Hidden Movement Happens Quickly in ‘Dark Is the Night’

Gaming Tabletop Games

Dark Is the Night game

Somewhere in the darkness, just beyond the glow of a dying campfire, something evil lurks. A hunter is awakened from her slumber by a guttural growl and all her senses are immediately on alert. With limited ammo for her crossbow, can she survive the night or will the Monster prevail, in this two-player game for players 10 and up that plays in 15 minutes or less.

Dark Is the Night Components

In a box about the size of your phone (but much deeper) there are a handful of components. You’ll find:

  • 1 Game board
  • 1 Monster move dial
  • 1 Plastic hunter figure
  • 2 Crossbow tokens
  • 1 Bell trap token
  • 1 Mutton token
  • 1 Monster feint token
  • 1 Sun token

The game board folds out into a decent size, considering the box it fits in. On it is a 3 x 3 grid with the artwork for a campfire in the center. Light fills the nine squares of the grid but beyond it is darkness. On the perimeter of the grid are numbers to designate spaces in the forest. At the bottom of the board is a sun tracker, which is triggered toward the end of the game.

The crossbow tokens are double-sided–normal bolts on one side and flaming arrows on the other. The bell trap token is the same on both sides and shows a double coilspring trap with a bell attached to it. The mutton is the same on both sides and depicts a cartoonish leg of lamb. The monster feint token is the only hint we get of what is lurking in the dark. It is a dark creature with red eyes and its body menacingly crouched low in a prowl. All of the tokens are about the size of a nickel. The sun tracker token is a bit smaller and has its center punched so players can see the number beneath it on the sun track.

The monster dial is pretty straightforward. It has a cutout that shows a number from 1 to 12, representing the spaces around the outside of the grid and keeps track of where the monster is currently lurking.

The hunter mini is great and an unexpected addition to a small box game. It’s a young girl taking a cautious step. She’s wearing a cape and the mini shows her loaded crossbow and single extra bolt in her quiver, just as she has in the game. It’s no surprise that it all looks good; the artwork was done by Mr. Cuddington.

The hunter mini from Dark Is the Night

How do you play Dark Is the Night?


OK, see if you can follow along: Set the board in the middle of the table.

You also have to give the player who is the monster the dial and the feint token. The hunter gets everything else. You’re now ready to play.


The first thing both players do is choose a starting spot. The monster goes first and turns the monster move dial to the space in the darkness where the monster will hide. The monster keeps the dial hidden from the hunter throughout the game. Next, the hunter picks one of the eight squares around the fire and puts her miniature there. Then, the monster announces which sector of the map it’s located in. The map is marked A, B, C, D for the cardinal directions. The monster announces one of these letters as the section it is in. The hunter gets to go first.

On each turn, the hunter and the monster both have to move. Additionally, each may take an action, but it’s not required. The hunter has to stay in one of the eight squares around the fire and cannot move into the darkness. She can’t move through the fire (because that would hurt) and cannot move diagonally. Movement can never skip spaces.

Tokens from Dark Is the Night

The hunter’s actions include:

  • Basic attack — The hunter may attack into the darkness from the square where she is positioned. If on a corner, she must choose which area of darkness by identifying the targeted area by number.
  • Crossbow — She has two bolts and she can shoot them in two ways. First, she can just fire the crossbow. The bolt must fly orthogonally from her position. If it hits the monster, it is eliminated. Second, if she is adjacent to the campfire, she can fire the bolt through the fire and light up a space in the darkness. This dark space is now lit for the rest of the game and if the monster walks through that illuminated space, it must tell the hunter it is there. However, if the lit bolt hits the monster, it does no damage. Sad trombone.
  • Bell trap — The hunter can place the bell trap anywhere in the darkness, regardless of where she is. The trap stays in that spot until the monster moves off the space, at which point the bell rings, the hunter is alerted and the trap is removed because it’s now broken.
  • Mutton — Mmmmmm, anyone have garlic and rosemary? The scent of mutton is strong and when the token is placed in the darkness (any square just like the bell trap), the monster must immediately move one square closer to the mutton. Next, the monster must tell the hunter how many squares away it is from the mutton. The token is then removed and the hunter’s turn ends. The monster’s turn begins and it may immediately move.

Monster dial from Dark Is the Night

The monster’s actions include:

  • Basic attack — The monster may attack into the light if the hunter is adjacent to the space the monster occupies.
  • Monster feint — In place of movement and action, the monster can play the monster feint, which accounts for its entire turn. The monster places the feint token on the space it currently occupies, showing the hunter where it currently is. The monster may then move (on its dial) zero, one, or two spaces away from the hunter.

If, at any time, the monster hits the hunter or the hunter hits the monster, the game ends. (Attacks can’t occur in the first round.) After the hunter uses her last token, the sun tracker begins ticking down. Just five rounds are allowed after the final hunter token is used.

Gameplay from Dark Is the Night

Why You Should Play Dark Is the Night

Ape Games has a few games like Dark Is the Night: small box, two-player games that play quickly. There’s something refreshing about a fun, little game that doesn’t try to be anything more than a rich and simple filler experience.

Dark Is the Night is a delicious cat and mouse adventure. It rewards memory, like all hidden movement games, and the tokens are an excellent way of forcing gameplay to move quickly. We like hidden movement games at our house, but most require us to carve out a good 60-90 minutes. Dark Is the Night scratches that itch very nicely in about ten minutes’ time and the components are small enough you can stuff them in a small bag and put it in your pocket. The theme is strong for a game of this nature and it’s fun to take turns, switching roles each game.

Dark Is the Night was Kickstarted, but is available at retail now for $20.00.

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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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