Hey there Active Players! It’s October, which means it’s time to get spooky! We have selected 13 games for the Halloween season, separated into 3 different categories: The Classics, The New/Not as Heavily Featured, and Your Favorite Game Mechanics but Zombie-Themed. Whether you’re looking for a quick 10-minute game or a three-hour tour, a party game or a 2-player game, we’ve got you covered.
These are the games that you’ll see on several other lists, but we like them so much we have to include them anyway.
Betrayal at House on the Hill/Betrayal Legacy : Avalon Hill
If you’ve followed Active Player Network and read pretty much any of our Player Character interviews, you’ll know that Betrayal at House on the Hill is an excellent gateway game. You star as characters in a B horror movie, and as you explore the haunted house you lay out different room tiles, creating a new house every time you play. Once the “haunt” is triggered, one of you becomes the traitor, and it becomes one player versus the others. It’s a very easy-to-learn game and has tremendous replayability. For those of you who already own it and have played through all 50 of the haunts (or you just love expansions), check out the expansion: Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk. And if you want the choices you’ve made in a previous game to carry over, try Betrayal: Legacy, where you play as different generations of the same family.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Bezier Games
Do you like bluffing games? Werewolf was one of the OGs. One or more of you are werewolves terrorizing the town, and the rest of you are various villagers, some with special powers such as the ability to swap or steal cards, trying to find and kill that werewolf. There’s no board, it’s just you and your friends, in a room, yelling at each other. You have a limited amount of time to argue your case about who you think is a werewolf, and you don’t want to get the wrong person accused or else an innocent villager will die and the werewolf will run free to kill again. One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a short-and-sweet version, and an excellent party game for up to 10 players. It even has an app to talk you through the “open your eyes, look around, close your eyes,” opening sequence. If you’ve played this game before and you always get grumpy when you’re just a normal villager, try the Daybreak expansion, in which everyone has a special power.
Fury of Dracula: WizKids
Another option for the one-versus-many style game, Fury of Dracula has one player as the titular Count, and the rest as famous hunters trying to work together to bring him down. The hunters will be trying to find Dracula’s trail and kill him, while Dracula will be trying to elude the hunters and increase his influence until he has taken over the world! Well, at least Europe. There have been 4 editions of this game, with the most recent being published by WizKids, and each edition has streamlined the rules and produced better components. But hey, if you’re a collector, track ‘em all down before you take on Dracula.
Gloom: Atlas Games
Making other people happy is supposed to make you happy, right? Well in this game, you’re trying to make your characters as miserable as possible. Each player controls one family, and you want to bestow the worst possible circumstances upon your family, while preventing the other families from being too sad by giving them good things. It’s all very backwards. First player to humiliate their family enough to kill them off, wins! This game sounds super morbid, but is actually quite lighthearted and farcical due to the artwork and the nature of the mishaps.
The New/Not as Heavily Featured
Here you’ll find some games that aren’t as popular or well-known, but have caught our attention for one reason or another. Definitely a good place to look if you’ve played the previously-listed games or want to find something a little different.
Escape Tales: Low Memory/The Awakening: Board and Dice
Spooky Escape Rooms in a box! We’ve talked about these games before, but we’re SUPER excited about Escape Tales: Low Memory, which should be hitting game store shelves on October 24th, just in time for Halloween. It looks like Black Mirror as an escape game, and we are all about it. And if it’s anything like Escape Tales: The Awakening, the game is replayable, with multiple endings and story paths! Gather yourself and up to three of your friends, and then the next night find three MORE friends. These are the perfect options if you want a cooperative, but still spooky, game night.
Nyctophobia: Pandasaurus Games
This is a 1 vs. Many game mechanic with a bit of a twist: the many are wearing blackout glasses and cannot see the board. Your goal is to stumble your way into each other, find the getaway car, and avoid the Hunter (played by the 1 player). This is a game that involves all the senses and really gets you invested in the story, which is only aided by the Hunter player also acting as a Game Master of sorts as they guide the players’ hands on the board. The Hunter player can really get into it too, making noise on the board so that the other players hear them coming, or providing other sensory effects. Out of game talking generates noise tokens and alerts the Hunter to where you are. You are completely enveloped in the experience, and if you’re afraid of the dark, or getting chased, or just being scared in general… well you’re going to hate this in all the best ways.
