If ever there were a Halloween in which to break out the horror board games and card games for kids, it is this one. No matter how different the holiday looks this year, Halloween is definitely not canceled. In fact we would argue that we all need a good, wholesome fake scare more than ever this year. And that’s where these spooky games come in.
Horror games have a huge advantage over scary movies when it comes to planning your at-home Halloween celebrations: They rely a lot more on the imagination than on super gory special effects and suspense, which means fewer nightmares for everyone. We would like fun scares, not the kind that will have our children waking up screaming in the middle of the night. So, while it seems rather gruesome to imagine the murder of Mr. Boddy in Clue, you’re also just talking about an illustration on paper or cardboard, not a vivid dismembering you saw on screen. And though your little ones may be scared of the monsters lurking in their closet, by turning them into goofy game pieces like in Go Away, Monster, you’re helping to remove them of their power. We may all have nightmares of the zombie apocalypse, but we can laugh it away when the Zombie Gotcha hands snap at us.
But scary card games and board games for kids and adults also have a lot in common with the horror books, movies, and TV shows that inspire them. Many of the latter ask the viewers to solve a mystery or guess who will win their fight for survival. Several of the games we list here, including Mysterium, Escape Room in a Box, and Cauldron Quest, invite players to work together to solve puzzles and clues. Other games, like the Disney Haunted House Game of Life, simply allow players to enjoy the creepy aesthetic of Halloween without having to think too hard about what it all means. And then, of course, we’ve got the Ouija Board — which is made by Hasbro, so you can’t go telling us it’s not a board game — even if you still believe you can somehow use it to channel the other side.
The games we list here are worth playing again and again, long past Halloween and long past this strange era in which the world outside too closely resembles some of those horror movies we used to think were farfetched fiction. When that happens, you’ll have more friends and family with whom to play these horror games. And that’s one of the true delights of this season: Knowing that the sun will rise and our spookiest of nights will be behind us once again.
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