Zombies and drunk people really aren’t that much different — this is what a new Japanese card game is trying to prove with its mechanics.

“Izakaya of the Dead” is a hidden identity card game that takes place at an izakaya (居酒屋), a type of casual bar that’s a common after-work drinking place in Japan. Because of their often inexpensive and convenient nature, it’s easy enough to get so drunk in izakayas to the point of just being capable of grunting instead of actual speech.

This grunting is a key component of Izakaya of the Dead. The game is for 2 to 6 players, and players are only allowed to grunt vowel sounds or use one-handed gestures throughout the game (because the other hand is supposed to be keeping a tight grip on their drink).

At the start of the game, players get randomly assigned roles. One player plays the zombie amongst a group of grunting drunkards, and nobody is supposed to know what the other players’ roles are. Players also get a menu card with a list of food items that are commonly served in izakayas.

Players take turns to order a menu item by using only the game’s limited communication system (grunting or one-handed gestures), and the goal of the drunkards is to guess one order right.

The goal of the zombie, on the other hand, is to mess up the others’ orders. If at the end of everyone’s turn, not a single order was guessed correctly, drunkards then need to guess who the zombie is, and the zombie needs to stay undetected in order to win.

The game can be a lighthearted source of entertainment while also allowing for some elements of roleplaying and learning about Japan’s izakaya culture along the way. It was created by EJP Games, a board game and card game production group that’s produced other games with other supernatural elements.

Izakaya of the Dead can be purchased for 1,000 yen through online shopping sites listed on the game’s webpage. Other game details and rules can be viewed here (Japanese website).


By - Jen Santelices.