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Jaws is a board game from Prospero Hall & Ravensburger (the same company behind Horrified) based on the 1975 classic film. Across two acts, up to three players control Quint, Hooper, and Chief Brody as they work to take down one other player- the one who controls the deadly shark.

The Jaws Board Game box
The Jaws Board Game box


The Jaw's board game components laid out on a wooden table.
The various components

The game comes with a double sided game board, 4 decks of cards, 4 character boards, 4 board clips, 6 character movers, 3 dice, a pad of paper for the shark, 8 boat tiles, a rulebook, and 40 assorted tokens. Of the 40 tokens, 16 are swimmers, 8 are barrels, 6 are resurface tokens, 4 are shark power tokens, 3 are targets, 1 fish finder, 1 binoculars, and 1 beach closing token.  The four decks are Amity Event cards, Shark Ability cards, Crew Gear cards, and Resurface cards.

Two of the character movers are boats, one for Quint and one for Hooper. They are unnecessary but delightful.

The components inside of the box. The cards fit loosely in the bottom left compartments, everything else besides the character boards fits in the bottom right compartment, and the character boards sit alone in the large top compartment.
The components inside the box, without the board and rulebook
All of the components, including the board and rulebook, inside the box. There is a considerable gap between the edge of the board and the edge of the box.
All components, including rule book and game board, inside the box

I don’t fully understand the inside of the box. The insert is nice but the division of space is strange. There are three compartments, but aside from the cards and the character boards, everything can fit in one of the smaller compartments. Maybe they expect you to divide the tokens up more? The folded game board is just slightly smaller than the box, and it doesn’t look like the game needs that extra space. I think Ravensburger might just have a standard game box size that they use for all games, since my copies of other Ravensburger games are about the same size. Even so, it still feels like they didn’t use the space efficiently.

Act One Gameplay

In act one, the shark is roaming the waters of Amity Island, trying to eat as many swimmers as possible, while Quint, Hopper, and Chief Brody are trying to find the shark. The rounds move in phases. In phase 1, players draw a card from the Amity Event deck, which tells them how many swimmers to place and at which beaches, along with any other special effects. Phase 2 is the shark’s turn. The shark player may take up to three actions in secret, marking their movements from shore to shore on their notepad, and eating swimmers along the way. In phase 3, Quint, Hooper, and Brody go on the hunt. Each character plays differently. Chief Brody moves around on the island, closing beaches and using his binoculars to try and spot the shark. He also ferries barrels from the store to the docks, where they can be picked up by Quint and Hooper. Quint sails around the island in his boat, trying to launch barrels at the shark. If he guesses correctly and hits the shark, the barrel attaches. If he’s wrong, the barrel stays in the water as a motion detector. When the shark has two barrels attached to them, the game moves into act two. Hooper can’t use the barrels, but he can pass them off to Quint. He can use his fish finder to see if the shark is nearby, and his boat is faster than Quint’s so he can move two spaces for the price of one.

The Jaws board game ste up for act one.
Setup for Act One

Act Two Gameplay

In act two, Quint, Hooper, and Brody are on the boat fighting the shark. After flipping the board and setting it up for act two, the crew and the shark are given a number of gear and ability cards based on how well the shark did in act one. First, the players reveal three resurface cards, each with a possible location for the shark to strike. Then the shark chooses where to atack. Next, the crew members prepare to fight, choosing what to attack the shark with and where the shark might be. Then the shark reveals their choice and combat begins. The crew attacks first, then the shark. The shark can attack either the boat or a crew member who is in the water. Each boat space has a certain amount of damage it can take before it is damaged or destroyed. When it is damaged or destroyed, all crew members on that space are knocked off of the boat. The shark gets to roll a small bonus attack against any nearby crew members in the water, and then the next round begins. The game is over when either the shark is dead, all of the crew members are dead, or the boat is completely destroyed.

