1 player, Survival Horror Showcase
Designer: Evan Derrick, A. J. Porfirio
Artwork: Tyler Johnson, Tumo Mere
Publisher: Van Ryder Games
Release Year: 2021
Note: All pictures are with Play Mats (Sold separately)
Overview of Gameplay
Final Girl is a series of individual games that you can combine, mix and match to create some wonderfully thematic situations. In this review I will be going over the Core box that you will need to play the game as well as the first of the story boxes, Hans with Camp Happy Trails. It is important to note that you cannot play the game with JUST the core box. You MUST purchase at least one of the story boxes along with the core box to be able to play.
Core Box – This is going to be all of the tokens, dice, action cards, horror tracker board that you will use for every game of Final Girl. It’s basically all the stuff you will always need.
Hans w/Camp Happy Trails Box – Now this is one of five full “Feature Film” boxes that you combine with the core box. Within this box you will find all the components dedicated to both Hans AND the location, Camp Happy Trails.
Gameplay is straight forward with you taking your turn playing action cards from your hand which in turn allow you to move around the location, searching for items, rescuing victims, trying to survive and POSSIBLY kicking some ass. You will be rolling dice along with the action cards played to see just how successful your cards are. There are ways to mitigate those rolls so it never seems “unfair” or “Too lucky”. You see this killer, Hans, is up to no good roaming around this camp picking off victims, gaining strength in the process. You don’t want to take up too much time before finally confronting him for the final showdown. But, at the same time you NEED to be prepared!
After you take your turn playing action cards you will “spend time” (which is basically the currency) to acquire more new cards into your hand for the next round. There are a range of different action cards to acquire from attacks to faster movement, to helping mitigate those dice rolls. Once finished, Ol’ Hansy boi will perform his basic attack, which is swat a pesky victim in his space, then you draw a Terror card which will usually have a random negative thing to overcome.
After that if there are any alive victims in Hans’s space AND he killed one this round, the rest of them will panic and take off running all over creation. You simply roll a dice for each one and move it according to the number rolled on the board. Then, IF all the terror cards have been drawn out (10 cards in the terror deck mixed from both the Hans AND Camp Happy Trails terror decks) then Hans Finale card will be flipped and he goes into a kind of “overdrive” of murdering frenzy. Basically, you wanna try to kill him quick at this point.
To win, Kill Hans before he kills you! Easy right? Ha…hahahahaha. I will say this particular Feature Film box is THE most straight-forward of all the others. There are no special rules for both Hans or the Camp Happy Trails location. That’s not to say they are EASY or bland, quite the contrary actually. Now, let’s dig into the finer details……
Components/ Game Board
As far as quality goes these are really nice! The dice are over-sized and have a nice weighty feel to them, the cards are slick but not overly thin. The various cardboard tokens are pretty basic but at the same time they are merely meant as markers on the board for a possible event situation, so you might not even use them during a game.
The core box has the horror track you will use for every game that you sit out. Alongside that you take both box lids for Hans and Camp Happy Trails. The setup is pretty daunting the first time you do it honestly, primarily because everything is in separate pieces. But I will say the rulebook does a good job showing you how it should look. As an aside I would HIGHLY recommend picking up the two playmats for the game (sold separately). It makes the setup a breeze for the game as it has labeled all the areas for everything.
Oh! There are also little colored wooden meeples you use for the Final Girl and killer and victims. I think these work out really great for the size of the board you are playing on, plus some of the event cards work in conjunction with some specifically colored meeples to create interesting victim situations which just add even more to the theme.
The boxes are super unique! Each Feature Film box is double-sided and about the same size as those old VHS tapes, maybe a bit wider. The lids are magnetized and completely pop right off to be used as the location board and on the other side of the box, the killer board. Under each lid there is a small plastic insert (with lid) that holds the specific terror cards and tokens used for the killer and location.
Now, I really like these boxes. Very easy to use for both setup and take down. Just open each side, use the lids for the board, mix the terror cards together and place the tokens on the table. Creative, unique and fun. Plus, they are very small boxes so you can easily store them.
