Atmosfear: The Gatekeeper is a DVD board game where its main attraction is also its biggest flaw.
So, you’re playing a board game with your friends. Things have gone better than well and you’re having a huge lead over others. Suddenly, a creepy old grandpa with the looks of Emperor Palpatine pops on your TV screen, tells you something nasty, and then you dive from being your own hero back to an absolute zero. Your friends laugh at your misfortune and you’re frustrated, but that’s the name of the game. Welcome to the world of Atmosfear: The Gatekeeper, the board game that is controlled by a DVD – or more precisely the old man on it.
In Atmosfear your task is to collect keys from all the different areas. As the amount of keys on the game board is limited, you might need to duel other players to get your missing keys. Once you have the keys you need head to the Well of Fears to face your greatest fear.
In the beginning of the game, you pick a horror character you want to play as, such as a vampire, a poltergeist, or a zombie. Then one of the players is named the Chosen One by the Gatekeeper. This player’s task is to make sure that everyone plays by the Gatekeeper’s rules. However, the Gatekeeper isn’t a nice host, so if you’re the Chosen One get ready to get more stick than carrot from him.
The DVD plays a crucial role in the game. It works as a timer that sets how much playtime is left. You need to finish the game before the timer goes to zero or else the game wins. Additionally, the timer affects some of the event cards, thus time means more than how many minutes are left in the game. The DVD also affects a lot of the game as every now and then the Gatekeeper will appear. He tells you what to do, and this leads to many unexpected situations. Moreover, every time he talks to you, you need to answer: “Yes, my Gatekeeper”. If you don’t do it you may end up in trouble, like get trapped in a Black Hole.
The game is easy to play. The instruction manual is a single two-sided paper. You can also find the instructions on the DVD which is great if you’re a lazy reader like me. Furthermore, there aren’t too many pieces to set on the board before the game. This makes starting the game easy.
However, once you start the DVD you can’t pause it. The game isn’t long, so you have to keep your bathroom breaks short and someone has to be in front of the TV the whole time as the Gatekeeper can appear at any time.
Speaking of the Gatekeeper, the guy himself is portrayed by a horrible actor. There’s nothing scary about him except his looks. Actually, the Gatekeeper becomes very irritating really fast. He shows up way too often and feels more like a distraction rather than someone you should respect and fear. Still, his presence is somewhat enjoyable as he brings an element of surprise to the game.
In conclusion, Atmosfear is an okay game. It’s quite fun to play, but it has its flaws. To be honest, the game could be even better with a different old man.
Designer: Brett Clements, Phillip Tanner
Release year: 2005 (Finnish version)
Age recommendation: 12+
Duration: 49 minutes