The Jaws board game set up for act two.
Setup for Act Two, except the shark’s board is flipped the wrong way and I didn’t notice until it was too late


The game is very well balanced, partly because there will always be three shark hunters versus one shark, whether you’re only playing with the minimum of two or maximum of four players. All the games we played felt very close. However, the game can feel overwhelming to new players, since there are a lot of steps and things to keep track of.

The theme is implemented very well; the mechanics reflect the film and the attention to detail is great. All of the Amity event cards have art of moments from the film, along with flavor text with quotes from the film. Even the game’s insert is themed; it’s the same pattern as the mayor’s suit in the scene where Brody and Hooper are trying to convince him to close the beaches for the fourth of July weekend.

The mayor of Amity angrily points at a billboard that has been vandalized with a drawing of a shark's fin. Brody and Hooper listen in exasperation.
Honestly, it’s a look. I’d wear it.

If you don’t have time to play both acts, or if the gameplay of one act is more fun to you than the other, the game includes rules for playing each act as a standalone game. These are less necessary for act one than act two. The rules for act one are just “end the game sooner,” but the rules for act two explain how to set it up without a previous act to work from.


I give this game five out of five cthulhus. It’s a fun game that nails its theme perfectly. If you’re a fan of the film, and like board games, you should definitely give it a try. You can check it out at the Amazon links below, but remember that we are an Amazon affiliate and if you buy anything from those links we will get some $ back. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones (2019), a Game Review

Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones (2019) is a tactical role-playing video game developed by Cultic Games, evoking Lovecraftian horror.



Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones (2019) is a tactical role-playing video game developed by Cultic Games, evoking Lovecraftian and cosmic horror. Published by Fulqrum Publishing, this game is available through Linux, macOS, and Windows. This review will cover the $19.99 Steam release.

The Great Old Ones have awakened, exiling Arkham after the events of Black Day. Design your character and face the abominations of Arkham. Explore the 1920s through a Lovecraftian aesthetic as you unravel the secrets that plague Arkham, facing unknowable cosmic horror and malicious abominations.

The eye icon with tentacles reads Stygian: Reign of the Old Gods. To the left hand side is a woman in a 1920s dress. To the right is a blue abomination.
Stygian Promotional Art

What I Like Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones

The depth of character creation starts the game off on the right foot. While appearance has various options, the game provides greater variety in motives, age, and origins, adding different gameplay elements. For example, age reflects lived experience and physical competency. The younger your character, the less experienced but more physically capable. This dynamic requires trial and error to find the best choice for you.

The paper cutout art provides a unique interpretation of a familiar (but stylish) Lovecraftian aesthetic. While not the most haunting execution of the Lovecraftian, it still manages to unsettle and unnerve while maintaining visual interest. That said, if the style doesn’t suit the player’s taste, Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones might leave that player wanting.

While I find the story engaging and the mysteries worth exploring, there’s a massive caveat to that claim. Regardless, if you fancy the Lovecraftian, few care as deeply and express as much knowledge of the genre as Cultic Games in this installment. This love and knowledge shines through in the often subtle allusions and references to the expanded universe. It may earn its place as the most Lovecraftian game out there.


The characters vary in interest and likability, but there’s usually something about them to add to the overall mystery. Naturally, this remains most evident in the companions that accompany the player on their journey.

In terms of horror, Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones achieves notable success. Despite the subjective points of aesthetics, the game brings out the most unsettling and uncomfortable elements of Lovecraftian and cosmic horror.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tropes, Triggers, and Considerations

With an understanding of the Lovecraftian comes the question of how to deal with racism. Most properties try to remove this context, but Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones recognizes the text and era (the 1920s) with caricatures such as a lunatic in blackface. I won’t say it fully explores these toxic elements, but it’s not painted in a positive light.

Insanity and mental illness play a large role in the mechanics of the game, such as becoming a key component of casting spells. Loosely related, drug addiction and usage are mechanics with varying degrees of necessity depending on your build.

If these are deal breakers, perhaps give Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones a skip.

