Aug 22, 2018

Choose Your Own Adventure - The Game

No matter how I old I get, there will always be a little rush of nostalgia any time I see a Choose Your Adventure (CYOA) cover. So when Z-Man Games put out a CYOA game, there was no question that I'd be checking it out.

As you can see, they didn't mess with success and stuck with the iconic cover design. The box comes packed with a lot of cards which I'll discuss as I explain the game part. The worst thing about the game is the box insert that's supposed to keep everything organized. If I weren't a collector minded person, I would just toss it out and put everything in Ziploc bags.

I should note that although this is billed as a "cooperative adventure game" adaptation of a CYOA book, it plays the same solo or with a group.

The basic story is that you are detective and psychic investigator that has been having  recurring nightmares that lead you to said house. Your mission is to get to the bottom of these visions!

Playing the game is like reading the book. You start with the chapter one card and then follow your choice to the indicated number card. The story is broken down into five chapters which provides good places to stop if you don't have time to do it all in one sitting. Each chapter has it's own deck of story and clue cards to go with it.

Story cards
Just like a CYOA book, the cards offer you choices during the story. But there are a few additions that make it more interesting than just reading aloud. Some parts of the story have challenges (upper right) that have to be overcome. There are different items you can find on your journey, represented by clue cards, that might help with certain challenges. The icon on the bottom of the saber below shows that it gives you +2 in fighting challenges.

Clue cards
As you play through the story, you'll be instructed to adjust your psychic scale and the danger meter. To take on a challenge, you roll a die and have to roll equal to or greater than your current danger meter level. As the game goes on, the danger meter creeps upward, making it harder and harder to beat any challenges. If the danger meter gets to the top, you reduce your psychic score by 2 and reset the danger level to where the arrow points.

Your psychic level can help you out during the story by allowing you to discover things, giving you additional story choices, or even premonitions!

If you remember anything about CYOA books, it's probably that you died (or failed) a lot. I know when I used to read these I always kept one finger on the page before turning to the next section in case I made a bad choice. Here, a premature ending will reduce your psychic score and let you pick up at the previous story. Death is only a minor setback.

I played through the first chapter on my own and had a pretty good time with the additional mechanics. I especially liked the clue cards which give you a physical representation of your item inventory. The danger meter can make you feel like the game is stacked against you as it creeps higher but it eventually resets itself.

This is made as a party game and I could see it being fun with a few more people to share the experience. If you grew up with CYOA, I'd say it's definitely worth checking out. It will hit all the nostalgia buttons for you from the box cover to the card art on down to the font used on the cards, this is CYOA. The only "downside" for me is that it is more of a game because you have to have a play area so it's not something you can pick up off the nightstand for a quick adventure before bed. But I could always just pick up a book or two for that.

You could just as easily get a couple CYOA books and read them aloud as a party game. The extra game elements do make this something different and give you more options but I don't see it as something I'd return to once I finish it. More than likely, I'd skip the game parts and just read through the cards like I was reading a CYOA book to explore the possible choices.

House of Danger retails for $25. In stores so far I've only found it at Target. It's also available online at retailers like Amazon.


  1. I used to love CYOA books. I stuck mainly with the D&D-themed ones. I'll never forget choosing to save some elves that had been enslaved in a mine only to have them turn on me and kill me. WTH?!

    1. Oh yeah, I had quite a few of the TSR ones and Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf. I really liked those type of books, especially the latter two as they had fight mechanics and dice rolling to resolve things instead of just being able to pick a choice.

  2. Those books were great. Didn't realize they made games as well. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It's the only one so far. Don't know if they're planning on doing more but it will be interesting if they do because it will mean a whole different set of game stuff.