October is spooky season, where vampires, zombies, and cat people come out to play. A lot of people live for Halloween and look forward to the horrorfest every year. Unfortunately, I’m a weenie. I don’t like horror — never have, never will.
Still, I want to play some fitting games to get in the spirit of the season, so I’ve been finding some less scary options. They’re games that only kind of give you the chills or take place in pretty autumn settings, perfect for channeling your inner pumpkin spice. They’re also critically acclaimed games that should at least give you something to talk to your friends about, even if you end up not liking them. Best of all, they won’t keep you up at night or make the game barely playable because you’re afraid to turn the corner.
Here are a few picks for people who don’t like horror. Alternatively, if you’re not a weenie, you can instead look at our recommendations for the best horror games of all time.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 replaces the typical haunted mansion with a haunted hotel. Luigi, Mario, and Princess Peach accept an invite to a luxurious resort, not realizing that it’s actually a bed of supernatural activity. Our hero Luigi wakes up from a nap in his hotel room to find everyone gone and the hotel overrun by ghosts. He, along with his trusty ghost dog Polterpup, must clean up the hotel’s ghostly infestation and save his brother and friends from the vengeful King Boo.
Luigi’s Mansion fits the Halloween theme with its haunted vibe — think Casper the Friendly Ghost. It’s not meant to terrify players as much as it is to tell a story that happens to have ghosts. Plus, its cartoonish graphics lighten the blow when it comes to scares. It’s easier to downplay any spookiness when a ball-nosed cartoon plumber is running around vacuuming blob-bodied ghosts. No eerily realistic rotting skin, chilling background music, or blood baths to be seen in these haunted halls.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is available on the Nintendo Switch. Other Luigi’s Mansion games are fine picks for Halloween too, but Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the most modern one. As Digital Trends’ review put it, “Exploring all the different rooms with all the carefully added details and clever ghost encounters has a greater impact than it did in previous games.”
Little Nightmares 2 takes place in a dark, cluttered universe eerily similar to our own. Mono, a young boy wearing a paper bag over his head, finds himself trapped in this world that’s been distorted by a mysterious signal tower. He meets Six, the little girl wearing a yellow raincoat from Little Nightmares, and the two work together to uncover the secrets of the tower and save Six from her fate.
This prequel to Little Nightmares scares players in an unsettling, bubbling at the pit of your stomach kind of way. Its shadowy, bleak setting and silent protagonists moving about a dangerous area of spooky residents stir up a sense of unease. I kept it in this list because of how its suspense-filled story convinced me to continue through cryptic corridors, even though I felt it was scarier than what I was used to.
Jump into this realm of nightmares on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia. Alternatively, you can play Very Little Nightmares on mobile devices, which changes gameplay and graphics for a more easygoing spinoff adventure.
Famicom Detective Club is a series, not just one title. Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir introduces an amnesiac protagonist who discovers that he’s a detective in the middle of solving a murder related to the wealthy Ayashiro family. On the other hand, Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind stars the same protagonist before the events of Missing Heir. He investigates the murder of a schoolgirl alongside her best friend and leader of the Detective Club, Ayumi Tachibana.
Both games count as murder mystery visual novels. They aren’t made to be horror in a way that invokes a sense of creeping unease like some other titles on this list. However, they still involve murder and dead people in a way that might be entertaining for a late evening playthrough. The murders are also related to some urban legend ghost stories, which match the Halloween spirit. Overall, it checks off most elements of a scary story while keeping it light.
Both Famicom Detective Club games are available on the Nintendo Switch. You can buy one first to try out the games, or buy the entire bundle upfront for slightly cheaper than it would cost to separately buy each one.
What Remains of Edith Finch takes place through the eyes of Edith Finch, the last surviving member of the Finch family. Edith explores the abandoned Finch mansion to find out why she’s the only one left. It’s essentially an anthology of short stories about each Finch family member. You play through each Finch’s life through various interactive means until their untimely deaths.
