10 Great Indie Videogames to Play During Halloween – 2017 Edition

IGR’s Halloween lists try to meet several criteria: spotlight some ideas that may have been missed, don’t make it a simple horror list, highlight experiences that help build the unique mood of Halloween in many different permutations and in ways that may appeal to a diverse spectrum of audiences. Bonus points if it can make you think. With those check-boxes in mind, we humbly submit the 2017 list of 10 more awesome independent games to play around Halloween time:

Outlast 2

by Red Barrels

Outlast 2 game screenshot courtesy Steam
Outlast 2 – screenshot courtesy Steam

Halloween means different things to different people. Some go dark, and want to get really really scared, while other may look towards the Pagan tradition, or perhaps the whimsical playful nature of the day. Outlast 2 belongs to the initial category. I could hardly get through half an hour of the original title – it was too intense for me.

Outlast 2, now slightly more cozy in its IP, may also be a little more accessible to the faint of heart, as it is more narrative and story-focused – and thus mitigated by offering something to grab onto – but is by no means for the queasy. In the sequel you are Blake Langermann, a cameraman working with your wife tasked with investigating the strange goings on in the wake of an end-of-the-world death cult. Drawing on tropes from many successful horror games of the past like Fatal Frame and Amnesia, you are going to see if you can outlast your won nervous system, begging you to tap out. ~Indie-Game-Freak

Darkwood

by Acid Wizard Studio

Darkwood game screenshot courtesy Steam
Darkwood – screenshot courtesy Steam

Darkwood is an atmospheric survival horror game set in a procedurally generated forest so dark and twisted it makes The Blair Witch Project seem like Winnie the Pooh. Scrounge for supplies during the day, and hope you find enough to hang on to life by your fingernails through the seemingly endless nights. Played from a top-down perspective, which somehow adds to the sense of dread, Darkwood is loaded with atmosphere, from its subtly shifting shadows to its paranoia-inducing sound design. ~InfinityWaltz

What Remains of Edith Finch

Giant Sparrow

What Remains of Edith Finch game screenshot courtesy Steam
What Remains of Edith Finch – screenshot courtesy Steam

You return to your family home – a creepy mansion abandoned in the woods – after almost a decade to unlock its numinous secrets. Every bedroom has been sealed shut, but a peephole allows you to look in from the outside, wondering about the strange life of the person who died there. Where this first person exploring game goes next is so unexpected and wonderful that it will scratch every itch for eerie magical realism you may get around the twilight time of year. ~Indie-Game-Freak

Night in the Woods

by Infinite Fall

Night in the Woods game screenshot, autumn

Don’t be fooled by the anthropomorphic animals; Night in the Woods has a strong and surprising horror component that slowly reveals itself – culminating in the titular terrifying night – and its combination of small town horror and coming-of-age tale suggests a jaded millennial update of Stephen King’s It. On top of that, a large part of the game is set during the run-up to Harfest, the town of Possum Springs’ annual fall festival, and the beautifully illustrated backgrounds of colored leaves and muted earth tones are sure to put you in an autumnal mood. ~InfinityWaltz

Read our full review of Night in the Woods.

Stories Untold

by No Code

Stories Untold game screenshot courtesy Steam
Stories Untold – screenshot courtesy Steam

Drawing heavily on the look aggregated and amplified in Netflix’s original series Stranger Things, Stories Untold from maverick game publisher Devolver Digital shares little else with that series about suburban magical realism beside the fact that you are in a bedroom of a suburban home playing a 1980s Infocom-style text adventure. As you move through the seemingly innocuous story on your crappy CRT monitor, the world starts to pull you in in unnerving ways. As you move through the four chapters of this creepy tale that mixes textual and diegetic elements in a beautiful dance, you may discover that more things are interwoven than the VHS box art may have let on. Rated “Halloween” for little gore; good for all audiences who can read. ~Indie-Game-Freak

Susurrus: Season of Tides

by Evil Overlord Games

Susurrus game screenshot Evil Overlord Games
Susurrus – screenshot Evil Overlord Games

Featured at this year’s IndieCade festival, Susurrus: Season of Tides is a text-based MMORPG (didn’t we used to call those “MUDs” back in the day?) set in a monster-haunted fantasy world reminiscent of the similarly themed but more traditional MMORPG The Secret World, or for that matter the World of Darkness tabletop RPGs from White Wolf. The developers aim to give this game a similar sense of both player interaction and in-game consequences as a tabletop RPG or LARP session, rather than the usual scripted but often comparatively meaningless events in mainstream MMORPGS, and the evocatively written world of vampires, werewolves and witchcraft is well-suited to late October nights. ~InfinityWaltz

Haunted: Halloween ’86 (The Curse of Possum Hollow)

by Retrotrainment Games

Haunted: Halloween '85 game screenshot courtesy Steam
HAUNTED: Halloween ’86 (The Curse of Possum Hollow) – screenshot courtesy Steam

The follow up to HAUNTED: Halloween ‘85, this is the second in a series of home-brewed NES games so faithful to the format that you can buy them as working cartridges directly from the developers. Made available earlier this year on Steam, HAUNTED: Halloween ‘86 (The Curse of Possum Hollow) offers the best of the era, with a catchy but spooky chiptune soundtrack and art that pushes the boundaries of its 8-bit limitations. Its side-scrolling, beat-’em-up action also has that legendary ‘80s-era difficulty, as frightening as any ghost or goblin. ~InfinityWaltz

Conarium

by Zoetrope Interactive

Conarium game screenshot, tentacled lantern

Inspired by – but not a retelling of – H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, this adventure game offers literal chills with its South Polar environments. By setting the action after the novella, Conarium avoids the pitfalls of direct text-to-game adaptation and tells a new story using the familiar tropes of scientists in Antarctica and the horrid remnants of the past they find there… ~InfinityWaltz

Distrust

by Cheerdealers

Distrust game screenshot courtesy Steam
Distrust – screenshot courtesy Steam

A setting so nice we featured it twice: a base on the Antarctic ice. Like Conarium, this game takes place on an south polar research station, but instead of a first-person adventure, Distrust is a tactical RPG based heavily on John Carpenter’s The Thing. With randomly generated levels and multiple characters and endings to unlock, there’s enough here to keep you chilled – literally and figuratively – well past Halloween. ~InfinityWaltz

A Mortician’s Tale

by Laundry Bear Games

A Mortician's Tale game screenshot courtesy Steam
A Mortician’s Tale – screenshot courtesy Steam

There’s no shortage of games dealing with death – both in and out of the horror genre – but A Mortician’s Tale forces players to deal with death at its most prosaic, not via zombie and vampire tropes or cheap scares, but as inescapable physical fact. Simple point, click and drag controls guide you step-by-step through the mundane realities of embalming and cremation, while an underlying story told via e-mails and interactions explores the reality of death as an industry in modern capitalist society. What better time to explore such topics than Halloween, when the veil between the living and the dead is so thin? ~InfinityWaltz