Grind House – Everything Epic – Review

Grind House cover

Clever idea, great artwork, and good production values cannot elevate the insipid game play of Grind House.

Drew Vogel

MeepleGamers

7/10

Theme and What is it?

8/10

You receive an invitation to take part in a mysterious contest at the “Grind House,” an old mansion that once stood as the largest slaughterhouse in the state. The invitation is signed simply by an individual known as “The Host.” The letter promises you the opportunity to play a game to win a reward greater than you could possibly imagine. You arrive at a decaying mansion on a hill along with five other strangers. A tall, narrow man in a tuxedo opens the huge ominous doors to usher you inside. “Thank you for attending this evening…” The Host says in a deep, ominous voice. “The entertainment will be… to die for!” The Host bursts into a sinister echoing laugh. Behind you, the door slams shut and the sound of a heavy deadbolt clicks into place. You and your fellow guests are trapped at the mercy and whims of The Host. “Shall we play a little game?”

Grind House is a narrative horror game for 2-6 players where you would be considered lucky if survival only costs an arm and a leg. While survival is the ultimate goal, each player has a classic archetype with a secret motive. Some characters like the Doctor may try to keep everyone alive, while the psychopath with surely attempt to split everyone apart. Others, like the Pianist, just want to keep their hands intact.

For those unfortunate souls who do perish in the house, the game is not over. Players may return as ghosts to haunt the remaining survivors as they try to make it through the Grind House unscathed. After exploring all 5 randomized rooms in the house, any survivors left total up their score to determine the winner.

Invitation

Gameplay Mechanics

6/10

In the game, players hope to survive 5 rooms in a haunted house called The Grind House. The rooms are randomly selected from a stack and are placed facedown in the play area.

The first player flips over the first unrevealed room card and reads it out loud. All players may be involved in the action of the room card, which involves rolling a die (their “Blood Dice”) to see if they take damage.

Players have Persona cards randomly assigned. They can also collect Item cards that may help their struggle to stay alive, but the core of the game is revealing cards, reading & executing their text, and taking the consequences.

Neoprene mat

Initial Impressions

8/10

Initially, this game looks impressive. The box is colorful with interesting art on the front. The back of the box shows the game set up, which doesn’t look very impressive (but I understand it is impossible to read any of the cards on the back to avoid spoilers). The back of the box advertises that the KRAMPUS expansion is included.

Opening the box, the first thing I noticed was a nice neoprene game board, an unexpected surprise. The manual is nice looking, and is NOT entirely free of errors (“..the rest fo the the game” appears in the Setup instructions).

The cards are colorful and of good quality. The tokens are also well-designed and good quality.

Some of the cards are clever and make nods to common horror tropes (creepy doll, crystal ball, grimoire, voodoo doll, etc.) which is nice.

Characters

Game Build Quality

10/10

All of the components feel like they are good quality. There is nothing that stands out as feeling cheap. The Blood Dice are hefty and interesting-looking.

The inclusion of the KRAMPUS expansion — which is Winter Holiday themed — is a nice touch. This expansion adds new Room cards, Item cards, and Persona cards.

The game has a small physical footprint and would probably fit nicely on a standard card table, even at full player count.

Dice

Artistic Direction

10/10

The artwork is consistent — and consistently cool — throughout. I do have a small disagreement with the ramshackle house pictured on the cover and the “invitation” from The Host which is printed on fancy paper. Those two don’t seem to go together in my mind, but I think the image on the front cover is still evocative.

Character cards

Fun Factor

3/10

And now we start getting to the disappointing part of this game.

Once you’ve gone through all the cards, this game will wither very quickly. It is a random luck-fest better suited for a group of tweens/teenagers who want to scare themselves silly than for serious gamers. And the subject matter and execution make it too mature for most tweens, so Everything Epic will lose the lower end of their target demographic.

For me, a mature, experienced gamer, this game simply was not fun. Nor would I classify it as a “game”. In my opinion, it is an “activity”.

Evan ain't doing too well...

Age Range & Weight

6/10

As discussed above, the box lists 14+ (BGG says 15+). And here is the dilemma… The bloody theme may be too intense for younger kids, and the gameplay (such as it is) is not compelling for older kids.

I suppose if you have a mature kid who loves horror but isn’t a savvy gamer, this might fit the bill.

Evan got dead.

Conclusions

6/10

Clever idea, great artwork, and good production values cannot elevate the insipid game play of Grind House.

Persona cards