Several listed classes on the left hand side. At the center of the screen shows the Explorer class with their dog.
Stygian Character Selection

What I Dislike about Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones

In terms of story, this game is unfinished, leaving many plots, quests, and arcs with unsatisfying cliffhangers. My understanding is that Cultic Games planned to finish the game, but money ran out, and the focus shifted to an upcoming prequel. I imagine the goal is to use this new game to support a continuation. But that doesn’t change the unfinished state of Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones. The beginning and middle remain filled with content, but the final act (loosely stated) falls monstrously short.

While this unfinished state mostly affects content, I did run into game-breaking bugs. From my understanding, these bugs completely hinder progress. Most are avoidable, but some are unlucky draws.


It’s these points that make this a challenge to recommend, requiring the potential player’s careful consideration.

Final Thoughts

Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones accomplishes what many games fail, bringing to life the Lovecraftian. Unfortunately, this game falls short at the end and leaves game-breaking bugs as potential deterrents for full enjoyment. If what you read above entices you, it may be worth the investment. However, it’s unfair to recommend this game within its compromised state.
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

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Ashen (2018), a Game Review

Ashen (2018) is a souls-like action RPG developed by A44 and published by Annapurna Interactive available across all platforms.



Ashen (2018) is a souls-like action RPG game developed by A44 and published by Annapurna Interactive. This game provides a single-player and multiplayer experience with passive multiplayer mechanics. For this review, I am discussing the 39.99 Steam release, but it’s also available in the Epic Game Store, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation.

In this bitter world, your character seeks to make a home for yourself and others. This goal requires you to fight for every inch of land, building connections and alliances to maintain a thriving village. Venture further to make the world a more hospitable place, but know the further you travel, the greater the threats.

The beginnings of a small village. A man waits by a pillar, facing the player.
Ashen Vagrant’s Rest

What I Like about Ashen

In 2017, Ashen earned a nomination for the Game Critics Awards’ “Best Independent Game.” It would later earn several more nominations in 2019. At the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards, it received nominations for “Game, Original Role Playing” and “Original Light Mix Score, New IP.” It was nominated for “Most Promising New Intellectual Property” at the SXSW Gaming Awards. Finally, at the Golden Joystick Awards, it earned a nomination for “Xbox Game of the Year.”

The multiplayer experience remains essential for Ashen, focusing on you and a partner venturing together to explore an open-world environment. However, the single-player experience is my focus and the game accounts for this gameplay. Ashen often pairs you with a villager who helps with the challenges.

The art style remains a plus throughout the gameplay. Though muted in colors and lacking finer details, the style creates a unique world that allows players to get lost along their journey. If the aesthetic doesn’t evoke that curiosity, then Ashen becomes hard to recommend.


Vagrant’s Rest and the inhabitants remain a strong incentive to continue on your journey. Seeing the progression of the town and building connections with the people provide the most rewarding experience.

In terms of horror, the art style often evokes an eerie atmosphere. However, I won’t go so far as to say the game is haunting. Instead, it evokes emotions that can unsettle and unnerve the gamer.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Thoughts and Considerations

The souls-like influence remains straightforward. Progression requires the player to defeat enemies and collect currency for weapons or certain item upgrades. Ashen simplifies and focuses its gameplay, reducing variety to polish its choices. The gameplay remains fluid, with a few hiccups that might be a computer issue.

If you prefer magic or defined classes, the gameplay doesn’t enable this variety. Item upgrades and choices define your playstyle, allowing most items to be playable at any stage of gameplay.

Weapons make a greater difference in playstyle. Most of these differences are self-evident (i.e. blunt weapons are slower but stun), but upgrades make any weapon viable. You pick an aesthetic and function, sticking with it until something better catches your eye.

A character helps another limp away, using a spear to help walk. Above reads Ashen.
Ashen Promotional Art

What I Dislike about Ashen

As mentioned, the game had some technical issues. I often assume this to be my computer, but I did note a few others mentioning similar issues. The gameplay remains fluid, so take this comment as a small point of consideration.

