The Night Cage is a new tabletop game that turns every tile flip into a suspenseful and terrifying moment. The new tabletop game is a 1-4 player fully cooperative game set inside an ever-shifting maze. The players guide a team of four characters, each of whom have only a single candle to guide them and a single chance to escape - grab four keys and then use them together to open a gate. However, not only do monsters randomly appear to block the players' path, but they also have to contend with a constantly shifting maze that changes as soon as the light from their feeble candlelight stops touching it.
Playing The Night Cage is deceptively simple. At the start of the game, players place their character (or characters if playing with less than four players) and a starting tile anywhere on an empty 6x6 grid board. They then draw tiles from a collective reserve, flip them over, and then orient the paths shown on those tiles to connect to the path on the tile they're currently standing on. These tiles either contain standard pathways, rooms with keys or a gate, or Wax-Eater monsters that targets anything that moves. And once a tile is no longer illuminated (i.e., no longer adjacent to a player), it is immediately discarded and lost for the rest of the game. This adds a frantic element to The Night Cage, as the appearance of a gate or key on the board will immediately change a player's strategy as they frantically scramble to grab that key or hold a gate before it disappears forever. If the players let too many keys or gates slip out of their reach, their doom is guaranteed no matter what.
In subsequent turns, they can choose to move onto a tile, thus illuminating potential new paths and removing any tile that they aren't adjacent to from the board, or choose to stay in their spot and thus keep the current tiles on the board and the paths lit for other players. Players can either choose to continuously explore the maze, hoping to find the valuable keys that can lead to their escape, or try to stick with established paths and thus slow the loss of tiles. When the players run out of tiles to draw, the game enters its final stages, when darkness begins to enclose the players and they have to get to a gate before they become forever trapped in the darkness.
After playing through The Night Cage on Tabletop Simulator, I enjoyed how unnerving gameplay was without the use of grotesque imagery or overly complicated rules. Players should be able to jump into the game after just a round or two of play, and there are a number of strategies that all offer up their own risks and rewards. For instance, sticking together will let the players slow down how many tiles are on the board at any one time, but makes them more vulnerable to Wax Eaters. Meanwhile, remaining apart gives players more chances to find keys or gates, but could mean some frantic scrambling if the "wrong" player draws a key or gate at a bad time.
The Night Cage combines simple gameplay, deep strategy, and a horrifying mood to create an unforgettable experience. You can check out the Kickstarter here.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.