Plaid Hat Games is dipping back into the horror genre for their latest tabletop game with Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein and we're glad to say the results are stellar. The game is set 20 years after the events of Mary Shelley's iconic novel Frankenstein and places you in the role of a scientist attempting to continue the work of Victor Frankenstein and create your own powerful creature. You'll put your morality on the line (sometimes literally) as you attempt to get the materials and pieces you need to build your creature and bring them to life, and though the learning curve is a bit steep, it is immensely well worth it.
As you might have surmised, you'll need to do some morbid things to get your creature to completion, all the while paying attention to how your actions affect your three important gauges. Those gauges are Humanity, Reputation, and Expertise. The higher each one goes the more benefits you obtain. For example, if you gain more Humanity, you can gain more Victory Points and more Reputation. If you gain more Reputation you can gain more Victor Points and more scientists, and gaining more Expertise gets you more Victor Points and better dice rolls.
You can move up and down based on how you decide to procure body parts to build your creature, and there lies the give and take tug of war that lies at the heart of the game. You're rarely getting something for free, so whether you're giving up your humanity a bit to straight-up kill someone or trying to save enough money to buy cadavers from the Hospital, you'll have to sacrifice something to get it done. You also have a bevy of ways to raise your stats, like heading to the Academy or the Church, and procuring Humanity and Research Cards can give you an advantage as well.
You'll use a variety of places to get body parts from, whether that's the Morgue, the Graveyard, the Slaughter House, the Docks, or in rare cases the Public Square, and in doing so you will start to collect them in your lab. Since they are body parts, they degrade with every turn, so you'll want to use them as quickly as possible to create a body part, thus getting you one step closer to fulfilling your quest.
As you can see, there's quite a bit of depth in these mechanics, and we haven't even talked about Leyden Jars yet and the lengthy process of actually assembling your body parts, as there are several types of materials you'll need to do so. That's where the learning curve comes in, and there is definitely a curve there. It wasn't until after the 2nd turn and into the 3rd that we really understood how all of the mechanics flowed into one another, so you will need to be a bit patient with yourself as it all comes together.
That said, things do finally click into place, and once they do you'll notice how quickly turns fly by. You'll be using all of the options present on the board, utilizing your scientists in a variety of ways that will help you towards your end goal. It also doesn't hurt that the visual presentation of the game is impeccable, with every gauge, token, and area of the board perfectly encapsulating the era and the tone of this horror-themed adventure.
This is a game that rewards patience but do yourself a favor and learn the game before teaching it to someone else. If you can, you'll likely win them over completely, as Abomination has a killer premise, gorgeous visuals, and deep and layered mechanics that will make it the highlight of any tabletop gathering.
Rating: 4 out of 5
I'm not sure if I've played a tabletop game this intricate or involved before, and I mean that in the best way possible. The initial set up took a while and the first round was a lot to take in, but once you get rolling it's an absolute blast. The whole story and vibe of the game are right up my alley. Stealing corpses and bringing things to life as a board game? Yes please. I'm actually surprised at how well executed the game itself is, because the premise could have been easily wasted by a dull, repetitive experience. The Event/Encounter cards at the beginning of every round keep the Abomination incredibly engaging, challenging you to continuously adjust your strategy on the fly. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the game and I'm stoked to play again. - Charlie Ridgley
Published by Asmodee/Plaid Hat Games
Designed by Dan Blanchett
Illustrated by Palamarchuk Mikhail and Tony Sart
Graphic Design by David Richards
Editing by Jonathan Liu
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.