Ghost Castle is a game from Buffalo Games & Puzzles where 2-4 players compete to get their team of ghost hunters out of the house first. On their turn, players will roll the die and move one of their two ghost hunters along the board. However, if they roll a ghost, they must face the wrath of Sir Spooksalot. There’s a ghost at the top of the castle containing a metal ball; after you press the button and release the ball, it will fall and trigger one of four different traps. Any ghost hunter in the danger zone for that trap must move backwards until they reach a safe space. The player who gets both of their ghost hunters out of the house first wins.
The Ghost Castle Box
The box is great. Not only does everything fit in reasonably well, it’s actually a part of the game board. The downside is that this is a game with a lot of assembly required. It’s also a 3-dimensional board, and you’re expected to get up and move around as you play. You also have to make sure your assembly is solid, otherwise the ball will get stuck and not set off traps properly.
The designs of the player characters are mostly pretty good, but two are tasteless Romani stereotypes. The particular stereotype of Romani people as fortune tellers, who are often portrayed as swindlers at best and sinister at worst, has appeared across horror media for decades and continues to negatively affect the Romani people to this day. To learn more about the Romani people and why these stereotypes are harmful, I recommend the study Romani Realities in the United States: Breaking the Silence, Challenging the Stereotypes.
Ghost Castle is primarily targeted at children, and it seems like a great way to keep them entertained. The assembly could make for a small activity itself, and the simple rules with quick turn cycles keep players engaged. The fact that the board is 3D and encourages players to get up and move around is perfect for kids. Because each player is meant to control 2 characters, you could easily house-rule to expand the player count up to 8. The “gotcha!” nature of the ghost means no guaranteed victories; someone could always be set back by a trap or get stuck at the exit. This is a bit of a double-edged sword: players stay engaged because they could always make a last-minute comeback, but players who were in the lead but suddenly lost might feel a bit salty. Kids especially might get pretty upset by that.
Many of the details that make Ghost Castle a good game for children also give it decent potential to be a good party game. There was a unanimous consensus among the rest of my adult playgroup that this game would be great if you added alcohol and turned it into some kind of drinking game. However, if your party crowd is used to playing meatier board games, the game’s simplicity can be a flaw rather than a feature. You may want to consider house rules to add extra complexity.
The end of the game is frustrating. You must roll exactly to land on the escape space; if you roll over the number of spaces you need you do nothing. And keep in mind, you have to do that twice. This can create some fun extra tension where it still feels like anybody’s game even if someone made it to the end first, but it often feels like it drags the game out a bit too much.
Ghost Castle Verdict
Ghost Castle takes a bit of effort to get going due to assembly requirements, and the rules are a bit basic, but with the right people and the right atmosphere it can be a great time. I give Ghost Castle 3.5 out of 5 cthulhus. You can check it out at the Amazon link below, but remember that we are an Amazon Affiliate and if you purchase anything using the links provided we will receive some $ back.(3.5 / 5)