Now, I need to preface this with a little confession: I don’t play scary video games. And there’s a reason for that. While I love scary movies, scary books, and scary podcasts I can’t seem to play a scary video game. I have a pretty vivid imagination and that leads to some pretty horrific nightmares and night terrors, even as an adult. It’s easier to separate myself from movies, books, and podcasts because, while I’m hearing the story, they aren’t quite as immersive as a video game. I tried a horror video game once… Until Dawn… and it gave me nightmares for a week. And I barely made it through the first hour or so of gameplay. So the games I play at Halloween/all year long because who doesn’t love a good scare, are mostly tabletop. I do list one video game – it isn’t horror but it’s definitely suspenseful!
Betrayal At House on the Hill
Easily my favorite game to play at Halloween. In this tabletop coop you and your group are explorers within a haunted house – but you don’t know it’s haunted. Based on a series of cards drawn and dice rolled you eventually discover why the house is haunted. When the haunt begins the combination of cards drawn dictate you toward one of 50 scenarios in which one of the players becomes a “traitor” and the game becomes all against one. This game is incredible, especially when played with the right ambiance of dim lights, spooky music (I highly recommend Midnight Syndicate – especially the album listed in my Top Spooky Music post), and people who are willing to get into the atmosphere!
I love this game so much. We have a set of friends that we play long, complex games with and they introduced us to this one. Again, it’s a cooperative tabletop game but this one takes place in the mythical world of H.P. Lovecraft. There are several scenarios, each involving a new Arkham “boss” monster, including (obiously) one with Cthulhu. Each of the scenarios brings new challenges to what is already a fairly complex game. Add in some luck of the dice rolls and an increasing sense of panic to complete the game and you have the perfect creepy horror game for any Halloween night.
The Last of Us
Ah, here it is, the one lone, intense video game. Now, I know this isn’t a “horror” game, but there are moments in this zombie thriller that will get your heart racing. I’m not the biggest fan of zombie games, or the whole zombie genre, but this one is special. With epic storytelling and a realistic zombie plague – there is actually a fungus that behaves eerily similar in real life, called the Cordyceps fungus – this game starts out with a creepy overtone. But add in a few truly frightening moments (anyone remember the hotel basement?) and you’ve got a recipe for the perfect spooky Halloween game.
Now, this one isn’t scary, but how could I possibly leave out a Mario game about a haunted house!? This game is wonderful, in the vein of other classic Mario games, but with a few Luigi twists that really make that character stand out. Add in a few ghosts and some tricky puzzles and you’ve got a great Halloween game you can play to get you or your kids in the spirit of the holiday!
Yet another tabletop game based in a haunted house but this one feels a lot more like a version of Clue. Instead of discovering the murderer of the recently deceased, however, you’re a set of mediums receiving visions through one of the players, acting as the ghost. Through a series of rounds the ghost must covey their clues to the mediums through basic visions to help them discover the location, weapon, and suspect of their murder. While this game is a little less creepy and a lot more fun, it’s still a fantastic Halloween game, particularly for those who prefer a their games a little less frightening. Trust me, you’ll enjoy this one. Especially if you like a good who-done-it!
This little gem was introduced to me by our dear friend over at Adventure Rules, Ian. I’ve just started to get into tabletop RPG and Ian very kindly suggested this as a good introduction. Now, I haven’t actually played this game. I keep trying to make it happen but I can’t find people to play with me/haven’t been able to find the time to prep for it. I’m hopeful it’ll happen before the end of the month. But from the descriptions, from the way Ian explained it, and the photos, it looks like a truly terrifying game! Played using candlelight and character sheets that you literally burn, it has all the hallmarks of a good, solid scare. Just be careful – if you have a good game master you may not sleep that night.