Sweets, spooks, and spiders. Halloween season is almost upon us, which means plenty of frightening fun for all! But, not everybody likes to be scared witless. Our little boy loves carving pumpkins, dressing up, and eating his body weight in chocolates. But anything too jumpy just isn’t his cup of smoking cauldron juice! So, the team here at Zatu have knocked their Frankenstein’s heads together, and come up with a list of family Halloween games for everyone to enjoy. And, whether you’re happiest when knee-deep in cobwebs, or prefer your fruit punch without a floating jelly eyeball or two, here are some games that will keep your funny bones clunking until Christmas!
Dead & Breakfast from Braincrack Games, is a brilliant family level tile layer for our family Halloween games list. Everything about it screams spook-tastic fun!
In Dead & Breakfast, you are trying to build a motel full of the most ghoulish creatures. Bats, monsters, ghosts, spiders; they’re all checking in as your bravery checks out!
And you earn points by completing rows and columns of tiles in your 5 x 5 hotel of horrors. Your choice of tile is restricted each turn, however, so it’s not as simple as it sounds. But every time you complete a row, you get to pick and lay a guest tile which scores you points at the end of the game. The guests are very particular about what they want to fear, mind you. Some want to be scared by a ballroom full of bats, others want a dining room full of demonic dolls. And you’ll only get a 5-star revolting rating from them if you give them exactly the type of fright they want.
Not only that, but each tile is covered in creepy, colourful ivy. If you can connect flowers that match the colour of those bloodcurdling blooms hanging over your lobby door as you set your tiles down, you’ll earn yourself some bonus points!
The colourful, fun styling of Dead & Breakfast is definitely more Scooby-Do than Scream. The gameplay is also really enjoyable and surprisingly strategic. Deciding which creatures to accommodate before you know what guests will be checking in is a toughie. Similarly, opting for tiles based upon their freaky floral connections instead of their creature discomforts is a tricky call. A great family Halloween games choice for the big fright night!
Ahhh Gloom. The first game I ever bought purely on the fact that it had a funky looking gimmick to it. I am all for the gimmicks, you see. Being printed entirely on clear cards that you play on top of each other gives the game such an interesting table presence that the likes of a few newer games have recently adopted. Canvas is a great example of this. Gloom itself however is quite the opposite of Canvas; it is, well, gloomy. It makes it a great little game to whip out during the spooky season!
Whilst it is not inherently filled with vampires, ghosts, mummies, or other such traditional Halloween gools, it is a spooky and creepy themed little card game that puts you in the Halloween spirit.
Your main goal of this game is to make your characters as miserable as possible before you inflict untimely deaths upon them. You do this whilst simultaneously trying to make your opponents characters as happy as possible before they kick the bucket themselves. It is played the total opposite of other ‘take that’ style games, playing the negatives on yourself and the positives on the others.
Each card that you inflict on characters tells a little story too which is great for some giggles. For example, you could have “Butterfield the lurking butler, was shunned by society, fell down the well, and then was ultimately devoured by weasels” with a score of negative 40 points.
The game is really easy to learn and teach, and easily understood by younger players. The game usually doesn’t last much longer than 30 mins either, making it a good game in between your bigger spook-filled games, or for younger ones with a shorter attention span. If a pocket-sized grizzly game is what you are looking for, then you can’t go far wrong with Gloom! There is even a grizzly looking fairy tale edition now too! A Game of Thrones version, a Cthulhu version, even a space edition. There is a theme out there for anyone to enjoy, making Gloom a fantastic addition to our family Halloween games.
Now that the nights are getting shorter and the days are getting colder, the conditions are perfect to start gearing up for the arrival of Halloween. And what better way to get into the spirit of things than scaring yourself silly with Atmosfear, a truly spooky board game for up to six players.
The goal of the game is simple: collect a key from each region of the board and then attempt to draw your fear from amongst those of your friends from the Well of Fears. Alongside the physical aspects of Atmosfear, there is also a digital aspect in the form of an app. This provides a ticking clock, counting down to the end of the game when all players will lose automatically. However, there are more ghoulish elements at play, and the app will also allow the Gatekeeper to appear and meddle with the game.
Atmosfear has been around for a while now, starting with a VHS version before moving onto DVD, and now into the world of smartphones. Gameplay is much the same as in older versions of the game, however, now there are more random elements. Not only can the Gatekeeper pop up at random intervals, but he can also vary how long the game lasts. You can also run the app across multiple devices rather than just one central screen now. All these adjustments combine to make a truly frantic and frightening game.
There is a sense of panic that runs through everything, with players desperately trying to get their turn done to avoid the evil Gatekeeper and keep the game going before the timer runs out. If you’re looking for a spooky way to get into the Halloween spirit, Atmosfear is the game for you!
Ever fancied yourself as a medium? I’m currently an extra-large myself, but I have been hitting the gym a lot recently.
Of course, I don’t mean that kind of medium. I’m talking about the ones who communicate with the dead. If you play Mysterium, you can channel your inner Oda Mae Brown.
A great introduction to cooperative play, all but one of the players are investigators trying to solve a murder. The other player is the ghost, trying to communicate details of their murder. There is of course a catch: the ghost isn’t allowed to talk.
At the stroke of midnight, the ghost gives their first clues. These clues are given via picture cards which represent visions. The investigators then discuss what the clues point towards. Each round represents a new hour. If any detective takes longer than seven hours, the mystery goes unsolved. If all detectives crack their clues, the ghost gives one final set of visions. These visions give the true identity of the murderer, the room of the murder and the weapon used.
Publishers Libellud have done a fantastic job creating a game that is suitably eerie. All the suspects look truly sinister, and the artwork of the visions are divine. They have also made a soundtrack to play along on their website. If you’ve already played Mysterium, there’s also Mysterium Park. Not only is it a streamlined version of the original, but the ghost can also use the vision cards from the original game too.
They say a ghost is a being that has some unfinished business. If that’s true, turn the lights down low, play the haunting music, and help bring some paranormal justice!
When the spooky season draws in, one thing is at the forefront of my mind: Hocus Pocus! My nostalgia for the ’90s, love for Bette Midler and passion for board games all meet beautifully in the 2-5 player cooperative game. The perfect addition to our list of family Halloween games!
This light, family-friendly game is quick to learn but can be difficult to master. Using limited communication you and your team must stun the Sanderson sister three times, which brings the sunrise.
On the circular cauldron, there are five spaces for ingredients. One player at a time you must add ingredients to the cauldron in an attempt to ruin the potion. Match 5 cards of either ingredient type or colour and you’ll stun one of the three witches! (And receive a bonus for doing so!)
You need to stun the witches thrice before the ingredient deck runs out, and be sure to watch out for Spells and use your trick tokens!
Whilst gameplay is relatively simple, there are a few adjustments you can choose to make to increase difficulty. In our house, we always try to stun each witch once before sunrise, which just adds a little spice, as each witch has their own stunning criteria.
Personally, I love the look of this game on the table; it’s bright, has high-quality components and who wouldn’t love a cat-shaped Thackery Binx meeple?! Plus the game box is the infamous Book from the movie, which whilst not the most practical shape for a game, it’s definitely fun for fans of the movie.
As a fan of Hocus Pocus and lighter, quick to play cooperatives, this game ticks all of the boxes for me. Easy to understand, yet tricky to win, Hocus Pocus is a great all-rounder for families, and with everyone on the same team victory (or loss) is shared!