Choose Your Own Adventure With the House of Danger Game
Dad Suggests is built upon two main pillars of family activities - picture books and family board games. Because of that, I think I’m especially drawn towards those mythical activities that somehow belong in both of those categories at once. I really love games that involve imagination and storytelling. Games like Rory’s Story Cubes are big favorites in our family because of the creativity involved. But recently we got our hands on a new game that satisfied our desire for books and games in the most precise way I could ever imagine.
Did you ever read Choose Your Own Adventure books growing up? I certainly did. I have fond memories of not only the original Choose Your Own Adventure books, but also the choose-your-own-adventure spin-offs of my favorite series Goosebumps - Reader Beware… You Choose the Scare. I bought every single Goosebumps growing up, and the same thing goes for the spin-offs.
If you’ve somehow never experienced reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you are occasionally provided with options to choose from while you are reading. If you choose one option, you go to one page. If you choose the other option, you turn to a different page. Oftentimes a wrong choice will lead to your premature demise, so always keep your thumb stuck into the last place you were at in the book just in case.
Choose Your Own Adventure was a game-changer for interactive storytelling. Having a choice in the story is empowering and definitely engaging. It makes the entire experience a lot more personal too, knowing that you’re responsible for the fates of the characters. It’s like Bastian getting his hands on The Neverending Story after spending his life reading “safe” books - only to find himself getting sucked inside and becoming part of the world.
Before we bought Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger, published by Z-Man and designed by Prospero Hall, my son and I already had a few other experiences with interactive storytelling. We’ve watched a few shows on Netflix like Puss In Boots that includes choices to be made. And we’ve even read a handful of new choose-your-own-adventure books together as well. From my experience, it’s clear to see that no matter what the medium, being given a choice during a story fires up our 6-year-old’s imagination and sucks him into the action like nothing else.
And even though all of those past experiences were amazing, and even though our son loved every second of those stories - the game House of Danger is so much better and so much more engaging in every way. When we first got it, I played it for 4 straight hours with a very engaged 6-year-old. We played the whole game straight through. I can’t think of a more effective endorsement than that.
The reason I can say with 100% certainty that House of Danger is more engaging than any other choose-your-own-adventure experience is because it takes everything great about the books and adds to it. Rather than just sticking your thumb in the book and flipping back to the last page if you die, now there are tangible consequences for the wrong decisions.
In this game, dying is only a setback. Like the books, you’re going to return to a previous point and continue the story down a different path. But this time you also have to do things like increase the danger meter and drop your psychic points. A higher danger meter makes accomplishing challenges more difficult, because they will now require a higher roll of the die. And lower psychic points hurt you during the story in other ways, including leading to a less satisfying ending to the book.
There are five chapters in all, and you can play them in chunks, or you can play them all in one day if you can’t force yourself to put it away like us. The story follows a man exploring a mysterious house that turns out to be full of ghosts, crooks, aliens, and more. It’s really all over the place, and it’s awesome. The entire story is written on oversized cards for the narrator to read aloud. Occasionally you are faced with choices to be made, or optional challenges to complete. Special items that you collect into your inventory throughout the game can help you with certain challenges, and ultimately help you discover the most satisfying ending.
The age recommendation on the box is 10+, but, like I said, I’m very comfortable playing it with our 6-year-old. Since deaths are only setbacks, we just refer to them as feinting while we are playing. My personal recommendation is to just stay on your toes while reading out loud. But there has only been one occasion where I have slightly modified the wording of a card while reading out loud. We’re big fans of spooky themes around here, but you know your own kids best.
Since there is only a finite number of cards and choices to be made, eventually you will hit a point where you know the whole story. But I think there are enough twists and turns to keep it fresh for quite a while. I certainly don’t remember all of the choices we’ve made in the past. Plus you have the added unpredictability of the optional challenges and the die roll - which can change everything.
I really think Prospero Hall and Z-Man knocked it out of the park with House of Danger. We were already big fans of Prospero Hall because of their design of the Home Alone game. And this game is like the perfect storm of imagination for a family activity. We’ve said before how much we love cooperative games, and my son and I have had a ridiculously good time together voting on what to do in this spooky mansion. I sincerely hope they produce many, many more Choose Your Own Adventure games in the future. After all, there are 183 more books in the series to choose from.
Did you read Choose Your Own Adventure Books growing up? What was your favorite one? Have you played House of Danger yet? Let us know in the comments!