We recently played Escape the Dark Castle for the first time as a family. We actually played it twice in a row three of us liked it so much. I think the biggest objection from Crow, our youngest player (age 9) was that the game is to difficult to win, and that the stakes are too high (i.e. everybody dies). Our older player, Dazzle (age 12) was fine with the grimmer content, including the monster made out of meat.
This game is really atmospheric. The art is simple but really evocative. The characters you play are not heroes. They are simple tradesfolk that have been put in an awful position. Trapped in the prison of the titular dark castle, the players seize the opportunity to escape when it arises. They must survive fifteen chapters and one final boss to escape. Each of these chapters and the boss is represented by a card that is randomly selected, so the game is different each time you play.
As I mentioned above, three of us really enjoyed this game. It gives you a really solid fantasy experience with 2 minutes of setup and 30 minutes of gameplay time. This makes it a relatively quick game compared to other games with a similar aesthetic.
The down-side for younger players (other than the grim and grisly subject matter), is that the game is not winnable every time you play, even if you make all the best decisions. Sometimes the cards stack against you, sealing your fate. Other times, a few bad couple of dice rolls lose the game. Combined with the high stakes of the game, this is almost certain to be harder for younger players.
Escape the Darkness of Escape the Dark Castle
While I really enjoy this game, I’d love to see a lighter-hearted version of it that would work for younger players. Maybe less meat monsters and a variable level of success based upon how many chapters you complete would do the trick?
Wanna see more about the games we play?