10 Games for a Spooky Samhain – IGR’s 2018 Halloween Picks

Flipping Death game screenshot courtesy Steam

Ghouls walk among us, terrifying in their hideousness, reeking of evil and driven by an otherworldly hunger for human blood…but enough about politics – it’s also Halloween!

To get you into the mood for mischief, here are 10 treats (or tricks) from the world of indie games:

The Witch’s Isle

by COCOSOLA

The Witch's Isle game screenshot courtesy Steam
The Witch’s Isle – screenshot courtesy Steam

It’s the season of the witch, so visit an island haunted by one in one of our editor-in-chief’s personal favorites of 2017.

The little island in question is lively in its way, but both literally haunted and emotionally haunting. No one who lives on the island can ever leave, thanks to the witch’s curse. But they still go about their days (and moonlit nights), even if the player dawdles in uncovering the mystery of The Witch’s Isle.

Though certain events require the active involvement, the game gives players room to explore and indulge their curiosities while conjuring an atmosphere that’s more about an eerie sense of place than sudden frights.

Its impressionist pixel art backgrounds are even painted in an autumnal palette scheme of soft reds, yellow and browns; how do you get more seasonally appropriate than that?!

Oxenfree

by Night School Studio

Oxenfree game screenshot courtesy Steam
Oxenfree – screenshot courtesy Steam

Making it onto our 2016 Game of the Year list, Oxenfree starts off as a ’90s indie film ensemble comedy, with friends getting together on the beach cracking wise and working out what they mean to each other, before taking a left turn into surrealism that, as our editor in chief put it, “will haunt your dreams and tattoo itself onto your hippocampus.”

A journey into surreal mystery a la David Lynch or Gaspar Noé, this adventure game is suffused with the ineffable, eerie atmosphere we look for as the days grow shorter and summer gives way to stranger seasons.

With a recent port to Nintendo Switch that makes great use of HD rumble, especially when tuning the haunted radiowaves, and an optimized mobile version for iOS, there have never been more options to enter this uncanny world.

Golden Krone Hotel

by Vulgat

Golden Krone Hotel game screenshot courtesy Steam
Golden Krone Hotel – screenshot courtesy Steam

It’s rare that the randomized nature of a Roguelike can really evoke the whimsically spooky atmosphere that we at IGR like for our Halloween selections, but Golden Krone Hotel manages to do just that with a narrative backbone that draws on gothic horror and a mechanic that requires players to assume the role of both human and vampire on each run.

And while the developer has wound down development of the title, he did add one new disguise in the October 2018 build: “The new disguise is the Apothecary. Easily the hardest start to the game, this disguise is also potentially the best in the late game.”

It is definitely time to revisit the Golden Krone.

Sally Face

by Steve Gabry

Sally Face game screenshot courtesy Steam
Sally Face – screenshot courtesy Steam

Steve Gabry’s influences are clear – the eponymous character’s room is bedecked in posters paying homage to David Lynch and Tim Burton – among others – but this episodic adventure game is far more than homage.

Set in a haunted apartment building and lightly traipsing between genres, from psychological horror to classic murder mystery to ghost story and back again, Sally Face uses the grotesque for shock value, then forces you to reevaluate your first impressions and empathize with its cast of characters, neither because of or despite their disfigurements, but because of their essential humanity.

Monster Prom

by Beautiful Glitch

Monster Prom game screenshot courtesy Steam
Monster Prom – screenshot courtesy Steam

If there’s one thing other than Halloween that autumn is known for, it’s high school dances. The award-winning Monster Prom combines both in a multi-player dating sim that combines whimsically monstrous high school students with clever writing and an attempt to answer the unanswerable question of what’s the scariest thing in the world: werewolves or trying to get a date to the prom?

Flipping Death

by Zoink Games

Flipping Death game screenshot courtesy Steam
Flipping Death – screenshot courtesy Steam

As the veil between the living and the dead thins, puzzle platformer Flipping Death sees an ordinary girl taking on the role of the Grim Reaper himself. With a clever possession mechanic and writing by award winning comic book author Ryan North, this might be the smartest – and funniest – death-themed adventure game since Grim Fandango.

Carly and the Reaperman

by Odd Raven Studios

Carly and the Reaperman: Escape from the Underworld game screenshot courtesy Steam
Carly and the Reaperman: Escape from the Underworld – screenshot courtesy Steam

A hooded skeleton solves puzzles once again in the VR-exclusive Carly and the Reaperman. Its graphics are grimly cute, an adorably morbid take on 3D puzzle platformers, but the real charm is in its asymmetrical two-player collaboration: one player guides Carly herself using a standard interface, the other her scythe-wielding friend via HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. A single-player mode is available now, too, but this one’s much more fun with a friend.

Ghostly Matter

by Small Bros

Ghostly Matter game screenshot courtesy Steam
Ghostly Matter – screenshot courtesy Steam

Ghostly Matter is a loving homage to the two most iconic Halloween-oriented games of the ‘80s: Castlevania and Ghosts ‘n Goblins. Add in a wily professor armed with crazy gadgets straight out of Ghostbusters, and you’ve got enough haunted house exploration, side-scrolling combat and 8-bit creepiness to haunt you all the way through Thanksgiving.

MachiaVillain

by Wild Factor

MachiaVillain game screenshot courtesy Steam
MachiaVillain – screenshot courtesy Steam

Prison Architect meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in this human slaughterhouse management sim. Lure victims into your house of horrors, then chop them to bits with your fiendish traps and bloodthirsty minions. Cartoonish artwork and self-aware humor keeps this well on the humorous side of the spectrum, despite the copious gore.

Ghostory

by RigidCore Games

Ghostory game screenshot courtesy Steam
Ghostory – screenshot courtesy Steam

Starting out as an award-winning student project, Ghostory is an intricately designed puzzle platformer that requires players to switch back and forth between earthly and ghostly forms. While the puzzles are tough, a lighthearted story loaded with puns will keep you too busy laughing – or possibly rolling your eyes – to get too frustrated.

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