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Top 10 Halloween Games for 2021 – Devilish Delights

Top 10 Halloween Games for 2021

Shadows lengthen, winds moan, and the twin smells of dead leaves and pumpkin spice lattes hover in the cool night air. It’s that time again, the time for ghouls to growl, black cats to prowl, and werewolves to howl (not to mention all the witches working overtime).

Yes, our favorite holiday is here again, and we’re ready to help you celebrate with 10 devilish delights. Read on, if you dare, and check out:

IGR’s Top 10 Indie Games for a Devilishly Delightful 2021 Halloween

Rogue Lords

by Leikir Studio, Cyanide Studio

Rogue Lords game screenshot, combat in the swamp

So many of our present-day Halloween traditions date back to early colonial times – even the use of the pumpkin as a Jack-o-Lantern medium is a New World update from the turnips used originally in Ireland – so what could be more appropriate for the holiday than scaring a bunch of Puritans?

Rogue Lords puts you in the role of the devil himself, overseeing a party of monsters terrorizing an alternate history version of colonial New England. And did we mention that said monster party involves a rogue’s gallery – no pun intended – of all your favorite monsters from film, literature, and even schoolyard myth? That’s right, Bloody Mary escaped the bathroom mirror for this one, and she’s joined by the likes of Count Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, and the Headless Horseman.

Rogue Lords game screenshot, character sheet

The mechanics here should be familiar to fans of games like Monster Train and Slay the Spire. It’s a somewhat procedurally generated journey involving combat, collecting and upgrading powers, and choice-driven encounters. It also offers a couple of twists, most notably a “Devil Mode” that lets you cheat the RNG.

But the draw here isn’t so much the mechanics as the delightfully devilish Halloween atmosphere, and our cup of campy horror overfloweth. Monsters terrorizing the countryside! Vampires! Ghosts! The Grim Reaper himself (as a shopkeeper, no less)!

And if there’s any lingering sliver of doubt, each scene transition is accompanied by a cloud of screeching bats!

Read our complete review of Rogue Lords.

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Strangeland

by Wormwood Studios

Strangeland game screenshot, Woman

There’s no better way to celebrate a haunted harvest season than with a creepy carnival (Ray Bradbury taught us that in Something Wicked This Way Comes).

Wormwood Studios leans into that feeling – the mixture of fear, excitement, and just plain weirdness – with Strangeland, their latst game published by venerable indie adventure game company Wadjet Eye Games.

IGR writer FICTiVETRUisM praised this one for its engaging mystery and the way it used dark, surrealistic imagery to tackle themes related to mental health and trauma, but it doesn’t take a psychology degree to realize that the concept of an evil carnival controlled by a mysterious entity known only as The Dark Thing – not to mention such vivid scenes as a woman removing her own face – makes this a perfect selection for players in search of eerie autumnal imagery.

Read our complete review of Strangeland.

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Dap

by Melting Parrot

Dap game, Featured Image

“Don’t go into the deep woods on Halloween, or bad things will happen to you” has been accepted advice for at least the past 500 years or so. Dap doesn’t give you a choice; you’re already in the woods, and bad things are already happening.

Developers Melting Parrot create a deep mood of forest horror here, and they combine it with some unexpected and brilliant choices, both mechanical and aesthetic. IGR writer Kit Goodliffe describes it as “Pikmin, but horrifying,” and the sense of dread as you attempt to keep your little heard of Daps – they’re a bit like the forest spirits in Princess Mononoke – safe from their corrupted brethren and other evils lurking in the haunted trees is all the more powerful in contrast to the softer, more wondrous areas of the woods.

Read our complete review of Dap.

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Martha

by Affordable Cat

Martha game screenshot, creepy jack-o-lantern

First-time solo developer Chris Willis (a.k.a Affordable Cat) sticks to familiar first-person horror tropes here, but Martha makes brilliant use of them. Yes, there’s a fuse box puzzle and lots of keys and notes to discover, and yes, there are jump scares.

But the game is suffused with a sense of dread that builds slowly – much of the game, especially early on, is less about even solving the puzzles than simply exploring and soaking in the creepy atmosphere – making the appearance of the titular ghostly antagonist all the more terrifying.

Willis makes great use of light, as well, from the ominous appearance of candle-lit shrines to wall paintings that seem to grow more menacing under the guttering beam of your flashlight.

An unexpected delight of a haunted house game.

Read our complete review of Martha.

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam, Itch.io

Angels Cove

by CG Cowboy Studios

Angels Cove game screenshot

Another first-person haunted house offering, Angels Cove draws heavily on contemporary ghost stories – in fact, your character is a supernatural investigator sent to explain spooky occurrences on a crumbling island estate – ranging from reality shows like Ghost Hunters to the semi-fictional “based on a true story” films like The Conjuring and its many spin-offs.

