Pyscho Raiders is another great triumph from game designers Nate Hayden and artist extraordinaire Mat Brinkman, who also created the magnificent necro-brawl Cave Evil.
This time the self-styled Emperors of Eternal Evil have made a slasher movie experience in a chrome-laden wargame format, and the result is the most intensely thematic boardgame that I have ever played. The oppressive atmosphere is especially heavy when you are playing the victims...ahem, campers...who are very underpowered in their asymmetrical match against the inexorable pack of masked killers. The latter may be armed with a chain that has a spikes at the end or a primitive mace or a flamethrower. The campers (victims) might have a crowbar or a stick.
One many reasons Psycho Raiders is far, far better than its closest comparison Camp Grizzy is that Psycho Raiders is very open in terms of terrain and actions--this is a quite large hex grid like the kind found in wargames with varied terrains and applicable modifiers. The actions are also widely varied: Characters can run, (attempt to) hotwire vehicles, ram a van into a car, hold a person still so that a flanking character can lovingly apply a blow torch, blow up a gas pump, conceal themselves in the bathroom to regain their composure, scream for help, and hide, which is implemented in a very clever "fog of war"-style multiple chit mechanic. Other great ideas are the town events--like weather changes that alter visibility--and the townsfolk, whose alliances and helpfulness will be unclear to the fleeing victims. And the ubiquitous blackness of the components and primitive brilliance of Brinkman's art only heighten the grim mood.
The vast array of choices/actions present herein compare to those of a sandbox game--Grand Theft Auto turned into a slasher horror movie--but since the goals are so immediate, defined, and desperate, there's no time for dallying. Every action counts and death comes swiftly.