It’s October which means it’s the beginning of Spooky Game Season! Now, Spooky Game Season is completely made-up and I will happily play any of these games any time of the year. But there’s something about the crisp morning air, the leaves turning yellow and scarlet, and the smell of hot cider that just puts me in the mood for some horror-themed games.
Most of these are games that I have had the pleasure of playing at least once, and the rest are games that I don’t currently have access to but have caught my eye and I want to try. Without further ado, here are the top 10 Spooky Games I want to play this October:
A silly way to test your memory and skills as a sketch artist
This party game based on memory and drawing is probably the least-spooky on this list. Players take turns being “the Witness” and have 20 seconds to examine a picture of a monster. Afterwards, they describe what they saw to the rest of the players, the “sketch artists” and they draw what is described. Points are awarded to the artist who’s creation most closely matches the original drawing.
This is not a game I currently own but it has caught my eye. It sounds like the type of game that I can enjoy with my kids and adult friends, so it has my interest.
Mechanics: Line Drawing, Memory, Voting
9. Betrayal Legacy
Explore a spooky haunted house generation after generation…
Betrayal at the House on the Hill is the type of game I should love. Explore a haunted house and eventually one character betrays the party. I have played a few times and have always found the “Haunt” phase to be a bit clunky. A poor haunt, whether it was written poorly or the player doesn’t know how to execute it, can completely ruin an otherwise fun experience.
So one may be wondering exactly why I’d be interested in trying Betrayal Legacy. It’s hard for me to answer that – I don’t want to read much about it for fear of spoiling the experience but I have heard glowing reviews about this game. With the right group this could be a really fun, spooky experience that takes place over several evenings. My hope is that the Haunt phase would be a more smooth experience and that the storyline continues in a satisfying way for each generation.
Mechanics: Cooperative, Legacy, Modular Board, Dice Rolling, Traitor
8. Mysterium Park
Cooperative murder mystery at a creepy carnival
There was a murder at the creepy carnival and a group of paranormal investigators are on the case, hoping to solve the mystery. They are not alone – they have help from the murder victim who is able to send them visions in dreams to exonerate the innocent parties and locations. If the investigators are able to successfully eliminate subjects in time, the killer and the murder scene may be deduced!
Mysterium Park takes the concept of its big brother Mysterium and distills it down into a more approachable game. It cuts out a lot of bloat and makes the job of the ghost much more manageable. Because of this, Mysterium Park is easier to get to the table. Whenever people ask me which one to get, I always recommend the little sibling.
Mechanics: Cooperative, Deduction, Pattern Recognition
7. Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein
A competitive game of strategic monster-building
I have never actually played this game, but the subject matter caught my attention and it has become a “must try” for me. I read Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein in high school and it has stuck with me.
Players must gather and manage their decomposing materials, conduct research at the Academy of Science, hire assistants, and work in their labs in an attempt to create life. The game has a storyline that is shaped by your decisions as well.
I admit to knowing very little about this game but the subject matter intrigues me and I hope to give it a try one day. It looks a little ghoulish and grotesque which is right up my alley.
Mechanics: Dice Rolling, Narrative Choice, Set Collection
6. Campy Creatures
Set collection and bidding with a light, campy tone
Have you ever wanted to be a mad scientist with a horde of monster lackeys to do your will? I mean, who hasn’t?
In Campy Creatures you send out a monster to collect mortals for… experiments… Unfortunately this town is full of other mad scientists with identical creatures competing for prime human parts. Monsters have special abilities and will clash with each other over the right to take home the best prizes.
This game is a lot of fun to play with a group. It shares similar mechanics to Libertalia and Go Nuts for Donuts but with a macabre, campy twist.
Mechanics: Auction / Bidding, Hand Management, Set Collection, Bluffing
5. Victim: The Cursed Forest
Horror survival with a betrayal element
In this horror survival game a group of players must work cooperatively to escape a spooky forest. Partway through the game one character will succumb to the Evil that is lurking among the trees. Wendigo, Werewolf, Ghost… There are several evil creatures that could take control.
After this the cooperative nature of the game changes into a 1-vs-Many cat and mouse chase. The team must work quickly to solve the code to get into a bunker, all while the possessed player hunts them down.
