About a week ago, we reviewed and discussed The Return To Monkey Island, a point-and-click adventure video game for Steam and the Switch. During our discussions, we lamented the lack of point-and-click adventure type games in board/card game form! There are, however, some out there … like The Grand Hotel Abaddon, which we review this week.
The Grand Hotel Abaddon is the fourth in the Adventure Games series from Kosmos Games: Yes, that’s right! There are at least 3 more adventure point-and-click card adventures!!! This particular adventure is for 1-4 players and plays over 3 sessions of 90 minutes each. To be clear, this is a “one-and-done” game: once you’ve played it, you’ve seen all the puzzles and solved them. You can still easily pass this box on to some friends to play (you can still reuse the game, as you don’t destroy any components). You can also come back to it in a year or two when you’ve forgotten all the puzzles. I frequently replay my old point-and-click adventure video games (The Monkey Island games, Thimbleweek Park, to name a few), so I am in the category of re-enjoying and re-playing games.
So, Is The Grand Hotel Abaddon good enough to replay in a few years?
Components and Gameplay
The game is mostly cards and an Adventure Book: see above. The Adventure Book (above right) has the story and and interactions all baked in … and lots and lots and lots of text!! The big cards (labelled A) are Locations you travel to in the game, the numbered cards are objects to interact with, and the tokens are for noting things. Below, you can see all the objects the character Yu Heng Zhu holds (a bunch of cards).
The Big Cards sit out and form the map you explore:
Each player takes the roll of one of four adventurers in the game.
I ended up playing the Dr. Susan Pendergast. Throughout the game, each character has a minor subplot that unfolds within the main plot. You actually get pretty invested in your character as you play! We ended up playing 3 different sessions over about 2 months. We always enjoyed coming back to the character we previously played.
The Adventure Book is the most important piece in the game. If you want to explore, put two objects together, try something in a Location, or generally “do anything”, the adventure book tells you “what happens”. Generally, the game works by combining two numbers: objects have a 2 digit number and Locations have a 3 digit number. You quine the numbers together (the smaller number first then the bigger) and lookup that number in the Adventure Book. If an entry with that number is there, you read it and “something happens!’ If there is no entry, that means that interaction doesn’t do anything.
Players basically work together to explore the map and try to figure out what’s going on! The story is quite interesting! Play proceeds clockwise, as each character “tries something” (explore, combine, other) to see what happens.
Why a Mini-Review?
Why are we doing a mini-review and not a full review?
- We didn’t get a chance to play this solo: the game gives you rules to play it solo by operating two characters (yay, thanks for following Saunders’ Law), but we didn’t play this way. We played the game with a full complement of 4 people. And we think this is the best way to play: each player then gets to play their own character and feel ownership/kinship with that character and the backstory. You also get to see all the arcs of the game that way.
- It’s difficult to avoid spoilers. It’s hard to talk too much of the game without giving away too many spoilers. This particular game also has a lot of spoilers: it’s much more fun to see what happens as you play.
App vs. Text
So, you can play this game with an app or without an app. We played the original Adventure Game: The Dungeon without an app because it didn’t exist yet when we played! In that play, the Adventure Book was passed around a lot as each player would read out of the book on their turn. We had a lot of fun reading out loud and talking in silly voices when we played the first one!
You can also play The Grand Hotel Abaddon without an app as well. That’s very satisfying: if the company ever goes belly-up and stop supporting the app, you know you can still play this.
In the end, though, we ended up using the app to read the text. Partly because it was less work, and partly because it was less tiring: we could all concentrate on what was being said and just solve the puzzles.
We preferred using the app to read. But we would have had just about as much fun reading from the Adventure Book ourselves.
We has a grand old time playing this (no pun intended). We played the three different sessions over three different nights: the game seemed to be just the right length each time: not too long, not too short. We were able to explore, tease further plot points, do interesting things, and generally have fun.
I think we also enjoyed the game that much more because we each played a different character with different goals and backstories: we bonded with our characters. I feel like we didn’t get this as much in the previous Adventure games.
Overall, the Dungeon is still our favorite, but The Grand Hotel Abaddon is a very close second. The other two are still good, but arguably not as good. Some people didn’t like The Volcanic Island very much (it does have some weird things happening), but we did.
If you want a point-and-click adventure board game like the video game Return To Monkey Island, then The Grand Hotel Abaddon is a great choice: it gives you that exploration and puzzle-solving experience like The Monkey Island games, but in board game form.
And yes, this game is good enough to replay: I suspect we will replay this again in a few years.
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