‘Photoghasts’ Card Game Review – Fast-Paced Found Pictures for Halloween and Beyond
Even for most seasoned video gamers, board games can still be a bit of a tough sell. It is extremely common to see glassy eyes when reading instructions for a new game, leading to confusion during gameplay. Since board games do not work the same way as their digital counterparts, it is easy to play completely wrong without even knowing it. Photoshastesa new haunted picture card game created by TW Burgessis inspired by many recent board games that combine physical gameplay with a phone app to make playing a game a seamless experience.
Burgess, a huge fan of found horror movies and urban legends, initially started the project as a fusion of short ghost stories with spooky analog art. Each animated photo he created was accompanied by a brief but evocative description, leading to great success on Twitter and TikTok. After collecting his art in a book, complete with an augmented reality app that brought the photos to life, he decided to take the concept and turn it into a handheld card game.
There is a certain satisfaction that this project, which began as a digital recreation of a very physical object, in this case a photograph, is now becoming a physical deck of cards, aided by a digital application. Each card features a grainy photo of the ghost, its name, a short story, and some stats. Given its origins, it’s no surprise that all of the artwork is excellent. Dark photos with hints of ghastly ghosts lurking in the shadows are extremely my jam, and Burgess knows how to pull off this style effectively. The microfiction is also excellent, telling tales of ghosts like Lady Impatience, a woman who’s been seen tapping her wrist and asking when the train is due, and Little Girl Gloom, a ghost who haunts a playground and tugs at your toes. while you are seated. on the swing.
Photoshastes is quite notable for its artistry, but the game itself is quick and simple, lasting only a few minutes. Each player is dealt a series of Photoghast cards and Action cards to make up their hand. Once the app is activated, players pass the phone around and take turns scanning cards with the AR app. Scanning a Photoghast card animates it in one of three unique ways. Either the ghost is removed from the map, cleaning up the photo and giving you points, or the ghost remains in the map, leaving your score unchanged, or the ghost attacks you, causing you to lose points. Each card has a specific value, and the higher the number, the more likely it is to scare you.
While you can do a little risk-reward analysis with point values, it can feel a little hit or miss as to whether you succeed or not, which is where action cards come in. These can be played instead of a Photoghast card and apply modifiers to previously played cards. Options include undoing point loss due to jump scare, swapping a card with another player, doubling points, and removing another player’s card. It’s a very fast game, each round must be completed in three seconds, so determining when to risk playing a high-value Photoghast card or one of your rare action cards is key to success. It still sometimes feels like there’s a lot of chance that you’ll succeed or not, but Photoshastes is short enough that you can keep playing one more game.
If you don’t feel like playing with the app, there is also an alternate set of rules for an offline mode. This mode uses card stats, playing like a variation of the traditional card game War. When it’s your turn, turn over your top card, choose a stat, then compare to everyone’s top card. Whoever has the highest score in this stat takes all the cards for that round, and the person who collects all the cards wins. This is another fast-paced card game that moves fast and involves just enough player choice. While it lacks some of the immersion of the app-based version, there’s still some fun to be had if you want a simpler, all-analogue version.
If the style of footage found is your thing, it’s easy to recommend. Photoshastes on art alone. It’s crisp, spooky and printed on high quality card stock. As a card game, it’s compact and quick on both counts, making it a perfect thing to carry in your pocket or purse and play on the go. Even if you’re unfamiliar with card games, the app makes it easy to play and adds a dynamic element to the already strong art. If Halloween had the equivalent of a Christmas present, Photoshastes would make a perfect holiday gift.
You can take your copy of Photoshastes here.
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