Haunted Mansion: Call of the Spirits Welcomes Foolish Mortals to a Charming, Simple Game

Haunted Mansion: Call of the Spirits Welcomes Foolish Mortals to a Charming, Simple Game
A general glimpse at the board and cards, and a peek at the inside box cover art for fun. (Photo: Beth Elderkin/io9)

Disney theme park rides continue to be a source of entertainment — even outside of the parks themselves. The Jungle Cruise movie is set to come out (at some point) and Disney recently announced Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion were getting films. But first, a new board game is inviting creepy ghosts to come out and socialise…in your own home.

Funko Games has helped create Disney’s The Haunted Mansion: Call of the Spirits, a board and card game where players win by socialising with as many of the mansion’s ghosts as possible. That activity takes the form of collecting Ghost Cards placed at various spots around the board and the person with the highest total wins. Players move around using an “endless hallway” to collect the cards and build sets while trying to avoid the Hitchhiking Ghosts — bumping into them will cause players to incur penalty points, called “haunts.” The person with the most haunts at the end may well end up losing the game, as they’re forced to get rid of their largest set of cards.

Right off the bat, Call of the Spirits gets props for the art and game design. It’s cute with just a touch of creepy and comes with a lot of nods for Disney Parks fans. For example, the game board that contains the mansion’s rooms gives off a Mysterium vibe (with the back of the board showing an exterior shot of the Haunted Mansion), and the cards portray a wide variety of the ghosts and portraits that fill its many halls. They’re a bit more modern and cartoonish than I would like, but that’s a personal preference and doesn’t speak to the overall quality of the artwork. Even the inside of the box lid gets to be part of the fun, as it contains an artistic rendering of the stretching elevator room.

The game might look daunting, given all the cards, but it’s pretty easy to learn — it takes about 10-15 minutes to get the rules down. It’s very similar to Sushi Go, albeit with the added difficulty of moving around a board to collect things. I’d say the hardest part is learning the card set configurations (of which there are several) and which ones will earn the biggest points. Let’s just say what I thought was a genius strategy didn’t work so well the first time around. Given how many board games love to pile on the rules and obstacles nowadays, it was refreshing to play something that was, well, simple. It’s recommended for ages eight and up and that seems totally fair, making it a good board game for family nights.

Unfortunately, it’s not super stellar for couples’ sessions. The game says it’s for two to six players, but it’s clearly geared forward four or more people. Players can only take three actions per turn — which take the form of moving around the board, rotating the endless hallway, taking ghost cards, or removing haunts. When you have a lot of players, that’s a lot of moves and the board stays relatively clear. But if you only have two players, it means your board ends up getting overwhelmed with ghost cards you simply don’t have time to collect. It didn’t break the game, and my husband and I still had fun playing it, but it did get a tad annoying by the end. If anything, I’d recommend a house rule of giving players an additional action if you’ve only got two to three players.

Different card combos yield unique rewards — like all Groom cards triple in value if you have the Bride. (Photo: Beth Elderkin/io9)Different card combos yield unique rewards — like all Groom cards triple in value if you have the Bride. (Photo: Beth Elderkin/io9)

Call of the Spirits is a great board game for families, as well as folks looking to relive the glory days of getting to actually visit a Disney park. It’s an especially good choice for families looking for Halloween night options, as trick-or-treating may not be possible during “the times we’re living in.” It might be more for a night of casual gaming than an in-depth session, but sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered. Well, in this case, it might be a mortician. Hurry back, hurry baaaaaack.

The Haunted Mansion: Call of the Spirits costs $55 and is currently available at all good gaming websites.