TTRPG Review: Eldritch Horror
By: Jason Daniel
Well, it's that time of year again, the temperature is dropping, and the leaves are falling. We get to cuddle up with a loved one by the fire...to avoid the existential dread brought on by the unspeakable and unknowable horrors that await us in the dark; maybe that last part is just me. In light of the season today, we are taking a look at a phenomenally fun co-op game where we globe hop and fight back against Lovecraftian horrors.
Eldritch Horror is a co-op game from Fantasy Flight for 1 to 8 players that takes 2-3 hrs to play. The setting is 1926 in a world overrun by monsters and cults trying to awaken elder beings of terrible and magnificent power. There are different Ancient Ones to choose from; even more, if you get the expansions that come with their own unique card sets to use in that playthrough. These sets come with varied Mystery and Research cards that draw you in and paint a picture of the horrible evil you are trying to stop. You are tasked with solving three mysteries before this ancient abomination rises up and devours the world or makes it even harder to vanquish the monsters and the cults to save it.
Using beautifully designed cards, this game transports you to a different world filled with intrigue, danger, and insanity. You gather both magical and mundane items to fight creatures while gaining aid through tests and allies to help us overcome the challenges we face while we try to fight back against the horrors that are coming. As you gather clues to solve the mysteries at the heart of the game, you close portals and defeat monsters, all while racing the clock to stop the emergence of these ancient terrors.
The pulpy characters we get to choose from go beyond their basic trope design to become a unique person, and with varied items and trials, we begin to care more for these people...who will most likely be replaced as they die or go insane. Don’t fret when your character inevitably goes insane or dies; as long as they are not devoured, another player or the new one you draw can retrieve their belongings and any clues they had gathered to further the fight to stave off these eldritch beings.
Since the death of our beloved character is not the end, you as the player must ebb and flow with the changes wrought by a new character to work with the other players to have a chance to stall the coming of the ancient ones. With this game losing the race is not always the end. Yes, some of the evils will outright destroy the world while others only add another layer of difficulty, leaving you a chance, no matter how slim, to save yourselves and the world. This second phase will add another mystery and a few restrictions to the gameplay, primarily the end to bringing in a new character as one dies. To win this game, you need more than just teamwork; you need to balance resources, debt (both financial and otherworldly), the doom track (countdown to the rise of the Eldritch Horror), the repercussions of your choices, and all of this is weighted by the luck of the draw and the skill of your team.
Eldritch Horror is a game of cooperation, intrigue, resource management, and time management that pits you and your friends against mundane and magical horrors. This game brings to life a rich world that draws you in while simultaneously threatening your sanity. It is a must-have for any horror lover as well as players that enjoy co-op gameplay. The closest thing to a shortcoming this game has is how long it takes to play, but for many, myself included, that is a feature and not a bug.