Edith Finch has a rainy night vibe to it. Edith doesn’t seem to be in any immediate, bloody danger, but she is investigating her spooky family curse. The story explores themes of what people leave behind, but in an unnerving way that reminds us life is fleeting and our actions have consequences. As Creative Director Ian Dallas told Digital Trends, “What we’re really interested in is exploring a moment that feels very beautiful, but also a little unsettling.”
Find out what exactly remains of Edith Finch on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and iOS.
Lost in Random tells the story of one sister’s quest to save their sibling from a twisted fairytale. In the Kingdom of Random, children roll a magical die on their twelfth birthday to decide where they live for the rest of their lives. Odd rolls a six, which should mean a life of luxury in the Queen’s Castle. However, one year later, her sister Even receives a signal that indicates Odd might be in danger. Even meets a sentient die named Dicey and the two fight through different districts to save Odd.
It’s a Tim Burton-esque adventure with spindly 3D characters, dreamy settings, and mean-looking monsters. Lost in Random might have a spooky premise with the kidnapped sister and all, but it’s also a heartwarming tale without putting it in outright nightmare territory. Even the promotional materials like the trailer scream storybook come to life. Digital Trends’ reviewer mentioned some cons, but it succeeded in entertaining them with well-developed (if long-winded) characters and an intriguing mystery.
Lost in Random is on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PS4, and PS5.
Night in the Woods stars college dropout Mae Benson in her return to her rundown hometown of Possum Springs. Players help Mae cope with her feelings of aimlessness while uncovering something sinister brewing behind the suburban normalcy of the Western Pennsylvania-based town. It’s a hybrid genre adventure game that’s sure to entertain with its variety of mini-games and humorous, thoughtful dialogue.
It takes place in the fall, but that’s not the only reason why it’s a Halloween game. There’s a murder mystery subplot underneath this coming-of-age story. Play through the events from Halloween (or the game’s version of it) all the way toward the winter to reconnect with old friends and uncover the shady happenings that might have to do with missing people in Possum Springs.
This game might be for you if you’re looking for a young adult novel in the form of an indie hybrid adventure game with ghostly undertones. It’s available on basically every gaming platform now including PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices. It’s definitely one of the better indie games still worth playing in 2021 and beyond.
Doki Doki Literature Club seems like an innocent high school dating sim, but it’s actually a psychological horror game that subverts the genre. You play as a faceless protagonist who has the option of picking between three girls: Sayori, your cheerful childhood friend, Yuri, the shy beauty with a possessive side, and Natsuki, the small feisty girl with a temper. There’s also Monika, the non-romanceable club president.
It starts off as a fairly standard sim where the player composes poems with words that represent each girl to strengthen their bonds with them. Then, everything changes when a certain cataclysmic event corrupts the entire game. Players then witness a darkening narrative with each scene until the big reveal at “the end.” This so-called sim might be for you if you like anime tropes, philosophical discussions, and creepypasta.
Doki Doki Literature Club is one of the best free-to-play games you can get on PC. It also has an expansion called Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and the Nintendo Switch.
Oxenfree starts as what seems like a typical coming-of-age story before the main characters discover a ghostly rift. You play as a teenage girl named Alex, who travels to Edwards Island with her friend Ren and new stepbrother Jonas to meet up for a weekend trip. There, they meet Clarissa, the former girlfriend of Alex’s dead brother, and Nona, Clarissa’s best friend. But, just as these friends start to explore the abandoned island, their weekend getaway shifts into something spooky.
Oxenfree relies on Alex’s decisions to drive the narrative to one of the multiple endings. Players uncover Edwards Island’s dark past and determine what ultimately happens to this band of friends. Decisions can get complicated, especially with the supernatural elements like time travel, pocket dimensions, and ghosts in the story. It’s never really the bloody kind of horror, but jump scares and suspenseful moments can get a rise out of players.
Oxenfree is available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. Its sequel doesn’t come out until 2022, so you have plenty of time to catch up on the original game on your platform of choice.
- Why Doki Doki Literature Club! is a truly subversive horror game
- The best multiplayer games on Nintendo Switch