One of my most guaranteed “good times” is sitting down with some friends, some beer and watching a camp horror movie. Frankly, the lower the budget and the more cliched, the better. If it’s set at a summer camp with a bunch of stereotypical counselors, then I’m in. So sitting down in Vancouver’s Stormcrow Tavern with a healthy amount of alcohol, seeing the amazing box art of Camp Grizzly on their shelves was like a B-movie dream come true.
The set-up is simple: you and your friends choose a camp counsellor and then must do your best to work together and survive the bear-themed serial killer known as Otis. Camp Grizzly’s gameplay looks complicated but is very easy to pick up and get into the swing of. The goal is to move around the map and collect the various items needed to trigger one of the multiple escape options, such as car keys and gasoline for example.
In terms of killing power, Otis is basically Jason, but with a bear mask. He can teleport around the board like nobody’s business and it’s actually quite suspenseful. Every turn feels dangerous, even if you’re seemingly safe. Draw the wrong card and boom, everything goes to hell. There are so many little mechanics to appreciate, such as some characters being able to move more spaces per turn the lower their health gets. I especially like that you can only use the guitar as a weapon once because it smashes.
The counselors are about as basic as you’d expect, including lifeguard bro, bubble-gum chewing cheerleader, loner girl with a guitar etc, but they offer a great canvas for storytelling thanks to the various event and plot twist cards that consistently throw wrenches into whatever plan you’ve come up with. But it’s this sense of storytelling that made Camp Grizzly such a joy to play.
In one of our play-throughs, the cheerleader did all the heavy lifting: she collected nearly every escape item, fought off Otis the most and eventually led the others to survival, only to be killed by Otis at the last moment. The indie guitar girl (me) was randomly assigned the virgin card at the start, setting me up seemingly as the classic “Final Girl” and yet I spent the whole game contributing absolutely zero to the survival of the group, never finding a weapon of my own or making it to any of the escape items and whose only goal seemed to be getting laid, continuously drawing “fooling around” and “skinny dipping” plot twists.
If you see Camp Grizzly I highly recommend giving it a go, especially for fans of classic B-movie horror. It’s nice to have a game, every now and again, where all the players have to work together to survive and a horror movie is a perfect backdrop for that style of gameplay. (Even though our play through did see us sacrifice a player for the good of the group…)
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