"Everyone else is dead. YOU are the Final Girl."
Following the success of Hostage Negotiator, Van Ryder Games brings an all-new solo experience. Drawing inspiration from all your favourite horror films, Final Girl is a game of luck and strategy, where you take on the role of a classic horror heroine, pitted against a deadly villain in a race to save your friends and ultimately defeat your foe. Only one of you will be left standing, and it's going to take everything you have to stay alive.
I Want To Play A Game
In terms of mechanics, Final Girl is like an upgraded version of its predecessor, Hostage Negotiator. Each turn, you play cards and spend 'time' to perform actions. These include moving around the game board, searching for items, saving your friends and, if you're brave enough, attacking the killer. But these actions aren't without risk. Whenever you play a card, you must roll dice to determine how successful you are. The more panicked your heroine, the fewer dice you get to roll. If you don't roll any successes, the action might demand additional costs or even fail. On the plus side, multiple successes make the action stronger, giving you a much-needed advantage over your enemy.
Once you've played as many cards as you dare, you get an opportunity to spend leftover 'time' on new cards for the next round. Then the killer activates, hunting victims and hacking away at your health bar. Red 'Terror' cards throw out new problems and unexpected twists. Then it's your turn again, and the game of cat-and-mouse continues until you successfully defeat the villain or you become just another victim.
The game has no round limit. However, when the Terror cards run out, the villain unlocks an Epic Power, and from then, it's a frantic final struggle to deliver the killing blow.
Do You Like Scary Movies?
Final Girl has an unusual design in that the Core Box alone isn't enough to play the game. You'll also need to pick up one of the many Feature Film expansions. Each Feature Film comes with two playable final girls, a unique killer to face, and a location in which to set your horror showdown.
To set up a game, the Feature Film boxes come apart to form the villain and location boards. Each killer provides unique Terror cards to ensure the game is dripping with theme. Hans the Butcher is slow and steady, making grisly meals of slaughtered victims. Geppetto the Puppet Master sends his minions to do his bidding. And the Poltergeist can only be defeated by first finding the frightened Carolyn. Locations too, have their own themed events and items. Mixing different maps and monsters will allow you to create new and exciting stories. With Five Feature films currently available and five more announced, the combinations are near limitless.
We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes
With such amazing theming and replayability (especially if you invest in multiple Feature Films) this game might seem like an auto-buy for anyone who enjoys a solo experience. But the luck of the dice in Final Girl is brutal, and this is something that will inevitably lead to a lot of losses.
While there is a little bit of dice manipulation available, for the most part you will be at the mercy of some very capricious cubes. With just over a 50/50 shot at success on most rolls, you'll find a lot of plans fall apart in Final Girl. Couple that with the multiple random decks of cards, and your game might be over before it begins. I've absolutely experienced a setup where I knew I'd lost before playing my first card.
And while the game has a few mechanics to help in a pinch (the final health tokens grant extra dice and a chance to potentially cheat death), these boons, however, are often too little too late.
What's Blood For If Not For Shedding?
My first experience of Final Girl was mixed. Bad luck and a steep learning curve led to a run of devastating defeats, and the game sat unplayed on my shelf for several months. But then I found a playthrough video online that completely changed my whole perspective!
The player in this video celebrated the bad luck. She rolled with the punches, laughing and groaning at all the terrible card effects and dud dice rolls, letting them add to the story of this poor heroine trying desperately to survive. And when she rolled a Double Success, I was cheering with her! I don't remember if the game ended in a win or a loss. That wasn't the point. It was all about the story.
That's how this game should be played-embracing the struggle that is being a Final Girl.
Final Girl is a labour of love by people who clearly get horror. The gameplay is engaging, and despite the heavy luck element, there is still a lot of strategy to survival. The Feature Film format is hugely innovative, but does present a bigger initial investment, especially for a solo experience. That said, Final Girl can also be a fun co-op, with everyone making decisions for your heroine together.
Above all, the true joy in this game, though, comes from letting go of the strategy and losing yourself in the story. This game perfectly recreates the desperation of horror heroines. To get the most out of it, you need the right mindset. You should expect things to go badly. You should probably expect to perish. But you should never give up! Even against impossible odds, you must keep fighting to the bitter end. It's what Laurie would do. What Nancy would do. What Sidney and Ripley and Julie and Sally would all do!
Now it's your turn. What are you waiting for, huh? What are you waiting for!
Find more expansion packs and the rest of the Final Girl range here.