Top 10 Halloween Games for 2023

Top 10 Indie Games for a Horrifying Halloween 2023

Get ready to unlock the crypt of spine-tingling indie games and unearth the secrets of the season! This Halloween, we’re diving headfirst into a cauldron of chills, thrills, and unforgettably eerie experiences that will haunt your imagination long after the last jack-o’-lantern flickers out. Prepare yourself: it’s time to delve into the dark delights of our favorite season!

Each haunting Halloween horror on our carefully curated list for this year meets four essential criteria: it’s indie, we haven’t featured it before, it’s fully released (not in Early Access), and most importantly, it’s good! Get ready to feast on a trick-or-treat bag filled to the brim with spooky indie game offerings for your autumnal enjoyment!

World of Horror

by panstasz

World of Horror game screenshot, courtesy Steam
World of Horror – screenshot courtesy of Steam

This 1-bit Rogue-like borrows from some obvious cosmic horror influences – most notably Junji Ito and H.P. Lovecraft – that wouldn’t necessarily seem like obvious choices for the more supernatural folk horrors we associate with Halloween, but its themes of encroaching dread slowly overcoming a seemingly ordinary seaside town are a perfect fit for the lengthening shadows and long nights of autumn’s encroachment.

We’ve been eagerly anticipating this one since TheOvermatt covered it in Early Access for his Game Pass Good Stuff column all the way back in 2020, and solo developer pantasz has only improved the game’s procedurally generated mysteries and monstrosities in the subsequent three years.

“Those expecting an edge-of-your-seat spook-fest for the holiday would probably do better with some of the other entries on this list. However, if what you want is a compelling Rogue-like RPG that borrows the best elements of Lovecraft and Ito and gets better as you play it, then you’re in for a treat. It’s basically a video game version of the Arkham Horror board game with killer visuals, and if you’re anything like me, that’s enough to make it your new obsession.” ~TheOvermatt

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Sony PS4, Windows PC, Mac, Steam

Bramble: The Mountain King

by Dimfrost Studio

Bramble: The Mountain King, game screenshot courtesy of Steam
Bramble – screenshot courtesy of Steam

Dimfrost Studio takes things in a more traditional direction: children lost in a haunted forest. The combination of childhood innocence and supernatural scares conjures that feeling of trick-or-treating when you were young enough that even a neighbor in a fright mask was enough to terrify, much less this fairy tale as grim as anything the Brothers Grimm collected.

“Nordic fables have found a comfortable niche in horror games (I mean how could they not? They’re terrifying!), and Bramble is a stellar example of why. It’s a horror adventure that, thanks to its gorgeous visuals and compellingly creepy world, belongs up there with indie darlings like Limbo and INSIDE. If you like your Halloweens equal parts whimsical and nerve-wracking, this one’s for you.” ~TheOvermatt

“Bramble uses shallow depth of field and other camera tricks to put you inside a Lilliputian escapade right out of your childhood forest adventures. Didn’t have forest adventures? Then right out of your favorite Brian Froud pop-up books. Didn’t have those either? Well now, you can have Bramble.” ~Indie-Game-Freak

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Sony PS4, Sony PS5, Microsoft Xbox, Windows PC, Steam

Slay the Princess

by Black Tabby Games

Slay the Princess - screenshot courtesy of Steam
Slay the Princess – screenshot courtesy of Steam

Slay the Princess, on the other hand, takes a classic fairy tale trop and inverts it. There’s a princess held prisoner in a little cabin deep within a dark wood – so far, so typical – but in this choice-driven visual novel, you’ve got to kill her or something terrible will happen. A bit different from the typical ghouls and ghosts, but ideal if you like a little existential dread and surrealism along with your Halloween candy.

“A game as deceptive as it is unsettling, this visual novel tasks you with killing an imprisoned princess to save the world. However, things quickly go wrong in ways I dare not spoil, but trust me when I say you’re not prepared. Featuring tons of branching paths and excellent narration by The Magnus Archives creator Jonathan Sims, this is a real treat for fans of creepy tricks.” ~TheOvermatt

Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Steam

Waterfall Prisoner

by APA Estudi

Waterfall Prisoner went all out for Halloween!

We like to read Poe this time of year – well, any time of year is a good time to read Poe, but Halloween especially – and this virtual escape room immediately had us thinking of stories like “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Will you fare any better than a Poe protagonist at finding your way through the fiendish traps APA Estudi have set in your way?

“My full review of Waterfall Prisoner is coming soon, but I had to add it to the Halloween List. Why? Because of the atmosphere! This game has all the Halloween spirit you could want. You wake up in a damp, dark dungeon. Your only companions are skeletons who never made it out alive.

