There’s no denying that as October 31st begins to roll around, people get in a spooky mood. Many people celebrate by putting on their favorite slashers and enjoying a number of horror games. However, there are plenty of people who might be a bit squeamish about blood, jump scares, and horror in general. Just because you aren’t a fan of being scared doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Halloween. There are a variety of games that are fitting to play around this time of year, due to aesthetics, in-game events, or just being a fun game that happens to be fairly spooky. So grab a bowl of candy corn and dim the lights for some spooky (but not exactly scary) games!
For a new take on trick-or-treating — Animal Crossing (Series)
The Animal Crossing series always celebrates Halloween by having the local stores sell candy and costumes. You can enjoy running around the town in search of the elusive Jack, a pumpkin-headed villager who gives out candy and special items. You’ll need to be careful though, as the regular villagers will be walking around looking for you. If they see you, they’ll chase you down, and if they catch you, you’ll either need to give them candy or receive a trick. These tricks can vary from changing an inventory item to junk to giving you a unique Halloween-themed item. While this might seem a bit stressful, the villagers are also easy to outrun, and Jack will always be stationary.
In recent titles, Nintendo have scaled back on the number of villagers out and about. Some will stay in their homes, and visiting them with a certain Halloween mask will scare them, earning you lollipops. Giving these lollipops to Jack will earn you some exclusive furniture. Gathering enough of these furniture items will allow you to doll up your house to look incredibly spooky, letting you enjoy Halloween all year round! Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about your villagers breaking into your house to stare at you menacingly until you throw a lollipop at them...unlike how they have to worry about you.
For love — Monster Prom
Maybe you still want to get a little bit spooked. What is scarier than the high school prom? Monster Prom is a dating sim that tasks you with courting one of six (or eight with the Second Term DLC) haunting heartthrobs to join you at the Spooky High prom. This cast includes memorable monsters like Polly, a party-obsessed ghost; Liam, a hipster vampire with a bit of a dorky side; and Miranda, a murderous mermaid monarch. You’ll also contend with a variety of side characters who might ruin your chances of finding romance, including mutant blobs, monster hunters, a coven of witches, and a cereal mascot. To increase your chances, you’ll attend (or avoid) class to enhance your stats to overcome random events you find yourself dealing with in each area. Maybe Liam’s playing a MOBA, and you need to join him as either a bold warrior or a creative game designer. Maybe Polly is looking for a way to spice up a spooky party, and you can either have her turn monsters into humans or go as a sexy tax evader. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll have to play your cards right to see if they pick you for Prom over, say, the other players. That’s right! Monster Prom has local and online multiplayer. The game also allows players to set pronouns and pursue any monster they want. It doesn’t matter if your zombie heart longs for a demon or a gorgon; Monster Prom supports any kind of love.
For war — Team Fortress 2
Valve’s famous free “hat-collection simulator disguising itself as an FPS” game has a number of fun Halloween events running throughout October almost every year. Many of these updates only seem to add cosmetics, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for you to head on over to some of the classic maps with Halloween skins and participate in some of the old game modes. Players can participate in any of five events, facing terrible foes such as giant floating eyeballs, a pumpkin-headed man with an ax, or the Soldier’s incompetent wizard roommate. If that doesn’t catch your fancy, you could always try sending your employer to Hell, or heading over to the Carnival of Carnage. Once there, you’ll contend with a number of bumper car-related trials, from classic bumper cars to races to soccer to collecting the most ducks. (It might seem nonsensical, but you’ll be smiling when you hear Merasmus scream “BONUS DUCKS!”) On top of that, you can earn Halloween cosmetics from Halloween Crates or by completing Merasmissions, allowing you to deck your mercenaries out in community costumes ranging from comically low-budget robots to pure beings of the undead.
For a much less horrifying version of Saw — Trivia Murder Party
If you have friends over (be it physically or online), you can have some fun with Trivia Murder Party, part of the Jackbox Party Pack 3. With TMP, you and your friends are held captive by a disembodied voice and forced to answer trivia questions, exposing you to the horrors of geography, cooking, and entertainment. Guess right, and you’ll get some money for your troubles. But fail, and you’ll be thrust towards the Killing Floor, forcing you to contend with a number of spooktacular mini-games where the price of failure is lethal! Fight for your life as you memorize patterns, draw for your peers, and drink out of cups that may or may not be poisoned. When only one player remains, everyone races to the end by marking which of three given options fit a certain criteria.
Despite the simple premise, the game provides a lot of fun as players debate about trivia answers, try to see if they’ll betray another, and burst into laughter when the only cup that wasn’t poisoned was the one shaped like a skull. If you’re not in a trivia mood, fret not! The Jackbox Party Pack also contains four other games for you and your friends to play. So if high-stakes trivia isn’t your skull-shaped cup of tea, you can always just design t-shirts—then the horror comes from realizing one of your friends actually bought your dumb shirt idea.