I love the concept here – the cursed player should have fun hunting their friends and the rest have a feeling of real tension doing everything they can to get to safety. I will be playing this one several times this October and hope to include the expansion (Asylum) soon.
Mechanics: Cooperative, Semi-Cooperative, Dice Rolling, Traitor, Tile Placement
Tense SciFi survival horror in space
You wake from hypersleep to see one of your crewmates has died in a mysterious, grisly fashion. Groggy from your space nap you and your crewmates have lost your bearings and can’t remember the layout of the space ship that you’re traveling on. It doesn’t take long before you all realize that you are not alone on this ship – a horrifying extraterrestrial presence is hunting you.
This is a semi-cooperative, hidden-objective game that is high on tension. Luck is a factor, and it’s not for everybody, but this game provides a cinematic storytelling experience unlike any other game I have ever played. It’s a must-play for fans of Sci-Fi horror thrillers such as the Alien franchise.
Mechanics: Cooperative, Semi-Cooperative, Dice Rolling, Hidden Roles
3. The Bloody Inn
Horrifying historical “gamer’s game” where players are the real monsters
The Bloody Inn is easily the most disturbing game in my collection because it’s based upon true events that happened in France during the 1830s (look up: “Auberge rouge” for details). In this game you are part of a family of greedy innkeepers that are making their fortune by robbing, bribing, and murdering their guests. Players must carefully draft and manage multi-use cards in order to make profits all while avoiding the suspicions of the police.
In this game you will bury bodies beneath buildings, figure out how to “manage” law enforcement officers, bribe guests and launder money. Every single action you take is completely despicable… and it is tight, crunchy and I love it. If you can get past the stomach-turning subject matter it is worth your consideration.
Mechanics: Card Drafting, Hand Management, Multi-Use Cards
2. Horrified / Horrified: American Monsters
Campy cooperative fun for the whole family
In Horrified players will have the opportunity to come face-to-face with classic monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and his bride, the Invisible Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy and the Wolf Man. Will your team be able to rid the town of this terrible infestation and save the villagers before the town becomes too terrorized?
Horrified is a game I have had fun playing with both adults and kids. The horror is very mild and campy, never gruesome. And some of the problems that are to be solved are downright wholesome. If you can get the Frankenstein monster and his ladyfriend in touch with their humanity then introduce them to each other, they stop terrorizing the village. You can collect ingredients to create a cure for the werewolf at the lab… But the Invisible Man is not redeemable and he needs to just go to jail.
Horrified: American Monsters is very similar, I believe. I still hope to add it to my collection when it becomes available. I want to play with Bigfoot! This game also features Mothman, the Jersey Devil, the Chupacabra, the Banshee of the Badlands, and the Ozark Howler. As much as I love the campy Universal Studios monsters, cryptids hold more appeal to me.
Mechanics: Cooperative, Pick Up and Delivery, Dice Rolling
1. Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Thematic explorative mystery infused with Lovecraftian Horror
The writings of H.P. Lovecraft had (and continues to have) a profound influence on pop culture. I will be the first to admit that I am not a “Cthulu Person” however I do recognize that a lot of the stories, games, and movies that I love would not exist without Lovecraft’s influence. His themes include fear of the unknown, fear of what is beyond our comprehension, fear of our own insignificance in the cosmos… stuff that resonates deeply with many of us.
Mansions of Madness is set in the Arkham Universe with several story-driven scenarios that allow the players to explore mysterious locations. Bad things ensue, people get hurt and go mad… It’s more of an experience than a game at times, and that is fine by me. I know the use of apps to drive board games can be a bit controversial, but in this case it is well-done and I cannot imagine the game without it.
This game is dripping with theme and atmosphere. Watching a friend go mad is particularly fun because you know their goals may have changed, but you don’t know if it is minor, or if they are going to stab everybody in the back. And that is extremely fun! In true Lovecraftian fashion, successful completion of a scenario does not always guarantee a happy ending. I can’t think of a more appropriate game to play during Spooky Game Season.
Mechanics: Cooperative, Dice Rolling, App Integration