The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling down, and Halloween is fast-approaching. So what does this mean for us gamers? Well, it means it’s time to bust out some comforters and sweaters and sit down to play some spooky games! This list of games brings forth some charming, sweet stories that every gamer can enjoy. After all, not everyone likes to be terrified at every twist and turn. Some of us just want to sit and enjoy a charming story. This list of games is perfect to get you into that Halloween mood!
To compile this list, I made sure to follow some rules: the game could not be part of a series already listed, it had to have some sort of monster (like a ghost, zombie, or skeleton), the ESRB rating could not be above T, and it had to be available for everyone to experience. So with that out of the way, here we go!
1. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask—N64/Gamecube (2000) & Virtual Console (2009)
Majora’s Mask is a classic in the Zelda series. You of course, play as the silent Link, traveling across Clock Town with the looming danger of the Moon. You have three days to save the people of clock town. With your new friend Tatl—replacing Navi, who seems to be missing—you chase down Skull Kid to retrieve Link’s ocarina and the Majora’s Mask.
The monsters in Majora’s Mask are what put it on this list. The ReDeads caused many nightmares for gamers back in the day. There are also quite a few spooky skeletons that Link must fight, and the moon—just, the moon. Shudder.
2. Luigi’s Mansion—Gamecube (2001)
In this game you play as Mario’s brother Luigi! Horray! Luigi wins a mansion as part of a contest. However, when our green friend arrives, he finds that it is a rather spooky affair filled with cobwebs and an ever-present storm. He also finds that Mario, who he planned on meeting at the mansion, is nowhere to be found! The mansion is covered in ghosts, and only Luigi can help find him.
You are helped by Professor E. Gadd, who gives you a vacuum cleaner to help fight the ghosts. It is your job to clean your new mansion of the ghosts in order to save Mario. The ghosts are colorful creatures, and often have silly names to accompany them (like Bogmire) and give you quite a laugh when you encounter them.
3. Fear Less! Escape the Nightmare—Free Online Game (2013)
Fear Less! is a free online endless running game where you play as a little girl having a reoccurring nightmare about being chased by death in a forest. Armed with a sword and your dream powers, you try to break the cycle of this nightmare. It has simple controls for the user to manipulate. Z is used to jump and X is used to hit the anthropomorphic animals that come to face you.
It has a really cute soundtrack and design that is simply calming. I often play this game when I am bored before a class or work. The charming design of the forest and animals brings me right into the world.
4. Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights—PS2, Gamecube, & Xbox (2002-2003)
“Scooby-Doo? Where are you?” In this game, Daphne’s friend Holly asks her to help find her missing Uncle. You are brought into the Mystic Manor, and with the classic Scooby-Doo formula, the gang is all ready to roll except for Shaggy and Scooby. While the others go into the Mystic Manor, the two friends stay outside. However, Shaggy falls down a trap door and leaves Scooby alone outside. Scooby is left to find the mystery of The Mastermind without Shaggy.
You control Scooby-Doo in this game, hunting for Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Freddie as they are lost in the Manor. You collect Scooby Snacks, monster tokens, and other easter eggs throughout the game. Also, you use various inventions to aid in your search for the gang.
5. Terraria—All Current Gen Consoles (2011)
I know what you’re thinking. “How can a sandbox game be spooky?” Well, the story is that you (as the hero) are doing your best to purify the world. This tasks you with building a safe house for you and some refugees from the post-apocalyptic setting. You have to mine to gather materials in order to gain upgrades for your home, and once night hits, you must protect yourself and your people by beating giant eyeballs, bats, spirits, and skeletons. All of this takes place in a pixel setting that brings the spooky monsters to life.
The game is best played with friends and often gets really low-priced during Steam sales. It is a fun experience and can bring nearly anyone into the Halloween spirit. Especially since there is a Halloween event currently going on with the boss being a pumpkin moon. Literally.
6. Zombies Ate My Neighbors—SNES, Sega Genesis (1992-1993) & Virtual Console (2009)
This is a classic game where you play as either Zeke or Julie to stop the monster outbreak. Dr. Tongue created these monsters and unleashed them into the town. Armed with everything from plates to hair dryers, these two teen friends must save their neighbors from certain death.
This game is a classic within the shooter genre, but the story still lasts and has even garnered a few spin-off games like Ghoul Patrol. It’s also referenced in many other LucasArts games. Zombies Ate My Neighbors is available on the virtual console and is a great game to play with friends.
