really hard to narrow it down. But there’s only one game that captures the full experience of the living dead, and that’s Flying Frog’s Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game. I mean c’mon, it’s in the title! Now celebrating ten years in the gaming world, Last Night on Earth is as much an ode to Romero and his ilk as YOU Are The Maniac is to Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter.

Playing as zombie movie cliches like high school kids, scientists, teachers, and more, most players must navigate the dangers of a zombie apocalypse. One or two players, however, get to play as the brain-hungry zombies. Each playable scenario is different, whether you’re rescuing a fallen friend, trying to escape, or just trying to “not die,” it’s easily re-playable. And with ten years under its belt, its had a lot of time to come out with expansions and supplements (22 as of this writing), including a spin-off Timber Peak and a spin on the cliche alien movie with Invasion from Outer Space: The Martian Game. Load the shotgun, keep your cool, and always remember to double-tap.

Last Night On Earth: The Zombie Game and its expansions are published by Flying Frog Productions and are available at most retailers as well as Amazon, where the base game retails for $59.99.

Best Game To Play With The Pescetarian

This guest really likes fish. They haven’t just cut meat out of their diet, they’ve cut nearly everything that else isn’t aquatic from their diet as well. You can’t get over the strange and salty smell that comes off of them, though, or how cold and clammy their hands always are. Sometimes you catch them mumbling to themselves in a strange language they keep insisting is just Polish. They’re quiet and a little odd, but they make great sashimi, so it’d be a shame not to have a game that caters to their unique self.

Our Recommendation: Pandemic: Reign of Cthulu

A spin-off of the popular Pandemic series of worldwide disease simulator games, Reign of Cthulu replaces the science and medicine with chaos and madness. Players take on the role of a 1920’s investigator working to stop the return of the Old Ones from their cosmic prison. They must defeat monsters, gather items, and seal the portals before the most ancient of evils can bring doom to the world. It’s a mix of strategy and teamwork as you and your fellow investigators move through classic towns like Innsmouth and Dunwich in search of an end to the evil. But beware, there are things man was not meant to see, and one’s mind does have a tendency to get lost in the darkness.

Pandemic: Reign of Cthulu is published by Z-Man games and can be bought from their website for $49.99, as well as most retailers.

There you have it! Ten games we guarantee to spook and surprise, entertain, and ennervate in equal measure. Now all that’s left for you to do is finish your costume…but wait…is someone early? Better get the door, that growling sounds awfully impatient.

What games do you like to play for Halloween? Did we leave any off that we shouldn’t have? Sound off below!


Images Courtesy of Wizkids, Libellud, Avalon Hill, White Wolf Publishing, IDW Games, Golden Bell Studios, Facade Games, Archon Games, Flying Frog Productions, and Z-Man Games.

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