You'll have to excuse the grainy Board's Eye View 360 but we've been following the guidance of designers Team Identity and have played this game only illuminated by candlelight. It's made reading the text on the cards considerably harder, but it's added to the atmosphere. Moreover, the superdark 360 also means we're not in danger of giving away any visual spoilers.
Publishers Ideal and Identity Games International are very keen to avoid spoilers that will detract from your experience of playing this game. Some of the contents of the box are concealed, and with a warning not to peek, and you're under strict instructions only to read any of the Nightmare cards - used to respond to players' actions - when you are at particular locations in your in-game ancestral home.
The premise is that you are cousins who were orphaned 15 years earlier when all your parents were burnt alive in a fire. You've been summoned back by another cousin, Johnny, who is seeking your help in finally solving the murders. When you arrive, however, Johnny is nowhere to be found...
This is an ostensibly co-operative game specifically designed for five players. Tho' there are special rules to allow it to be adapted to play with just four, you cannot player with any fewer. It's played with a companion app to be run on a tablet or computer. The app adds further atmosphere and acts as an action timer: you click a button every time the group decide on an action (eg: search a corner of the room - taking the relevant card) and that moves the time on. Periodically, the timer on the app triggers further events.
To get the most out of this Crafton Mansion adventure, you need to treat it as a self-contained two-hour role-playing game (RPG) and throw yourself into the role of the specific cousin you pick or are assigned to at the start of play. You share open information but you also have a 'secret' briefing that you keep to yourself. You decide collectively on what actions to take (rooms to move to; corners to search) but against the constant reminder that the number of actions you can take is 'limited' - tho' the extent of this limit is never specified. Through the course of the game, your collective exploration triggers previously repressed memories among the players (cards that reveal events from the past).
You'll find a growing tension as the game progresses; added to by the periodic requirement placed on all players to don the supplied blindfolds. During these blindfold moments - representing power blackouts in the mansion - one of the group will be given a specific task to carry out unseen by the others...
Tho' there's a mystery to solve, don't expect to actually solve it, but you should play Nightmare Horror Adventures for the experience rather than necessarily as a detective game. And tho' it's not a game you can replay with the same people, you can at least reset the game so that it can be enjoyed by another completely different group of players. Will they fare any better than you did?