Top 10 Halloween Games for 2022
Our friends in Italy were asking for Instagram pics of Halloween decorations here in North America, as they do not typically share that tradition where they are. From Toronto to Los Angeles, we snapped photos of cute ghosts and giant spiders, cobwebs from curb to eavestrough, animatronic zombies, hand-carved jack-o-lanterns, and other common tropes that warm spirits as the days get colder. And then there is the other stuff – lobotomized mummies, decapitated vampires, disemboweled strippers…pretty grim stuff for kids to walk past.
Some neighborhood displays are winsome and spooky, and some are questionably teetering on the brink of psychopathic aggression. In all cases, the veil is thinner than ever between the world we now inhabit and the mysterious phantom realms where time and matter operate in different ways.
In this spirit, IGR has assembled a list of game experiences from the beguiling to the nightmarish. When we face the darkness, we learn something about ourselves. Let us now peer into its depths…
The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow
by Cloak and Dagger Games
The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow is a brilliantly executed classic point-and-click adventure – as we’ve come to expect from Wadjet Eye Games – that checks all the right boxes for autumnal folk horror. Little British village? Check. Villagers hiding dark secrets from the prying eyes of outsiders? Check. Disturbing dreams? Check. A growing sense of dread despite the seemingly bucolic rural setting? This game has all the right stuff for fans of films like The Wicker Man, making it a perfect delivery vehicle for a haunting harvest season.
In his review, FictiveTruism particularly praised the game’s voice actors for doing “a phenomenal job of portraying suspicious, mysterious townsfolk.” He went on to praise the game as “one of the best adventure games to come out this year.”
Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Steam
by Bad Viking
“With an experience that asks little more of you than the attention to read some notes, look up some locations on maps, and track the properties of plants, Strange Horticulture sure makes for thoughtful and outré storytelling. You see, you have been handed over control of a botanist’s apothecary and inherited all of their quirky and demanding clientele in the process. Make poor choices, and their dissatisfaction may eventually lead to dangerous consequences (you are trying to create cures for them, after all), and the shattering of your ego and confidence such that you will have to painstakingly and literally put them all back together again if you wish to salvage your passage and legacy to that point.
A gentle, somber, compelling, and always deliciously eerie journey for those who aren’t up for gore or jump-scares, and fans of games like Papers, Please and Wunderdoktor. The October 2022 Halloween update adds some thematic touches to celebrate the season…of the witch.” ~Indie-Game-Freak
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, Steam
by Strange Scaffold
Witch Strandings highlights the potential for conceptual and mechanical weirdness that we love so much about the indie game scene. Developers Strange Scaffold – previously best known for Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator – initially wanted to create a game that combined the long-distance foot travel themes of Death Stranding with a purely mouse-driven control scheme.
The resulting grid-based map system may be lacking in Norman Reedus, but it makes up for it with thick atmosphere driven both by a moody color palette and extensive text portraying a haunting – and occasionally comical – tale but restoring balance to a witch-haunted wood, a bit like a more overtly Halloween-oriented version of Wilderplace.
Platforms: Windows PC, Steam
Unquestionably one of the major indie game events of the year, Vampire Survivors burst from its crypt to declare the birth of a new genre: the horde game, somehow combining idle clicker with bullet hell with RPG progression. As IGR editor Indie-Game-Freak puts it in his review, the mechanics lead to a Zen-like state encouraging a less-is-more approach to the arcade action: “You really should be able to stand your ground and just take down the pulsating, rippling throngs of undead evil coming your way without batting an eyelash.”
We’re all for innovation, of course, but this is also a great Halloween game for several reasons. For one, short runs are perfect for playing between bouts of feeding candy to trick-or-treaters. For another, did we mention the endless hordes of bats?
Platforms: Windows PC, Steam
by Jasozz Games
“While most retro shooters aim to recreate either the labyrinthine facilities of DOOM or twitch-shooter sensibilities of Quake, Cultic has its blood-stained eyes firmly set on the Blood franchise. Battling a murderous cult is a blast thanks to a combination of viscerally satisfying weapons, well-hidden secrets, and buckets of gore. Accompanied by a moody soundtrack and creepy digitized visuals, the game is perfect for Halloween and a legitimately impressive first showing from solo developer Jason Smith (Jasozz Games). At its $10 price point, it’s a scarily good deal.” ~TheOvermatt
Platforms: Windows PC, Steam
Cult of the Lamb
by Massive Monster
Speaking of cults, Cult of the Lamb is a case study in contrasts: the creeping dread of ’70s Satanic cult horror like Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen juxtaposed with the sort of creepy/cute animal cartoons you might expect to see on Hot Topic merchandise, for one thing, and the high-speed Rogue-lite antics of The Binding of Isaac crossed with a management game. The procedurally generated action sequences are solid, but where this one really glows – with evil red eyes, of course – is in the development and management of your worshipers, right down to blood sacrifices. Running an apocalyptic devil-worship cult has never been quite so accessible…or so cuddly.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Sony PS4, Sony PS5, Microsoft Xbox, Windows PC, Steam
Lost in Random
by Zoink, Thunderful
“Lost in Random brings back all the whimsical, quirky-character-filled storytelling joy of a Double Fine game (Psychonauts, The Cave, Stacking) with the numinous everWeen score of an Elfman and the UV color palettes we associate with dark rides and the far sides of looking glasses. Lost in Random damns the RNG torpedoes and makes it the central theme of the world: where every number of the die is a different society enjoying different degrees of strife, hubris, intrigue, and semblance of pleasure. Along the way, you will traverse wonky, twirling landscape, stealth your way past various forms of gatekeepers, and surely experience an adventure that will get your Halloween thermometer climbing to the top of the tower.” ~Indie-Game-Freak
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Sony PS4, Microsoft Xbox One, Windows PC, Steam
The Mortuary Assistant
by DarkStone Digital
“One of the big things that a lot of horror games seem to forget is that predictability is the death of terror (or, in festive terms, every treat needs a trick to go along with it). The Mortuary Assistant solves this not only by combining a job simulator with fending off increasingly terrifying forces, but by encouraging replays and randomizing events across them. It never lets you feel safe, and when combined with the game’s stellar writing and voice work, this is an experience that will haunt you well past Halloween. Take up the position… if you dare.” ~TheOverMatt
Platforms: Windows PC, Steam
by Mousetrap Games
Jars is like a tower defense game as designed by Puggsly Addams. Instead of robots and gun turrets, or for that matter magic towers and goblin hordes, this game has you pitting the titular jars – each containing insects, spiders, and all other manner of unsettling things that creep, crawl, or occasionally buzz through the air – against one another. It’s a simple concept that spins out into some truly clever examples of level design wrapped in a visual approach that’s giggle-inducing as well as ghoulish.
by OverBorder Studio
“If, like me, your Halloween often involves your umpteenth replay of FromSoftware‘s gothic horror masterpiece Bloodborne, then rejoice because there’s a new masked face in your gaslamp-lit town. Thymesia may not have the bombast and peerless art design of its AAA cousin, but what it does have is a wonderfully spooky world to hack and slash your way through, a rock-solid combat system, and tons of weapon and item customization to tailor your playstyle with. It’s an exhilarating challenge as razor-sharp as your cloaked protagonist’s menagerie of death-dealing tools.” ~TheOverMatt
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Sony PS5, Microsoft Xbox, Windows PC, Steam
So how did you enjoy the list? Have you played on of these titles? Have some of your own you would love to share?
Trick or treat!