Spookytacular 2020: 10 Spooky-Not-Scary Games to Play This Halloween Season
Horror encompasses a wide spectrum of game types. From the deranged, psychological Outlast to the more action-focused Resident Evil 3 Remake. Whether or not you’re into straight-up frights, there’s probably something out there for you that falls under the horror category, even if just slightly. Horror movie buffs have The Monster Squad and Hocus Pocus. TV fans have Stranger Things and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But there are also plenty of great spooky-not-scary games out there for folks who like the spirit of Halloween but would rather avoid traumatic offerings like Amnesia and Soma.
Here are 10 spooky-not-scary games to play this Halloween season.
Carrion is touted as a reverse horror game where the player takes on the role of a large, bulbous monster. As this grotesque monstrosity, you’ll crawl, climb, and slither your way through a large research facility, eating scientists and guards along the way. The more humans the blob-like creature eats, the larger it grows and the more abilities it can use — like spitting webs to trap humans.
The pixelated gore is paired with squishy sound effects to give Carrion a creepy monster movie vibe. The game’s horror themes aren’t too intense — think The Tingler mixed with The Thing. As such, this makes it a great game to play on Halloween if you’re not a fan of jump scares but enjoy good, bloody effects.
Check out our Carrion review for an in-depth look at this reverse horror massacre.
Though not labeled as a horror game or even horror-adjacent, Mortal Shell, like many Souls-likes, has this dark, ominous mood to it. The overcast sky, monstrous enemies, and hopeless tone create a creepy atmosphere similar to that of indie horror film The Headhunter.
Mortal Shell strays really far from the horror genre — because, again, it isn’t a horror game — but it’s eerie enough to make it a fitting Halloween must-play. Not to mention, there’s nothing scarier than knowing you’re absolutely, positively going to die in a video game.
For more on Mortal Shell, check out this piece about how the game is able to walk a fine line between inviting players in and dealing out intense punishment.
Devolver Digital dark horse Witcheye is a curious little game. This fairly casual title is hardly scary, but its witch protagonist and large cast of creepy, crawly critters make it a great game to play in October. You’ve got bats, skeletons, and giant jack-o’-lanterns — all the staples of a fun and quirky Halloween.
The gameplay is simple: You guide a witch’s eye across multiple levels in search of her stolen treasures. Rather than having full control over the eye, you move it in the general direction you want it to go — with, for example, a swipe on the touchscreen or flick of the left analog stick on the Switch. It’s an intuitive gameplay mechanic with a very minor learning curve. Truth be told, the game’s actually a bit relaxing, though navigating the levels can pose a nice challenge from time to time.
At just $5 on Switch and PC and $3 on iOS and Android devices, you could easily pair Witcheye with pumpkin-shaped chocolate candy on Halloween night.
West of Dead
The somber tone and wasteland setting of West of Dead give it a grim weird west feel. Narrated by Ron Perlman, you guide a skull-headed gunman through procedurally-generated deserts, snowy lands, and caves.
The action in West of Dead is intense, tough, and fast. The game’s isometric cover-based shooting is tight and polished. Though it doesn’t move as fast as other roguelikes, it’s still one of the smoothest games of its ilk. Also, come on: Ron Perlman is great!
See our full analysis in our West of Dead review.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle
Developer Blue Wizard Digital first tugged at the heartstrings of slasher fans with Slayaway Camp, an isometric sliding puzzle game where you play as a killer stalking camp counselors and amusement park attendees. The studio followed that title up with Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle, which is built on the same basic formula but stars the iconic Jason Vorhees.
The campy, creepy vibe of the Friday the 13th films is present here. Not to mention, there are different playable versions of Jason available, like Baghead Jason from Friday the 13th Part 2 and Uber Jason from the criminally underrated Jason X — yes, I’m a fan of that dumb movie. Authenticity to the film series aside, Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle features some really fun brain teasers and is a great deal of fun. So if you’re looking for a different kind of challenge with a slasher theme, you can’t go wrong with either this title or the aforementioned Slayaway Camp.
For more, see our Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle impressions.
