Nothing gets me into the spirit of Halloween like some spooky games. So here’s a list of the games I’ll be spending the cold, dark nights with, hidden under a blanket and jumping at every creak in my home.
Well, most of them aren’t so much scary as they just have a fun spooky vibe, but I did order these games from least to most terrifying (in case you have some youngin’s who want to share in the spirit).
(iOS / Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC / Mac / Linux)
Nothing gets me in the spirit of the season more than trick-or-treating. But sadly, people don’t like it when a costumed man over the age of 30 shows up at their door looking for treats (so what it was August!?).
Costume Quest is a brilliant title that lets you experience this again in a fun and cute RPG adventure. You and your young costumed friends go around town collecting treats door-to-door while trying to rescue your sibling from an evil witch. Sometimes a kindly neighbor answers to door, but other times it’s a monster!
That’s when your Halloween costumes transform you into literal representations of your guises for battle! There’s a little bit of Mario RPG style mini-games in battle, but they actually stay fresh since characters can change into tons of different costumes, each with its own unique battle mini-games and party role.
When it’s October… in your neighborhood… Who ya gonna call? LU-I-GI!
While Luigi’s Mansion isn’t scary per se, it’s certainly good at jump scares thanks to all the little tricks and traps strewn about each mansion. The ambience is perfect for some night gaming, thanks to the creepy yet catchy music and eerie graphic effects. It also has some of my favorite boss battles on the 3DS (at least until the new Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds comes out).
Even if you already own, and maybe even beat this game a while back, now is the perfect time to dig it up and hunt for every gem stone or Boo you missed in your first playthrough.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
(iOS / DS)
Not a scary game by any means, but Ghost Trick does deal with ghosts, mystery, and murder. Using your Powers of the Dead, you can witness events leading up to a person(or pet)’s death, and even tinker with the environment to save their lives. In the process, you must try and solve your own recent murder before daylight extinguishes your spirit for good.
While not one of Shu Takumi’s most famous works, it’s an incredible game with fun gameplay and a story that’s full of twists while never getting too complex to follow. You’ll want to keep beating each chapter just to see what happens next, but each time, there’s a new more puzzling mystery.
(Vita / PC)
In the spirit of great psychological horror games like Silent Hill, Lone Survivor focuses on a deeper level of fear. It’s not just a struggle for your life from mutated horrors in a desolate world as you scavenge for food and batteries; it’s about running from the demons in your own mind. This is an introspective game that has you talking to yourself a lot, which may bore some players. Personally, I found it compelling, especially as simple loneliness mixed with fear (and a touch of drug use) turns into a full assault on your sanity. I’m still not sure what was real and what was imagined.
Lone Survivor convinced me that low-resolution graphics actually help make a game scarier, as your mind fills in the pixels with more horrible imagery than any artist can conceive.
Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
(Vita / PSP)
Any Castlevania title is a perfect fit for Halloween, with plenty of corpse-laden pikes, screaming skulls, and other murderous abominations. But Dracula X Chronicles has so much to offer it’s about time everyone treated themselves to it. That’s because this isn’t just one great Castlevania title, but two of the best ever made!
For those who prefer the level-based, classic Castlevania style, you get Rondo of Blood. This prequel to Symphony of the Night introduced smoother controls and more agility for your Belmont than ever before. It also introduced the ability to discover multiple paths through stages, with differing bosses at the end. All this creates a natural transition to the next game in the package: Symphony of the Night.
Symphony of the Night is almost an annual ritual for my console. It was the first game dubbed a “Metroidvania” for the exploration gameplay, with numerous power-ups to unlock. I still discover something new every playthrough, and it is ripe with creepy vibes and B-movie voice acting that I’ve grown to love over the years.
The Walking Dead
(iOS / Vita / PS3 / PC / Mac)
This is the most pure horror game on this list, because it’s the only recent horror title that actually managed to scare me.
If you’re looking to just blast your way through hordes of zombies like Ash in Evil Dead, you had better look elsewhere. The Walking Dead is an adventure game with an emphasis on puzzle solving, decision making, and character relationships. The zombies aren’t even on-screen half the time, but you always know they’re there waiting to tear everyone apart with their teeth, which keeps you on edge. Also, you tend to meet people who are for more frightening than any lumbering corpse.
Most haunting of all are the decisions you’ll have to make, decisions that save some lives and often condemn others to a gruesome death. Don’t get too attached to anyone, since every character can end up on the chopping block without warning. But you sometimes can’t help getting attached because of the great character development, complimented by some of the most believable voice acting around.