Halloween and monsters and horror are all great themes tor games. They are evocative and appealing. But one thing that board games that revolve around scary things struggle to do is actually be scary.
It’s absolutely not a deal breaker for me. Given the success of the genre, it’s clearly not a deal breaker for anyone else. In fact, it’s such a little deal, I almost never think about it.
The reasons are pretty obvious. The level of abstraction and control that a board game gives you dilutes the fear factor. The act of taking turns alone changes the tempo and adds enough control to make being scared tough.
(That does make me wonder if a horror-themed Escape: Curse of the Lost Temple could be honestly scary. There is a horror version that I haven’t tried. That might work! Real time makes everything scarier)
Honestly, if you want authentic chills down your spine, RPGs and Video Games seem to be the way to go, for opposite reasons. RPGs let you internalize the story while Video Games externalize the story.
And let’s be clear. Excitement is different than fear. Everything coming down to the wire in Arkham Horror is exciting. It’s not scary. But, really, I’ll take exciting over scary.
Even if a board game never gives me a jump scare, it’s still a great medium for Halloween. It’s a theme that everyone understands. And getting everyone at the table on the same page can be what makes a game experience work.