Costume Quest 2
Aside from a few minor differences, Costume Quest 2 doesn’t change things up from its predecessor much. This is still a comedic timing-based RPG where the protagonists take on the forms of their Halloween costumes to fight big monsters. That said, the first game was so good that this almost feels like finding a second jumbo-sized Snickers bar at the bottom of your jack-o’-lantern bucket — yeah, it’s more of the same, but it’s more of the same goodness.
The action in Costume Quest 2 moves fast, and it’s a lot of fun. Like Ernest Scared Stupid or The Witches, the game gives you a chance to relive the Halloween vibes you felt as a kid. To this day, the Costume Quest games are the epitome of Halloween representation in video games, and as such, they deserve a great deal of appreciation for that.
Check out our Costume Quest 2 review for a detailed look at this trick-or-treat-a-thon.
In Halloween Forever, you play as an overall-wearing jack-o’-lantern that spits out candy corn. Yeah, aside from Costume Quest 2, this game really does hit home as far as the Halloween season is concerned. There’s spooky music, ghosts, goblins, skeletons, and chainsaw-wielding masked killers.
Halloween Forever is far from perfect, and it relies on trial-and-error and blind jumps, but it’s still pretty entertaining. The game controls nicely and the platforming is genuinely fun. It also has a really cool old school aesthetic. This very well could’ve been a game released in the late ‘80s to capitalize on kids’ love of Halloween and trick-or-treating.
Flipping Death is a lot like a quirky, spooky cartoon you would’ve seen on Nickelodeon in the ‘90s. It’s funny, the characters are great, and it has a bizarre look to it. You play as Penny, who finds herself not only dead all of a sudden but filling in for the Grim Reaper, who’s opted to take a vacation. It’s an offbeat setup for what ends up being a highly entertaining and wild adventure.
In Flipping Death, you take control of the living in order to utilize their unique abilities and solve puzzles. You’ll encounter a lot of characters in the game, and thankfully, the writing is super sharp and hits all the right comedy notes. As you flip between the world of the living and the underworld, you’re treated to an awesome popup storybook art style filled with odd characters.
If you’re looking for a fun story-based puzzler with some light platforming, Flipping Death is a nice spooky-not-scary game to play on Halloween. Of course, you could check out the equally delightful Stick It to the Man, which was also developed by Zoink Games and follows some similar beats.
Let It Die
Free-to-play rogue-lite Let It Die has been around for close to four years now. The Grasshopper Manufacture-developed Souls-like remains a challenging, methodical RPG. You’re tasked with climbing the Tower of Barbs, a jumbled up chunk of land that was smashed together into a massive dungeon as the result of a major tectonic shift. There are talking scorpions, edible frogs, zombie-like enemies, and wart-covered monsters.
Thanks to its creepy atmosphere and gruesome enemies, Let It Die gets as close to horror without actually being a full-on horror game. There are no jump scares here, and there’s a lighthearted vibe to the whole thing — the skateboard riding grim reaper type, Uncle Death, is a charming standout. If you’re looking for something that’s kind of horror-adjacent, this is a solid option. It’s worth mentioning that Let It Die is currently in its 13th season, and it’s celebrating October with the Creepy Autumn event.
See our Let It Die impressions for a full rundown of how this perma-death Souls-like plays.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s Mansion 3 hits some fun horror-comedy notes. Once again, the ever-fearful younger Mario brother is tasked with busting some ghosts, this time in a haunted hotel. You’ll suck up specters with your vacuum, but you’ll also be able to attack them with it, giving Luigi more of a fighting chance than ever before.
It’s fun seeing Luigi shake in his overalls as he explores the hotel and encounters giant boos and gangs of smaller ghosts. Like The Nightmare Before Christmas or Coraline, this is an eerie-but-still-charming adventure that’s family-friendly and fun for anyone. The cartoon-like vibe of Luigi’s Mansion 3 makes this one of the best options out there if you’re looking for a spooky-not-scary game to play on Halloween night.
Our Luigi’s Mansion 3 review gives you the skinny on this haunted mansion adventure.
Did we miss any titles? Let us know your favorite spooky-not-scary games to play in October in the comments!