A Lovecraftian horror game which takes place in two phases. During the first, players must explore an ever-expanding haunted mansion, revealing room tiles as they progress through the house, stumbling upon ancient artifacts and paranormal omens. Each time someone reveals an omen, players get one step closer to "The Haunt".
The Haunt is the second phase of the game, where a scenario is selected from the rulebook based on the state of the current game. What items players have, what rooms have been explored, etc. Often, the scenario will select one player as the "traitor", and she/he will have to leave the room and both sides will be given secret objectives. The traitor often has to perform some task, such as bringing an item to a certain room to summon a monster, while the rest of the players will have to stop the ritual. This is where the game really shines. Alliances fall through, secrets are revealed, and general shenanigans take place as each side attempts to complete their secret objectives, and escape the mansion alive.
Pro Well written storylines lead to very memorable gameplay experiences
Each of the 50 scenarios are unique and have a gripping story that helps pull you into the game. Whether it's demons, monsters, or rituals that need to be completed, each gameplay session will be filled with new stories and new objectives. Thanks to this, each session memorable in its own way as you won't ever be doing the same thing twice.
Pro Exciting tone shift mid-game
In the beginning, players all work together to explore and search the haunted house, but once the betrayers are revealed in the later sections, the game turns you against one another. This complete shift in tone from co-op exploration to frantic survival is often the most exciting part as everyone's goals suddenly change and your friends are trying to kill you.
Pro Near endless replayability
The "Traitor's Tome" rulebook contains a base of 50 "haunt" scenarios to play through, but you can easily create your own or find more online if you'd like to play more unique or varied games. Even when playing the base game, the sheer amount of variety in nightmarish things (monsters, aliens, ghosts, weird portals) the game throws at you is incredible.
Pro Great for getting your friends into gaming
Overall, this is a great game to help get your friends into board games, even if they are bit reluctant. Each game session usually only lasts about 60 minutes, but manages to pack as much fun in as possible. The suspense of exploration combined with the excitement of the big reveal is an addicting mechanic that works well with many groups. Thanks to this short length and incredible way of drawing people in, this makes it a great game to pick up and play with friends on the spur of the moment.
Pro Builds anticipation and suspense
Perhaps one person, or even multiple people are forced to switch to Betrayers in the middle of the game. You never know who is going to be affected, what the revealed horror will be, or when it will happen. Additionally, the Betrayers and Investigators often have objectives which are kept secret from one another, so you never know what your opponent's win condition is until it happens. All of this keeps everyone guessing what's going to happen next and how things will play out.
Con Some Haunts are very unbalanced
Due to how the house is gradually discovered in the first phase of the game, it is possible for either the Betrayer or the Investigators to not have access to the tiles they need to win the game at the start of the second phase. Sometimes the Betrayers will be at a disadvantage, and sometimes the Investigators. It's an issue that effects both sides about the same.
Con The mechanics aren't the best
The mechanics for things like movement and fighting occasionally break down or don't make sense in certain Haunts.
For movement, there are two cases where the mechanics break down. In most cases, it's very obvious where you're supposed to go and it ends up being a simplistic point A to point B course. This takes all the fun or guesswork out of plotting the optimal path. On the other hand, sometimes reaching your goal is impossible because of layouts which makes fulfilling an objective difficult or downright impossible. In both cases, movement feels unexciting.
When fighting, some abilities are rather complex, so time is taken out of the game to explain the mechanics to everyone. This ruins immersion for everyone and it can feel like there is more explaining than actual action.
Con Not appropriate for children
Some of the more complicated scenarios can be quite confusing, and the game is relatively slow paced, so it may not be fun for kids. As it's a horror game, some of the themes (monsters, cannibalism, demonic rituals) are not appropriate for young children.
Con Players may feel disadvantaged at times
There is a huge variety in the horrors revealed, and some work better than others after a large portion of the house has been discovered. Others work best in small, enclosed quarters. For example, a creature suddenly crawling through the walls works best in the small quarters, whereas it wouldn't be so much of a threat in a larger open area. Due to things like this, the scenario can sometimes often feel unfair for one side or the other - either the Betrayer or the Investigators will have a huge disadvantage.
Con Game relies very heavily on the players buying into the theme
This is a game that does best only if the players really buy into the theme of exploring the haunted house. Since cards are read aloud and acted out a bit (creepy voices highly encouraged), events and haunts in particular benefit from this extra bit of immersion. If this seems like a Pro to you, then great, Betrayal is your kind of game, but if not, then it can get stale quickly and its flaws are made even more apparent.