You’ve got your haunted dolls, your remote camera set-up, your tape recorder for picking up “electronic voice phenomena” (ghosts talking to you)…but despite the familiarity fans of today’s found-footage horror might feel, it’s extremely effective: this is perhaps the scariest game on our list, and it creates both an encroaching atmosphere of terror – and several effective jump scares – without resorting to gore and violence.

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

No One Lives under the Lighthouse (Director’s Cut)

by Sowoke Entertainment Bureau

No One Lives Under the Lighthouse game screenshot

Speaking of slowly building spooky atmosphere, No One Lives under the Lighthouse, originally released in 2020 but more recently made available as a Director’s Cut that substantially changes the latter half of the game and offers additional endings, is slow-burn, fog-enveloped spookiness perfect for Halloween.

From the deliberately clunky retro aesthetic – it’s meant to resemble a lost, low-budget PS1-era horror game – to its tension-ratcheting score, this one is a near-perfect two-hour slice of horror.

Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Steam

Dread X Collection: The Hunt

by DreadXP

Dread X Collection: The Hunt game screenshot

For even more bite-sized chunks of horror – think of it as trick-or-treat bag full of fun-sized FPS games – the latest anthology in the Dread X Collection anthology series features everything from hunting ghosts to hunting zombies.

Sometimes you’ll be shooting weapons, sometimes photographs, but this one’s got all sorts of seasonal scares, from demons and ghosts to zombies and other-dimensional void creatures, all set within the framing device of an abandoned arctic base. (If you’ve seen The Thing, you already know what that probably means.)

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

BATS: Bloodsucker Anti-Terror Squad

by Ritual Games

BATS game screenshot

What if G.I. Joe…but vampires? BATS: Bloodsucker Anti-Terror Squad is the answer to the question we hadn’t realized we were asking, and its nonstop gory action of the Mega Man variety should satisfy the Halloween urges of twitchy-fingered action junkies.

Despite loads of self-aware humor and cutesy anime references – your terrorist-hunting vampire’s pink bat sidekick looks like a proposed Pokémon character rejected for being too cute – there’s plenty of difficulty and gore alike here. Easy to pick up, difficult to defeat, and so much pixellated gore! This one does for blood what Broforce did for explosions.

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Xbox One, Windows PC, Steam

Osteoblasts

by Moonana

Osteoblasts game screenshot

A graveyard…guarded by a skeleton…animated by a witch…who is also a black cat. It seems to hit all the Halloween points, but Osteoblasts is a weird subversion of spooky cliches as much as a celebration of them.

For one, there’s the color scheme, employing at least as many pinks and purples as autumnal oranges.

Then there’s the plot: the player, as aforementioned skeleton, is protecting the graveyard from an army of dogs. It makes sense – dogs love bones, and cemeteries are full of them – but also exemplifies this turn-based RPG’s quirky, self-aware approach, which ends up owing more to Undertale than Alone in the Dark.

Read our previous coverage of Osteoblasts in InfinityWaltz’s Column of Curiosities.

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Detective from the Crypt

by BOV

Detectives from the Crypt game screenshot

For a more conventional take on cemeteries and the goings-on therein, Detective from the Crypt is a classic point-and-click mystery about a girl – and a pale-skinned, dark-haired girl straight out of an Edgar Allen Poe story, no less – attempting to solve the mystery of her own death.

As you work your way through the story – mostly by classic inventory puzzles, of course – you’ll not only learn the secret of your own death but also help out the fellow ghosts residing in your family’s cemetery. What better way to spend the nights when the veil between the living and the dead grows thinnest?

Platforms: Windows PC, Linux, Steam

Solo Tabletop RPG Bonus Offering

Follow Me in the Night: A Cursed Radio

by The Dice

Follow Me in the Night: A Cursed Radio game cover

Of course, all of these video games are awfully modern for a tradition as ancient as Halloween, so why not try something a little less dependent upon modern technology? Follow Me in the Night: A Cursed Radio can be played by the Jack-o-lantern, though if you choose to use a regular lamp we won’t judge you…much.

Much like Thousand Year Old Vampire (a discovery from last year’s IndieCade Festival), this game is a series of prompts – driven by dice and a deck of cards – to create the story of a single night and the supernatural detective, haunted by ghosts internal and external alike, who stumbles through it.

As a bonus, each play-through also demands the creation of a playlist…a soundtrack, perhaps, for next year’s Halloween hauntings?

What are you playing to get into the spirit – pun intended – of Halloween this year? Let us know in the comments!

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