Developer: Cephalofair Games
Publisher: Flaming Fowl Studios
Genre: Dungeon Crawler
Available On: PC
Gloomhaven is one of the most popular board games of all time. The beloved dungeon crawling adventure took the gaming world by storm when it was released in 2017. The standalone, more condensed game Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion released shortly after, streamlining the game while keeping the core gameplay loop. Last year Gloomhaven released on PC, and recently, the Jaws of the Lion expansion came out as well. Now, Gloomhaven fans have well over 100 hours of content available to them and their party.
Gloomhaven includes the entire board game campaign and its original 95 scenarios and event missions. The game includes 17 unique characters to use for its hex-grid card-based tactical RPG gameplay. Players will control 1-4 adventurers, depending on how many players are together in a session, and play through the game’s rich campaign as they rebuild Gloomhaven.
Gloomhaven’s biggest digital boon is the streamlined experience. Players no longer need to control enemy movements and actions or spend time going through their available cards and actions. The game handles most of it for the players, putting in front of them exactly what is available to them. This is especially significant for solo players who control all four adventurers. Players no longer need to sift through all of their party member cards if they are all alone. A quick click allows for them to switch members and instantly see what is available to them.
The seamless integration and ease of action isn’t the only reason to play Gloomhaven on PC though. The story mode is much more immersive digitally, with unit animations, a strong soundtrack, and an excellent narrator. The graphics aren’t the strongest, but there is so much detail when it comes to atmosphere that this is easy to forgive. Removing the need to think about the rules as much helps players get sucked into the world of Gloomhaven, mak ing the experience feel that much better, even if some of the actual board game magic is lost.
Another reason to double dip and get the digital version of Gloomhaven is the new Guild Master mode. This digital exclusive mode gives players access to new scenarios with all of the classes. Randomized scenarios give much more variability and lets’ players explore more of the game’s mechanics without the shackles that might hold them back in the main campaign.
Finally, there is a sandbox and level designer built in, essentially giving the game limitless value. This version allows for much more experimentation than the original game.
While Gloomhaven is now more accessible than ever, that doesn’t mean the game is easier. Players will need their characters to collaborate well to get through the campaign. Every mercenary has well over 10 abilities, and finding ways to synergize those abilities is deeply satisfying. Resources aren’t common, so players will need to be careful but deliberate in their actions.
Of the 17 unlockable units, six of them are available from the start. Each mercenary plays differently, and the slow unlocking of each one allows for players to get intimate knowledge of their characters’ strengths. The various settings and interesting NPCs combined with the many mercenaries gives Gloomhaven an excellent sense of discovery.
Few tabletop games translate as well to digital platforms as Gloomhaven does. While it isn’t a technical giant, the love and dedication put into making this a faithful adaptation overrides any small hiccups it might have. This isn’t just an excellent board game adapted to a video game. This is an excellent video game.
Gloomhaven is a shining example of what board game adaptations should aspire to be.