Dementalism: A Mindbending Memory Game Reviewed

William T. Thrasher

Since it's release I've had the honor of playing Dementalism with its sick and twisted creator fantasy illustrator Andy Hopp (illustrator of Where The Deep Ones Are and Cliffourd The Big Red God) at Con On The Cob in Hudson, Ohio and Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas. What is Dementalism? It's a memory game set in the world of Andy Hopp's Low Life, the post-apocalyptic world of living filth piles and intelligent snack cakes first explored in a Savage Worlds RPG.

In Dementalism players must explore the world or Low Life (represented by a grid of face-down cards) and attempt to capture escaped beasties and their clones. Like most memory games, players turn over a number of cards and claim any matches they find and putting them into a stack. However, what sets Dementalism apart is just how much memory is involved. You aren't just keeping track of what's face-down in the middle of the table. You're also keeping track of the cards other players have claimed, as well as your own. You see, all claimed cards are kept face-down in front of the player that claimed them, and you can't look at your own claimed cards. This is important, because if you turn over a card that you think matches cards claimed by another player, you can attempt to snag the other player's cards by correctly identifying which claimed stack contains the match. If your choose incorrectly, woe be upon you.

That's just the basic mechanics. As play progresses, the game becomes more complicated as players uncover special cards such as Beasts, Giggidies, and horrible bad things that change the flow of the game. Also, whenever you claim three matching cards in a stack, you gain a special ability you can use during your turn to swing the game in your favor, or away from the favor of another player.

Some of Andy Hopp's card designs. Who wants lunch?

However, while play progresses quickly, a single game of Dementalism can take quite some time. Play doesn't end until all cards have been claimed or discarded, and with one expansion already published and another on the way, this can lead to some very long games. Also, because there are a number of cards that can reverse turn order, a player can find themselves in the unfortunate position of being unable to take any turns while one or more players across the table take several.

Aside from the innovative mechanics, what really shines in Dementalism are the card illustrations and humor dredged up from the talents of Andy Hopp. All the cards are illustrated in full color in Andy's signature style. My personal favorite is the Sockstrocity, a shambling monster made from a thousand dirty socks.

If you're looking for a humorous memory game that requires a lot of memory, look no further than Dementalism. And if you like Dementalism and can't get enough, Andy is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the productions of several new expansions for the game.