Visual Appeal /Theme
This game is HUGE on theme. Beyond the typical horror movie tropes, you can create some really memorable moments with this game based on a great number of situations that can occur. Frankly, it boggles the mind at the decision space in this game which leads into hugely thematic situations. Picture this, you are at the Docks with a victim close by and you see the killer across the lake moving towards another pair of victims on the bluffs. You quickly search through the items at the docks and discover the boat keys! You turn, and reassure the victim everything will be ok and then leap into the boat, blazing across the lake, quickly ushering in the two victims right as Hans closes in and whipping them back to the dock. Making haste, you move a couple victims to an exit breathing a sigh of relief….for now.
That exact situation happened to me on my last play of this box. Now, anything could have changed that from the dice rolls to the event cards drawn to the terror cards drawn. Who knows what thematic situation could have occurred based on all that? Just incredible. The artwork is also well done giving the game a unique visual style, slightly cartoony but at the same time mature. I dig it.
The rulebook is pretty good overall. It explains most things well enough and has a good flow for learning the game. The back of the book has a nice turn structure so you can keep it out to follow along with easily, which is always a plus. That said, I wish the turn structure was printed on one of the boards or the player mat somewhere. It seems like even after 10 plays of the game I’m STILL needing to reference it as I am always forgetting the order of operations. As in, when to buy action cards and refresh the old ones or the order of the killer actions along with the victims panicking.
For a solo game this brings out more fun than a lot of multiplayer games I have played. It’s the decision space/thematic ties that REALLY bring out the fun for me. It’s not a complicated game and there is a fair amount of luck, but that luck transcends into theme all the time and it’s incredible to behold! The game plays fast enough as well (under an hour) that I never felt like I was disappointed with a bad roll. Go into the game expecting to have FUN and not expecting to WIN and you will never be disappointed.
There are so many games that create this “artificial” replay value by changing up the placement of items into different locations, which this game does as well with the setup cards. BUT, the difference here is that is just one tiny piece of the overall replayability with this game. We are talking IMMENSE amounts of replay value, even with JUST one feature film box.
In this one box there are two sets of Terror cards (one for Hans and one for Camp Happy Trails) you shuffle together and draw 10 cards from. Those are the cards you will use for the game. Since there will always be leftover cards, each game will act out differently having a random assortment of location events and killer events. The EVENT cards themselves you might ever only see one event card in a game (which is the first event card drawn at the very beginning). Sometimes the game has you draw more from the terror cards, sometimes it doesn’t. More replayabilty there. The ITEM cards, again shuffled up with four cards per the three searchable areas, which you will more than likely never see them all.
It goes on, the killer has a dark power card and a finale card hidden from view that is setup at the beginning randomly. There are 3 or 4 of EACH of these that are mixed so you never know what exactly the killer will transcend into during play. Each feature film box also comes with two different Final Girl cards (your character) that have different special abilities if you rescue a certain number of victims. Finally, as a cherry on top the final health amount of both the Final Girl and the Killer is unknown. You mix up a batch of final health tokens and place one on each the killer and final girl. Once you get to the final health point lost, you flip that token and it could have even more health under it! This game is just full of surprises.
Positive Final Thoughts
I really cannot say just how much I have enjoyed this game. It is my number 1 pick of solo games available and will always be in the mood to pull it out and play a quick game just for the surprising and thematic experiences.
Negative Final Thoughts
I think the Core Box (which is unplayable by itself) should come packaged with the Hans/Camp Happy Trails box. I see the appeal of mixing and matching and allowing customers to buy what they want…BUT….why sell something that is unplayable by itself? You cannot play a feature film box without the core set and vice versa. Since the Hans box is the most “basic” and a very good first learning box I would absolutely package it with the core box.
The Bottom Line
Hans with Camp Happy Trails is a great first play feature film box set. It doesn’t add in extra rulesets and is very straight forward but at the same time being extremely thematic and having huge amounts of replayability. If you can get ahold of this set I don’t think you would be disappointed, although it will for sure leave you craving more…….
The Fuzzy Llama Golden Seal of Eternal EXCELLENCE