For when you want some cryptid combat — Darkstalkers
If you’re in the mood for a fighting game, Darkstalkers’s roster is full of things that go bump in the night. During a mysterious merging of realms, various creatures of legend do battle to determine which monster shall rule the night. These nightcrawlers include the Scottish succubus, Morrigan; the Australian skeleton rock star, Lord Raptor; and the Chinese jiangshi, Hsien-Ko. The game follows a traditional fighting system based off of Street Fighter II’s engine. It can also feature other options depending on the game, such as slowly depleting super meters, the ability to auto-block and use chain combos, and having health recovery and a special state called “Dark Force Mode.” While it might be a simple fighting game, it’s also made by Capcom, which ensures a decent amount of quality in each entry. Besides, in what other game can you beat up an alien made of fire while playing as Little Red Riding Hood...with an uzi?
For a twist on shooter games — Typing of the Dead
House of the Dead is a very prominent series of light-gun shooters for arcades and various home consoles. Despite its serious premise, its delivery coats the content in a layer of B-list horror cheesiness, in part due to the absurdity of it all and the mixed quality in the delivery of a lot of the voice acting. Many consider House of the Dead 2 as the peak of the franchise, but I’m going to suggest Typing of the Dead. You can slay zombies by aggressively typing at them, and the characters in the game will also be shown using special backpack-keyboards to fire upon the hordes of the undead. Besides, what can be more horrifying than spelling under pressure?
For a horrible night — Castlevania (Series)
Beginning as a love letter to early horror films and becoming one of the definitive classic action franchises, the Castlevania series has many different titles that vary in terms of content. Many of the early titles are linear platformers that focus on navigating around different enemies and fighting bosses (mostly seen with the NES titles, Bloodlines, and Rondo of Blood). However, after the success of Symphony of the Night, they become much more exploration-based, with players picking up different abilities to find new ways to navigate around the castle. If you dig deep enough, you can even find 3D beat-em-ups and fighting games.
If you’re fine with a bit of gore, you can explore the series further with the Castlevania Netflix series, acting as a retelling of the story of Dracula’s Curse. It’s also very easy to play the games right now; Bloodlines and Super Castlevania IV have recently been released on different mini consoles, while collections of both the classic platformers and the Richter duology have been released digitally on separate consoles.
For when bustin’ makes you feel good — Luigi’s Mansion (Series)
Nintendo has been known to make light and colorful games. Luigi’s Mansion is still fairly light compared to other games it bears some similarities to. However, you are still exploring a ghoulish mansion, trying to quell various ghosts and unlock more of the mansion to eventually free Luigi’s red-clad brother. Though this sounds ominous, it still has some bright points. Both its sequel and the remake for 3DS give Luigi a ghost dog named Poulterpup (who, as recently seen in Luigi’s Mansion 3, you can pet!). The ghost designs have shifted towards using more solid colors. It’s a very enjoyable experience and it never feels too gloomy. It also helps that the combat system is rather creative: sucking in ghosts, having to stun them and slam them to prevent them from escaping. If you’re looking for a new experience with this series, Luigi’s Mansion 3 comes out October 31st of this year.
For a different kind of monster hunt — Pokémon Go
If you’re out and about on Halloween, you can boot up Pokémon GO and look for some ‘mons to add to your collection. The premise of finding and catching monsters can be interesting enough for Halloween, but during mid-to-late October, players can find plenty of Dark and Ghost type Pokémon, as well as various Pokémon dressed in different costumes. Fittingly, these events also allow you to get larger quantities of candy, and find special raids to get spooky Pokémon like Darkrai and Giratina. As this is the first Halloween event since the addition of Pokémon from the Generation V games (Black and White), it’s a good time to try your hand at catching Pokémon like Golett, Litwick, and the newly added Yamask and Cofagrigus.
For the real horror: doing your taxes — The Sims
The Sims might not seem like a big Halloween game, and if you’re playing one of the newer titles, you might have to pick up some DLC to let you use some of the spookier content. But there’s more to playing Halloween Sims than just dressing a character up like a witch and throwing pumpkins all over the place. While you can definitely tailor your Sims experience to have a Halloween aesthetic, it’s also interesting to approach the game from an entirely different perspective. A classic way to do this is to find a way to trap Sims in an area and kill them. However, it’s also possible to do this by luring the Grim Reaper to the house and, should cheats be enabled, adding them to your household. From there, you can act out the perfect sitcom about a young journalist trying to find his next big scoop while also living with the Grim Reaper.
If you want to omit the Grim Reaper, you can always try making a household full of horror film lookalikes or try recreating one of the classic spooky families (such as the Munsters or the Addams family). While cheats are enabled, you can also wipe out most of the Sims in the game and replace them with multiple versions of the same Sim. It’s like a zombie apocalypse, except instead of being undead, everyone is just Charles.
There’s a lot of potential for creative Halloween-themed gaming for your Sims play sessions. You could even combine some of these, so Herman Munster and the Grim Reaper must survive the Charles apocalypse. Of course, even vanilla Sims lets you have fun with ghosts and zombies if you play your cards right (or wrong), and a trip to the graveyard can provide plenty of spooky opportunities. Otherwise, you can always just play normally and deal with the scariness of everyday life.
Matthew Huddleston is a Game Design major with a minor in Interactive Narrative. He lives in Massachusetts, and is currently working on a small platformer about plants. When not working on games, he is typically writing, walking, or playing with his Airedale terrier, Greta.