This year, 45 years after the original release of John Carpenter’s Halloween, we get a proper board game from the team at Trick or Treat Studio Games. My love of the original Halloween movie dates back to my childhood, and seeing it come to my game table has me ecstatic. Halloween is a 1-vs-many hidden movement game for 2 to 4 players. Let’s see if this game can live up to my love of this classic horror movie.
The Boogeyman is Coming for You
The game board is a grid representing 4 houses in the town of Haddonfield. One player at the table takes on the role of Michael Myers while all other players are the teens that Michael terrorizes in the original film. The teens are working together to find the two children, Tommy and Lindsey, along with a set of car keys to escape to safety.
The Myers player moves secretly around the board, recording their movements on a dry erase map that mirrors the game board. Players can’t see Michael unless he crosses their line of sight or sneaks up and attacks them. There are loads of places to hide around the board, giving Michael plenty of chances to sneak in the darkness.
Just knowing that Michael can be hiding around any corner is terrifying and makes this game so tense. Halloween is designed by Emerson Matsuuchi, designer of Spector Ops, another hidden movement game, and the upcoming Metal Gear Solid board game. I can’t think of a better mechanic to personify the infamous Michael Myers character.
Get the Kids and Get Out
During the setup of Halloween, the 2 kids and 2 car key cards are randomly distributed into the bottom 4 cards of the 4 item decks. This forces players to search the houses while giving time for Michael to stalk his prey. All players are given 2 actions on their turn. Players can move, search, climb through windows or attack using these actions. If a player wants to exert themselves and do a little extra, they will earn an exertion token which will force them to rest if they collect 3.
In each item deck, players are going to find first aid, toys to help in their search for the kids, and weapons to fight back against Myers. Not only are players working against an invisible killer, but they’re also limited in their number of turns. At each player count, the game only lasts a specific number of rounds. Each time the Myers player takes their 2 actions, they announce to the table what round was just completed.
The intensity of Halloween ramps up immediately once Michael starts attacking. If players pass through the space where Michael is standing, Michael is given a free attack. Both Myers and the teens use dice to engage in combat. These dice have 50% successes on each die. It’s never a good idea to depend on the dice, so facing Myers head on is ill advised. When Myers is hit with an attack, he becomes “staggered”, limiting his abilities for a single action. It’s not a huge penalty but offers enough time to make an escape in most situations.
Players can unlock the car using the matching colored keys once they are found. Getting the kids to the car can be a challenge if the Michael player is reading the table and ready to attack as players run to the car.
Escaping the Shape
Halloween does a fantastic job of bringing the tension of the original movie to life on the game table. The Michael player is given a “pursue” movement that acts like a run as long as he’s not in the line of sight of a player. At the end of each players’ move, they have to determine what direction their standee is facing. This decision is very important. Players don’t want to turn their back on Michael, allowing him to sneak up on them. Seeing through windows is vital in case Michael is moving around the perimeter of the house.
On the surface, each of the four houses are similar, but that’s not actually the case. Moving through these houses can feel confining and moving into the street gives Michael too many opportunities to strike.
Halloween gives players plenty of weapons in the item decks to hurt Michael. But, with 12 health, taking out Myers without all 3 players working together is a mountain you don’t want to climb. The teen players each have a unique ability and different limitations. Bob has more health while Annie can carry 6 items. Laurie can force a re-roll of an attack but she only has 3 health and can carry 4 items.
The Night He Came Home
Playing the role of Michael Myers is so much fun. I’ve been Myers for most of the half a dozen games I’ve played. Running at players and attacking is the least effective way to play the game. Making use of each space on the board causes players to question their every movement. Watching players discuss what they think you’re doing is wild.
The teen players need to be cautious when chatting around the table. Sharing too much info will give the Myers player opportunities to setup at just the right place and get a free attack.
The player controlling Michael Myers is going to have to be aware of accidental hints that could give away his location. The dry erase board that records Myers movement is a great size and gives a perfect representation of the game board. In order to make sure players don’t see where I’m drawing lines, I end up doing this in my lap below the table. I’m not sure why they didn’t include a privacy screen with the game. When other players take on the role of Myers, I pull a privacy screen from another game in case they want to use it. It can be a little awkward hiding your movement from everyone else at the table.
Emerson has done a fantastic job of creating a tense atmosphere reminiscent of this classic horror movie. The art style of a 70’s baseball style card was something I didn’t like when I saw photos of the game. I’ve changed my mind since seeing these cards in person. The illustration style feels inspired by this time period and it was a good call in my opinion.
Michael clearly has an advantage throughout the game, but it rarely feels insurmountable. If a player is killed, they come back into the game as Sheriff Brackett or Dr. Loomis. Both come into the game with a gun, and that can be a turning point against Michael.
I only have a handful of hidden movement games but it’s going to be tough to pick these over Halloween. The game is simple to teach and straight-forward in its presentation, but the theme is felt throughout the game. Halloween fans will love the little touches in the game that call back to the movie.
This is the game that the movie deserves and a horror game that will hit the table year round.
You can purchase Halloween at your local game store or through the Trick or Treat Studios webstore.
This game was provided to us by the publisher for review. Read more about our review policies at One Board Family.
- Loads of throwbacks to the original film
- Simple mechanics that are easy to teach new players
- Great use of line of sight keeps the game tense
- Playing as Myers is so much fun
- Keeping Michael’s movement secret can be tricky
- A privacy screen should have come with the game