For those who are unaware, Arkham Horror is a board game set in H.P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, and has nothing to do with Batman.
is a co-operative board game, based heavily on the Call Of Cthulhu role playing game. In it, you and up to 7 friends must prevent the destruction of the fictional town of Arkham at the hands (or more likely tentacles) of an Ancient One - a god-like being from this universe or beyond. There are two way to achieve this - by either preventing its awakening or facing it in battle when it finally awakens. In the game you are an investigator traverse the town of Arkham, collecting resources like weapons, tools, clues and spells, fighting the roaming monsters who precede the coming of the Ancient One, and visiting ‘Other Worlds’ - alien landscapes of strangeness and terror, whose gates must be explored and then closed to eventually seal the ancient one away. In the game, you must keep your stamina up, or become injured (possibly receiving a handicap for the rest of the game in one of the expansions
). You must also look after your sanity, which is decreased by being exposed to monsters and magic. Sound familiar to computer gamers, yet?
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Yes, that is my current dream game. As one who enjoyed Amnesia immensely, I would love to have a similar experience but in a multiplayer co-operative environment. The game would be a replica of neither experience, and instead take some of the exciting elements from each.
Firstly, the premise and location. These would come from Arkham Horror. The game would be set in Arkham and the Other Worlds. At the beginning of the game, the players select (or computer randomly selects) an Ancient One who will be the ‘final boss’ of the game. The board game series has about 25 Ancient Ones, so a game developer would have a lot of options to choose from. Also, each player would choose an investigator. The board game series has around 50, which is probably a little overkill, but I'm sure the developer could pick a nice selection. Each investigator begins with some unique equipment, as per the board game, and potentially has a special skill or power (for instance, the Doctor investigator in the board game has the ability to heal the other players). I imagine the game with 4 players (8 would probably be too many for a computer game).
In the board game Arkham Horror, the story of the investigators is delivered through randomly drawn cards which explain what happens next. For instance, if a player were to visit the Graveyard location, they would draw a card that corresponds to the Graveyard, read the text to find out what happens to them, and perhaps make a decision or roll dice to find out the outcome of that event. I like this element of the game - means you're never quite sure what to expect. Perhaps the computer game would feature many random events too, such as monsters appearing, portals to Other Worlds opening, and also possibly random ‘side quests’, which feature in the board game in the form of Rumor Cards (drawing one of these presents the investigators with a side-quest. Failing it can be disastrous, but there are usually nice rewards).
Many of the items, weapons and supporting characters from the board game could also feature in the computer game.
What would the gameplay itself be like? Well, imagine a multiplayer Amnesia with at least some hope of fighting back. Partly inspired by my friends and I sitting on Mumble and listening to each other gasp and whimper in fear while we played Amnesia, I just thought ‘Well, imagine if we weren't experiencing this on separate games, but really were all exploring somewhere terrifying together’. Therefore it would be a first person action/adventure game, rather than a dice-rolling board game. Think, for a moment, of the possibilities. For starters, puzzle solving in a group could potentially be a lot of fun. Opposing monsters in a group would be a lot of fun. And being scared in a group would be a lot of fun, especially if one introduced Amnesia' sanity effects. Of course, the sanity effects would only effect the player who is going insane, but that's the clever part: the information your computer is giving you about the game world will become less and less accurate the more insane your character becomes. You might, for instance, perceive the other players as being enemies. You might perceive routes that do not exist, or have your view severely disorientated, relying on the other players to guide you through until your sanity recovers. If all players go insane, expect chances of success to be very low!
I would play the hell out of this
Combat and casting would feature, but they would be rather weak. Rather, the players' cunning would be most effective. Perhaps players would have to distract monsters so the other investigators could sneak by to their next destination. Maybe they should work together to trap the monsters. Should the players travel alone as they often do in the board game to cover a wide area? Should they stay as one group, with safety in numbers? Split into pairs? Perhaps the players have very limited inventory space and must decide together which items are most important for their journey. All of these things could be co-ordinated by using built-in VoIP in the game itself.
Other board game elements could be included. The terror track is an abstraction of how terrified the townspeople are by the events around them (as the terror level increases, supporting characters leave the game and shops and venues gradually close). Perhaps this could be reflected in the computer game by having the streets become more an more dark and lonely as the game continues.
The objective of the game would be to close and seal all the dimensional gates open in the town before the Ancient One rises, or battle the Ancient One when he does rise (although investigators will probably lose this battle). The game is over if the Ancient One rises and devours the investigators. There's potential for epic final battles here, and DLC could be similar to the board game expansions, adding more challenges and side-quests and even new secondary locations accessible by train.
This was my little gaming fantasy. I'm sure Arkham Horror fans and Amnesia fans would enjoy this kind of thing. Friendly fire would be ‘on’ permanently, of course, so if you round a corner at the same time as an ally coming the other way, it's your own fault if you crap yourself and discharge your shotgun in their face. The game would be possible to save, though designed for playing in a single sitting. The eventual success of the players would not be assumed. They could all die and lose the game.