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It’s been nearly two years since the release of Mansions of Madness and this big app-driven game isn’t rolling over. Sanctum of Twilight is the third expansion in the line, parroting the smaller sized release Beyond the Threshold. Due to the consistent quality level of each of the prior products, it should come as no surprise that this one’s garnering a geometrically non-Euclidean thumbs-up.
In addition to the handful of tiles, cards, and figures, this small box offers the addition of the Order of the Silver Twilight. Astute Lovecraft adherents will recognize this elite group hailing from the lodge of the same name. They’re a far-reaching cast making up a not-so-secret society. Out of the lights and behind closed doors there’s blood, terror, and ritual sacrifice. Of course there is.
The two scenarios offered in this expansion present the cult, erm…society rather, in a particularly shadowed light. Skeletons are bursting from the closet and the people of Arkham are willing to turn their shoulders and do the dance macabre.
Both of these engagements feature heavy investigation with just a side of combat. The first has the team stumbling into a parade and attempting to unlock some of the order’s secrets. You’ll question entranced bystanders and even witness the crowning of a queen. It’s notable mechanically for a few curves, including tiles representing floats in the procession moving down the cobblestone street.
The second scenario starts off with a bit of a change-up and follows a twisting narrative of confrontation and suspense. It’s particularly enjoyable as a contrasting experience to the lengthier first outing, highlighting the fact that this game continually keeps us on our toes and unsure of what’s around the corner.
While that digital content is the primary add, the two new investigators are interesting. Lily Chen is a badass with a capital “B”. She deals extra damage when fighting unarmed and is quite capable with four agility and strength. Charlie Kane is less exciting, boasting softer physical stats and an ability that’s reliant on being near person tokens. When you can fulfill that requirement he’s incredibly flexible in capability, but this is entirely scenario dependent.
The Wraith is the new monster on offer and it is heavily featured in the two scenarios. While not a terribly strong adversary, its ability to phase through walls and ignore obstructions can be terrifying, particularly if you’re not well armed and focusing on investigation. The fact that these horrors seem somewhat impervious to heavier weapons and firearms means they’re well-suited to highlight the capabilities of Ms. Chen. It almost feels like this was planned.
While I’ve expressed some tenderness on the unnecessary inclusion of additional tiles in each expansion set, I have to admit that there are some interesting set-pieces here. There’s a focus on sinister hidden rooms and dark corners, tying in well to the central theme of the release. Most importantly, they boast character and stand out a bit from the usual collection of hallways and bedrooms.
Beyond the physical bits and the specific scenarios, one of the strongest aspects of this new expansion is in how it develops the civic element of Arkham. The Lovecraft worldview widens just a tad as this iconic order invades several aspects of the game.
That corrupted touch is left across insanity cards, items, and new events. It’s subtle, but you’ll notice a Silver Twilight mention here and there as you play older scenarios and delve back into the classics.
This soft approach of extending the setting is felt in a natural way that is satisfying. It props up the notion that this path will continue, eventually giving us the full scope of the city and offering a rich fantastic township full of dark alleys and unspeakable horror.
The expansion of the product line with a grouped slice of the setting is ideal. It unifies the content within the release as opposed to offering seemingly random scenarios that feel more one-off and less narratively unified. Hopefully this direction continues and that sense of coherence remains.
Sanctum of Twilight is a fine extension that offers exactly what we’ve come to expect. It’s not going to wildly twist the game or blow your top hat off, but it is going to live up to the series sustained quality. While it’s not as grandiose or impressive as Streets of Arkham, there’s still a satisfying adventure to be found and a world that needs savin’.
Have you played Mansions of Madness? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to join host Becca Scott on Game the Game every Thursday here on Geek & Sundry to watch the best boardgames played with fantastic guests!
Want More Boardgame Goodness?
- Check out our overview of the Streets of Arkham expansion!
- Meet the women behind Mansions of Madness Second Edition.
- Find out why Mansions of Madness Second Edition among 2017’s best board games of the year.
Image Credits: Charlie Theel
Editor’s note: A sample of the game was provided by the publisher
In addition to Geek & Sundry, Charlie Theel writes for Ars Technica, Tabletop Gaming, Player Elimination, and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. You can find him on Twitter @CharlieTheel