With limited roleplay options, liking the characters or art style remains essential for your time and money investment. As mentioned, the game doesn’t hold the variety of FromSoftware, which means their selling point comes from that unique art style and world. 


Passive multiplayer is a major part of the marketing for Ashen. While I don’t mind this mechanic, 6 years after release reduces the overall impact. When so few wanderers appear in your game, it’s hard to see the overall appeal.

Final Thoughts

Ashen delivers a highly specialized souls-like experience, preferring to perfect what it can at the cost of variety. If the art appeals and the thirst for a souls-like has you wanting, Ashen stands as a strong contender. However, there are many contenders which make this hard to overtly recommend.
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1995), a Game Review

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1995) is a point-and-click horror game based on Harlan Ellison’s award-winning short story.



I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1995) is a point-and-click horror game based on Harlan Ellison’s award-winning short story of the same name. Developed by Cyberdreams and The Dreamers Guild, this adaptation brings a new perspective to a familiar story. I heard of free purchasing opportunities for this game but cannot verify the quality. For this review, I played the 5.99 Steam release.

Play as one of the remaining humans on earth: Gorrister, Benny, Ellen, Nimdok, and Ted. Each faces a unique challenge from their common torturer, the AI supercomputer known as AM. Chosen by AM to endure torment, these challenges require the participants to face their greatest failures and tragedies.

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Cover Art. A mutilated face with no mouth.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Cover Art

What I like about I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

Having experienced this story a few times, Harlan Ellison provides the most substantive execution of his vision and moral questions in this game. While all have individual merits, I assume the added content and context better dive into the relevant points he hoped to explore. He also played the voice of AM, giving us the emotional complexity of the machine as he saw it.

As the above comment indicates, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream remains a faithful adaptation with only one notable change. While that one change does reflect in that character’s journey, it uses that opportunity to the fullest. Where the short story left room for potentially inaccurate interpretations of the characters, this added context makes us better understand them.

The game’s writing remains a selling point for this story-driven experience. It dives further into the lore of the human characters and even allows further development of AM in the process. There are many ways to progress, and the multiple characters allow gamers to adventure further if stuck. That said, progressing individual characters to complete their journey remains essential for the true ending and experience.


As a point-and-click game made in 1995, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream holds up well. In many ways, it pushed the genre in its time with dynamic storytelling and game features. Harlan Ellison was someone who pushed boundaries to challenge himself and others. He saw the gaming industry as another opportunity to evoke story-driven art, a focus reflected here.

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Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Thoughts, Triggers, and Considerations

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream adapts a dark and bleak story from an author notorious for his dark material. This game is no exception to that standard. Mental illness, sexual assault, genocide, and torture envelop the game. These elements are handled with attention but remain triggering to those sensitive to such dark material.

If these are deal breakers, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream will likely earn a skip.

A cartage with red flames, a face in a circuit.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Game Cartage

What I Dislike, or Considerations, for I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

While the short story remains a haunting example of fiction in every sentence, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream doesn’t evoke the same tension. It allows room to breathe or refocus on another character, which reduces the horror such a story evokes. While the characters participate in their torment, the loss of agency and hopelessness doesn’t translate in the execution.

Some mechanical and gameplay issues are noteworthy. For example, the saving mechanic remains dated, piling up if you save often or for specific reasons. Most of the mechanical issues stem from outdated UI from a gamer of a more modern era. Play it long enough, and elements start to click, but it needs that user investment.

Point-and-click caters to a niche audience, so modern gaming audiences aren’t inherently the demographic. The puzzle-solving and gameplay won’t win you over if the genre isn’t to your taste. Even within the genre, many of the puzzles remain challenging. For fans of the genre, this likely earns a positive merit. For those looking to continue the short story, this challenge will prove an obstacle.

Final Thoughts

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream provides a new opportunity for the award-winning story to reach new audiences and continue to grow. Not satisfied with repeating his story in a new medium, Harlan Ellison expands this bleak world through the point-and-click game. While not as haunting as the short story, this game provides the most context and development of any adaptation before it. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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