7. The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge—PS2 & Xbox (2004-2005)
A year after the events of the movie, Jack is once again over Halloween. He is now looking for new scares and discoveries, and is armed with a “Soul Robber” by Dr. Finkelstein to help create music by changing its shape and flinging collected music notes. Jack then leaves Halloween Town in order to find new scares for the next Halloween.
Oogie is brought back to life by Lock, Shock, and Barrel, then proceeds to take over Halloween Town by kidnapping Sally and the holiday leaders to become the King of all Holidays. A cheesy game that is so cheesy it’s good! You play as the Pumpkin King who simply wants to save his friends and town. Each battle in this game has a song in it that gets stuck in your head really quickly. It definitely puts you right in the Halloween mood.
8. Castlevania—NES (1986) & Virtual Console (2009)
I could write a 20-page essay on each of the Castlevania games. However, that would mean I would have to play all of the Castlevania games, which I have not done. I really don’t have enough Halloweens to do that. So we will talk about the Castlevania that I have played and how great that game is, because Simon Belmont deserves some recognition.
This game is a platformer where you play as the wonderful Simon Belmont who spends his days hunting spooky monsters in dimly lit castles with only a whip. You fight throughout Dracula’s castle meeting many enemies along the way until you finally reach the Count.
9. Don’t Starve—Steam (2013)
Another sandbox game? Wow, I’m definitely certain this belongs on the list, though. You play as Wilson who is searching for another scientist, Maxwell, who happens to have some fun information for you. You run across a world map and your Adventure is to not starve. The Adventure Mode is the longest part of the game.
The key part of this game is survival. During Adventure Mode, you build camps to stay in the light area to avoid freezing to death. You gather food and wood to make sure you don’t starve. And you also avoid monsters that come out at night until you finally reach Maxwell.
10. Ib—Free Computer Game (2011)
Ib ran into the hearts of many indie gamers really fast in 2011. It’s a game about a little girl named Ib who wanders away from her mother and father in an art gallery. She then gets drawn into the magical and slightly spooky world of the artist being represented at the gallery. The whole plot is about Ib going home to her parents and surviving the paintings.
You control Ib as she explores the world in order to solve the puzzles set by the painter, and you get help from your terrified friends Garry and Mary. Yet something seems off about your new companions. You aren’t powerless, however—you can choose how to treat the characters and paintings and react to the world around you. Nothing has to be harmed. Ib is an adorable game and perfect to play for Halloween.
11. Costume Quest—All Current Gen Consoles (2010)
This game takes place on Halloween night. You play as a sibling dressed in their Halloween costume who goes trick or treating to make friends in a new town. You play as one of the fraternal twins, searching for your other twin on Halloween.
There is a fair amount of roleplay and adventure elements in Costume Quest. You fight some monsters on your quest to find your sibling. The game is charming and actually set in Halloween! It’s got a lovely atmosphere and fun characters with interesting costumes.
12. Ghostbusters: The Video Game—PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox/Xbox 360, Windows, & NDS (2009)
“Who you gonna call?” Yourself! Because in this game, you create your own Ghostbuster and get called Rookie by Venkman while you help in their adventures. As this takes place two years after the second movie, you get to fight many of the same monsters. All the actors lent their voices and likeness to their original characters for this.
The game has the same elements of shooters, but you have a proton pack to help protect you against the ghosts experienced throughout the game. Dan Aykroyd called this the third Ghostbusters movie. So if that doesn’t put you in the Halloween spirit, I have no idea what will!
13. Disney’s The Haunted Mansion—PS2, Xbox, & Gamecube (2003-2004)
To be honest, “Grim Grinning Ghosts” and 99 happy haunts are always my favorite parts of of Halloween. Every haunted house needs a ghost lantern and an amazing player character to bring the Halloween spirit to anyone. You play as Zeke, who is armed with his magical lantern to capture 99 happy haunts in order to help cleanse the house of its spirits.
Sure, Disney has fun creating super cheesy games for everyone to play. But it sure is fun to experience all the games they create in order to get people in the spirit of the season.
Honorable Mention: Gahan Wilson’s The Ultimate Haunted House—Windows 95 (1993-1994)
This game terrified me as a child! However, when I look back on it now, I constantly wonder, “Why?” This game is adorable and I would totally put it on the list if I wasn’t so certain no one could find it now.
The point of the game is to gather the keys to the Haunted House bedrooms and solve puzzles to make sure you leave before 13 o’clock. It’s a Windows 95 game with an interesting cast of characters and secrets you can find. I honestly wish I could play it again! I guess I’m stuck finding Let’s Plays on YouTube until that day comes.