You are exploring a seriously haunted house, trying to rescue four children or die trying. That’s actually pretty much the entire theme of the game but it doesn’t need to be anymore than that.
Shuffle the deck and go through each card, one at a time. The aces are the four kids you’re trying to save. The queens are gentle spirits who will heal you. Deuces don’t do anything. Everything else is trying to kill you. The dice come in to resolve threes through tens. Roll equal or over or take some damage.
Haunted House:Save the Children commits one of the cardinal sins of game design in my worldview. There are absolutely no choices involved. You flip over a card and do whatever the rules tell you to do.
Shockingly, this doesn’t offend me that much. That’s because the game didn’t even cost me printer ink. All I had to do was get out some game components I use so much I don’t even actually put them away.
There are a variety of variant rules. They do things like add flavor text and tables of random events and increase the odds of dying horrible. They don’t actually add any choices though :D
Years ago, I picked up a game called Adventurer: Card Game that did the exact same thing. The only difference is that it had thematic illustrations and cost money. Having to pay for the experience, that enraged me to the point that I haven’t forgotten or forgiven an otherwise completely forgettable game.
Yes, being free and construction free actually makes me not mind Haunted House.
Haunted House isn’t a game I can really recommend. If you’re looking for a free game for a mental coffee break, there are plenty of more interesting choices. However, I did have fun being able to try it out without any effort.