Kids on Bikes: Renegade Game Studios and Hunters Entertainment
You didn’t think we would make it through a list without including at least one RPG, did you? Kids on Bikes is a horror-themed collaborative RPG where you play normal people dealing with some paranormal forces. You get different stat boosts based on if you play a kid, a teenager, or an adult, and it has an incredibly accessible mechanics system good for newcomers to RPGs, or people who just want something nice and easy to change up their RPGs. It absolutely feels like one of those nostalgic 80s stories like E.T, The Goonies, or Stranger Things.
It: Evil Below: The OP
Speaking of nostalgic 80s stories! It’s always nice to work together trying not to die, and It: Evil Below is a great new co-op game to scratch that itch. You play as members of the Losers Club trying to make your way through the town of Derry and defeat Pennywise before he amasses too much influence, too many victims, or just flat out kills you. If you like those “million ways to lose but only one way to win” co-op games, you’ll love this one. It has a strong theme, great art, and fun game mechanics.
Disney Villainous: Ravensburger
It feels good to bad! This insanely popular game offers you a unique experience with each villain you play, and with 6 villains in the base game and 3 in each expansion you’ll have a ton of ways to be crowned the fairest of them all. Each villain has a different end goal, and you have to try to achieve yours while simultaneously trying to prevent the other players from achieving theirs. It requires a lot of strategy, just like any good Disney villain has.
Villainous also has two standalone expansions: Wicked to the Core gives you the Evil Queen from Snow White, Dr. Facilier from Princess and the Frog, and Hades from Hercules, while Evil Comes Prepared gives you Scar from The Lion King, Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove, and Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective (where else can you find love for that incredibly underrated movie?). You can play with any of the three, but once you see how differently each villain plays, you’ll probably want to buy them all.
Your Favorite Game Mechanics, but Zombie-Themed
Kind of self-explanatory.
Zombie Dice: Steve Jackson Games
Zombie Dice is a press-your-luck dice rolling game. You, as a zombie, want to eat people and not get shot. You can keep re-rolling your dice trying to get brains and not get shot, or you can stop early and play it safe. It is probably the shortest game to play on this list and has the easiest rules, so it’s also a good game to play before/after trick-or-treating.
Zombie Fluxx: Looney Labs
Fluxx is the game where the rules are constantly changing, and you never really know what’s going to happen next. You’re trying to survive the changing rules, survive the zombie apocalypse, and achieve the goal before someone plays a new goal card and dramatically alters the direction of the game. It’s a fast-paced game that usually runs around 15-20 minutes, unless you have that one player who would rather stop you from winning at the expense of losing themselves (everyone stop looking at me okay?!). It offers great replayability and works as a good opener or palette cleanser.
Munchkin Zombies: Steve Jackson Games
Munchkin is likely the most well-known screw-over-your-friend game, and Munchkin Zombies is pretty self-explanatory. Now you get to screw over your friends and be a zombie! This particular iteration of Munchkin has some hilarious cards, particularly for the types of “armor” you can put on.
Tiny Epic Zombies: Gamelyn Games
With zombie-themed games you have to either play as the zombies, or play as the people killing the zombies. But like, why not both? The cool thing about Tiny Epic Zombies is that it is actually 5 different gameplay styles in one: you have two different cooperative modes (one in which it’s all of you versus game-controlled zombies, and one where one player controls the zombies), two different competitive modes (one in which you’re free for all-ing against game-controlled zombies, and one where one player controls the zombies), and then a solo mode! Each one has similar objectives and mechanics, but the gameplay feels different each time. As with all of the Tiny Epic games, it is condensed into a small box perfect for fitting in a purse, backpack, or slightly large pocket, so it’s easy to take around with you and bust out when the need arises.
Which of these games are you most looking forward to trying next? Do you already have a favorite? Let us know in the comments and get your spooky on!