As a company, Ultra PRO is far better known for its card sleeves and deck boxes (a staple to be found among Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, and other trading card game players) than their board and card game catalogue. Said catalogue is fairly large – and, for the most part, family friendly. They’ve got some fairly popular releases like Ascension, Geek Out, and Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth.
I was fairly surprised, then, to stumble across what I initially thought to be a horror-movie themed deck box and find that it was actually a full game! And even more surprised to find how much I enjoyed Overkill.
Concept and Atmosphere
Overkill: Halloween Slasher is a fast-paced party game, wherein players take on the roles of classic slasher antagonists, competing to score the most, best, and funniest kills.
While it’s ostensibly a horror game, with numerous references to slasher flicks, it keeps the atmosphere of a monster movie more than a true slasher. It’s all in the tone, I think. Games like The Night Cage (which I reviewed here previously) attempt to create the chilly, nervous atmosphere of horror movies, while Overkill goes out of its way to make things feel camp and overdramatic. It’s all too ridiculous to be really scary.
There’s no need to turn the lights down for this game. Pop on some old rockabilly monster hits, and you’ve got all the atmosphere you need!
Gameplay and Rules
To start, each player draws (or selects) a horror movie villain to play as for the game. This selection is all about style – nobody gets any personal abilities from their choice.
Next, the Victim Deck is shuffled, and 6 cards are drawn face-down. These make up the victims that you will be competing to kill. Some are worth more points than others!
Then, each player is dealt a starting hand of 5 cards out of the game’s larger deck – these are the building blocks for each of your attempted kills. Each has a number on it, and a fragment of a sentence. When they are strung together (in numerical order), they create a full sentence detailing the manner in which you will be stalking and murdering the flipped-over victim.
The game then begins - players attempt to add detail to their plots by playing cards onto the table, and remove detail from their opponents. They need to keep a careful balance, though. While you can play as many cards as you want each turn, you can only draw a single card each time. If you run out of cards, you’re out of luck!
The round ends when a player ends a turn with more cards on the table than anyone else. That player takes the victim card they’ve won and keeps it until the end of the game. Another victim is then flipped over from the remaining 5, and a new round begins.
The game itself ends once all 6 victims have been taken. The winner is the player with the highest point total from their killed victims!
Luck vs. Strategy
This game requires very little strategy. You might want to reserve your cards for later victims, of course, since they may be worth more points (you don’t redraw between rounds). But beyond simple ‘reserving good cards for later’, this game does not require much thought. No need to plan ahead!
Number of Players
Overkill is meant to be played by 2-6 players, and works mechanically for any of these amounts. Like most party games, though, it’s more fun with more players. It helps if they’re willing to keep things light-hearted, too.
History and Availability
Overkill came out in October 2018, without much fanfare. It’s rated fairly decently, although some reviewers note that they had trouble figuring out the exact rules. Personally, I think that the rulebook could use some editing for clarity, but once you get the hang of play it’s easy enough to explain to new players without the book.
While this game is technically available on Ultra PRO’s website, as well as Amazon, it’s sold out on both. No reprinting date has been set yet, either. You can still buy it secondhand through sites like eBay and game resale groups, though. Additionally, you might have an easier time locating it at your local game store, like I did!
I’ve played Overkill a few times now, and it’s been fairly consistent in its goofy fun.
Your group definitely needs to have a dark sense of humor. After all, the whole point of the game is to see who can come up with the silliest way to horrifically murder someone. But, since it's kept within the realm of a horror movie, the distance between reality and in-game theoretical is well maintained.
There are a couple of design flaws – most notably, the fact that each character gets a sentence starter of their own (acting as a ‘1’ card in the sentence sequencing), but there are also sentence starters that can be drawn in the deck itself. It makes drawing those cards kind of pointless unless you really want something funny.
Overall, though, I would absolutely recommend this game for parties and get-togethers. It’s a quick play, without too much thought. Perfect for a Halloween party or a horror movie marathon!
Have you ever played Overkill: Halloween Slasher? Did you enjoy it? We’d love to hear your opinion on the game in the comments below!