Review: Shrieks & Creaks
Publisher: Western Publishing Company
Year: 1988

Photo shows Dracula standing at a doorway to a mansion with an audiocassette tape nearby

how we met

Bill surprised me with Shrieks & Creaks last spring or so. He picked it up in decent shape at the Kane County toy show when I was not in tow. This game had been on my wishlist ever since I learned about it – presumably around the time I played Girl Talk: Date Line, but who knows. I can’t really remember. I was happy to have it, and it meant I get to use my audio cassette player for a second time!

how it plays

The object of Shrieks & Creaks is to be the first player to reach the tower in the haunted mansion. Then you win! (I’m not sure why the tagline says escape but the board leads you to a tower… in fact while I am nitpicking the tagline, it’s not really the mansion that speaks, it’s the ghosts.. ok I’m done now.)

The board shows a path through many rooms
The board showing the possible paths and Black Cat areas (more on those soon)

Each player chooses a character, and each character has a pawn as well as a key similar to the room keys. The Host character, Sir Simon Shriek, is not a player but is used to make sure the tape plays (more on that soon).

The player keys and Sir Simon Shriek
The player keys and Sir Simon Shriek, a little rough for wear

Place one Room Key in each room, matching the number on the key to the room number. Each row, or level, of rooms has the same number. It’s almost as though one of these keys will grant you safe passage and the rest will not.

Piles of room keys labeled 1 through 4
The Room Keys. Note: I am missing one level 2 Room Key

Place the cassette tape into your player and press play. Then put Sir Simon Shriek into the Tombstone Speaker and listen to the introduction. After the introduction, remove Sir Simon and you can start play!

On their turn, each player rolls the die and moves that number of spaces in any direction they choose, but if they encounter a Black Cat they must stop movement. After a player lands on a Black Cat, they immediately take their Player Key as well as the Room Key they are on and place them into the Tombstone Speaker together. If no sounds are heard, the room is clear and they can continue movement by rolling the die again immediately. However if sounds are heard, follow the directions. These will typically send the player to another room in the house. Then their turn is over.

The pawns, with one missing
My copy is missing one pawn, but you can substitute anything

It’s important to remember which rooms make noise and are therefore haunted for your particular playing piece. A room that is haunted for me may not be haunted for you, so it does you no good to memorize what happens to other players. But the goal is to avoid haunted rooms, so remember what happens during your own turn.

Continue play until one player reaches the tower. That player wins Shrieks & Creaks!

how it went

Shrieks & Creaks had been on my wishlist for ever so long, and I was ever so excited to play it. And I was ever so disappointed.

Shrieks & Creaks works the same way and has the same components as Girl Talk: Date Line which I reviewed early on in my blog. And if you read that review and continue to read the spoilers, I explain exactly which characters always make the speaker work, which players don’t contribute any contact, and so on. And maybe that ruined the magic for me a little.

The tombstone speaker and cassette tape
The components we are all here for

I like the premise of this game. The idea that you are looking for silence was cute, and a nice shift away from Girl Talk: Date Line where silence is no good. The combinations of keys causing rooms to be haunted for one player and not another was a neat idea. The problem is that players can probably figure out what is happening by studying key combinations during any turn and then determine visually which path is safe for them, because all the keys are showing all the time. And then it’s just a roll-off.

My copy is missing a single room key, so we just let players pass through that room for free. And we all took advantage of that. I don’t think it was a huge impact; we still had plenty of road to travel.

A view of our play
Our play with a spooky Mickey playing substitute pawn

Near the end of our gameplay we were all stacked up near the tower. Bill and John in particular were making a run for it. In the end Bill got better rolls, and Bill won Shrieks & Creaks!

play or pass

A hesitant pass. I love spooky games, and the idea of a cassette tape that plays hauntings of a mansion is right up my alley on paper. But we already played a game like this, and we already know the trick here. And more than that, the execution left us struggling to pretend we didn’t know exactly what to do.