Sometimes I have really high hopes for a product. This is especially the case when I see potential in an up-and-starter of sorts. So when the creator of Bitten reached out to give me a review sample of the game I was suitably excited.
Smart with its theme, Bitten is an adult board game where you play two vampires going on a romp around town. It involves accessories, taps into the slightly off-trend sex appeal of the undead, and costs less than a cup of Starbucks coffee. Sounds promising, right?
Unfortunately Bitten failed to win me over. While this game has promise in its concept the actual gameplay wasn’t enough for me to sink my teeth into.
Bitten, An Erotic Board Game for Couples
In terms of its premise Bitten is a pretty straightforward game. In essence you play two vampires who are travelling to different locations in a fancy manor throughout the night, finally culminating in the crypt where you lay each other to rest.
The game itself comprises of three pdfs which explain the games rules and provide the printable board game and charts required. In terms of everything else you need to stock your own items. This includes (but is not limited to) two decks of cards, seven dice, and two-three game pieces. These game pieces then move from room to room (with a ‘foreplay’ mini-game of sorts in between them) where you each take turn drawing cards from the room. The room and the card that you draw determine the actions that you do in each room and each players has to draw a minimum of three cards (and thus do a total of six different actions) per room.
Before I get into the downsides of this game I have to say that I really do like some of the concepts being explored here. For example each room has a different theme based on the room itself and the themes attempt to increase the ante as you go along. For example the Foyer (where you start) is a room where the cards are centered on kissing and undressing. Meanwhile the Dining Room is all about oral actions and licking. This thematic approach is a rather nice way to go about things and does add a playful-but-structured element to the game.
The rules also give suggestions for preparation, such as music recommendations, which I really like. It’s another very nice touch of the game.
Sadly that is some of the only praise that I can personally give this game.
Considering the title layout for this game, the fact that you need miniatures, and the overall premise I was expecting a game inspired (if only in part) by Vampire: the Requiem or similar White Wolf games. To me this game felt like it way trying to appeal to a board-game and tabletop roleplaying crowd but in reality there were so many elements lacking that it would probably infuriate most tabletop gamers.
‘Pick up a card and look at the grid for instructions’ is a pretty simple system but the instructions didn’t typically offer the best guidance. For example, some rare card options would have time limits on them but most wouldn’t so when Mr. Peaches got the result ‘Rob your partner’s genitals over their clothes’ (the game’s typo, not mine) his first question was “Uhm, for how long?”. Yes, sexual acts should be personal to some degree but guidance is useful too.
When it got down to it drawing a card then getting a separate sheet of paper to check the chart to figure out what to do next also became pretty tedious and kept us in a constant state of broken immersion. Charts are a fantastic tool when it comes to board games but I’m not too sure that they have as strong a place in the adult board game genre.
We also had questions such as:
- What do you do if a card asks you to use an accessory you don’t have? The game says you can omit accessories but doesn’t offer a clear alternative which is frustrating.
- How do you move in the game? Yes it’s a grid based system but can you move diagonally or not?
- Do you draw a new card as soon as you move into a new room or does your turn end when you enter a new room?
You may say that these things can be fixed with house rules but I say they shouldn’t have to be! At the very least the player should be able to play the game with some confidence concerning its core mechanics. We couldn’t really do that.
There’s also a rather confusing aspect to winning the game. The rules state that ‘Whichever player ends up with the best poker hand at the end of the game wins’. But when and how is the end of the game determined? Is it when you get to the crypt? Is it when you’ve used up all of the cards on the board? Is it when you say it’s over? Honestly I don’t know because the game doesn’t tell me.
It also doesn’t say what happens when you win.
In most adult card games winning comes with a certain little reward, or perhaps even kick-starts the main event of the game. However in Bitten it just says you win depending on your poker hand and that’s it. No indication of what that means.
It can’t mean sex because sex is what the crypt is all about, so what is the actual benefit of winning? If there is none then why should I be checking to see what poker hand I have instead of enjoying a post-sex cuddle? As it stands there is no point to winning this game.
Because you move through certain rooms through rolling the dice there is also a real possibility of even more immersion breaking via dice actions. Remember that dice foreplay mini-game I told you about earlier? Yeah, well that involved yet another chart except this time it comes with the added fun of maths as you add up the results of your dice. Again, fine in a normal board game, a bit of a kill-joy in an adult card game.
During our gameplay we also noticed that if you have bad rolls then you may not be able to get into a room while your partner is already there drawing cards. This at one point lead to a really awkward yo-yo where I was in the Crypt pulling cards for sex moves but in between that we also had to pause to roll for Mr. Peaches, add up his results, check the chart and have him caress my face or something like that. If just reading that sounds frustrating imagine what it’s like actually being in that situation.
We also personally found that the cards didn’t offer much room for a reasonable build up and were especially neglectful of people who needed clitoral action to get off. One moment Mr. Peaches was scratching my back the next he was ‘impaling’ me with a dildo. Not ideal. Oh and, for the record, I’ve learnt from first-hand experience that ‘spread[ing] your labia like bats wings’ is not a sexy move.
We didn’t have sex during this game at any point. We were either too busy laughing or too busy trying to puzzle out the gaps in the rules. Come the end we really did just want it to be over.
You may think I’m being harsh here but that’s probably because this game actively prevented me from having sex. Whenever Mr. Peaches played it he was just so not in the mood afterwards that sex was pretty much a non-option. Or, as he put it, “This game does for sex what Twilight did for vampires” and, for us, that’s not a good thing.
That’s not to say that this game isn’t without merit. Some of the ideas are genuinely creative and/or sweet and I feel like if you really, really wanted to get immersed in it then you could. Plus at £3.31 this game is so inexpensive that the price justifies itself even if you only get a few creative ideas out of it. But as a game I wouldn’t want to play it ever again.
As one last gripe I feel like this game could have really benefitted from a bit more of a story or roleplaying element to it. While Twilight may not be to my preference vampire erotica has a very strong market and setting the scene for this game via some flavour text may have really worked to its advantage. As it stands all you have are some bare bones rules and some creative ideas. Which isn’t a bad thing but neither does it make for a particularly compelling or cohesive game either.
I can’t help but see Bitten as a work-in-progress first draft rather than a fully fleshed out and ready to publish game. The premise isn’t terrible, and neither are some of the erotic acts, but the implementation of this game is poorly done and needs to real work in order to act as a legitimately sexual experience.
With all that being said I am still rooting for Bitten. I believe with some time, effort, and more play testing this game can get out of its current alpha-mode vibes and, on that day, I’ll be willing to slip my fangs on once again.
People looking for some creative ideas.
People who don’t mind lots of house rules.
People who are easily immersed.
Do Not Recommend to:
People looking for a streamlined game.
People who have minimal accessories.
Recreational tabletop gamers.
Bitten was provided to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review.