Relying on clues from cryptic notes and your handiness with whatever objects you can find, you must solve the clues to escape before the dungeon fills with water…or you succumb to the madness that comes from hearing nothing but the slow, ominous trickle of water and the faint cries of LOST SOULS who couldn’t think calmly enough to solve the puzzles and escape! A chilling challenge for those who love a little bit of strategy with their screams.” ~Aeryn

Read our complete review of Waterfall Prisoner.

Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Steam

Children of Silentown

by Elf Games, Luna2 Studio

Children of Silentown - screenshot courtesy of Steam
Children of Silentown – screenshot courtesy of Steam

Kids confronting real monsters is a classic Halloween theme, from the motley crew confronting cosmic clown horrors in Stephen King’s IT to the modern angst of Mae Borowski and friends in Night in the Woods, and the setting of Children of Silentown – a little village deep inside a forest full of real-life, child-abducting monsters – makes for ideal autumnal gaming.

A narrative-driven adventure game that’s both whimsical and eerie, this one reminds us of Sally Face and Fran Bow both in its themes and a cute-but-spooky visual style that borrows from comic book artists like Roman Dirge and Jhonen Vasquez.

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Sony PS4, Sony PS5, Microsoft Xbox, Windows PC, Steam

Killer Frequency

by Team17 Digital

Killer Frequency - screenshot courtesy of Steam
Killer Frequency – screenshot courtesy of Steam

Halloween is a holiday – the best holiday of all, if you ask us – but it’s also the name of the John Carpenter film that basically defined the entire slasher movie genre. Team17 Digital offers a unique interactive take on the subgenre with Killer Frequency. The twist: you’re the host of a late-night radio call-in show, and your listeners are being hunted down one by one. Can you keep them safe? Think Not for Broadcast but with lots more blood.

Set in a small town in the ’80s, this game is loaded with atmosphere, chills, and not a little mordant humor. You might laugh a little while playing this one, but it’ll be nervous laughter.

“Some great Deskpunk in the line of Five Nights At Freddy’s and Not for Broadcast, but with the cut of Halloween.” ~Indie-Game-Freak

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Sony PS4, Sony PS5, Meta Quest 2, Microsoft Xbox, Windows PC, Steam

El Paso, Elsewhere

by Strange Scaffold

El Paso, Elsewhere - screenshot courtesy of Steam
El Paso, Elsewhere – screenshot courtesy of Steam

This one reminds us of a Carpenter film, too: Vampires. It doesn’t have James Woods or that one Baldwin brother, but it does have a southwestern setting, plenty of over-the-top action, and tons of supernatural monsters.

You’ll go slowly mad as you blast your way through the bowels of a demon-infested motel in this neo-noir third-person shooter that reminds us a bit of Max Payne, thanks to its troubled protagonist, and Painkiller, thanks to the sheer number of werewolves, vampires, demons, and other creatures of the night you’ll be shooting at.

Platforms: Sony PS4, Sony PS5, Microsoft Xbox, Windows PC, Steam

Propagation: Paradise Hotel

by Wanadev Studio

screenshot of a corpse in Propagation: paradise hotel
Is he dead or alive? Don’t stick around long enough to find out,”

Our haunted Halloween road trip takes us from demonic motel to zombie-infested hotel with Propagation: Paradise Hotel, the newest offering in Wanadev Studio‘s apocalyptic horror VR series. Much like The Shining, the titular Paradise Hotel is a character in its own right, and IGR writer Aeryn, who has experience working in a large resort hotel herself, was especially impressed by the game’s verisimilitude.

She also praised the sound design, likening it to such horror classics as the Amnesia series, and the nightmarish quality of the zombies, which were enough to elicit some real-life screams.

Read our complete review of Propagation: Paradise Hotel.

Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive/Pro/Focus 3/Cosmos, Pico Neo3/4, Meta Quest, Windows MR/HP Reverb G2, Valve Index, Steam

Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness

by Indiesruption

Vlad Circus - screenshot courtesy of Steam
Vlad Circus – screenshot courtesy of Steam

Seasonal scares go hand-in-hand with spooky circuses and creepy carnivals. Indiesruption joins the likes of Something Wicked This Way Comes, Freaks, and Killer Klowns from Outer Space and a touch of the old Dropsy, with Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness, an exploration of psychological horror set in the aftermath of a 1920s circus fire.

Nightmares and reality collide as haunted protagonist Oliver Mills struggles with puzzles, monsters, and his own mind. The evocative pixel art and maze-like mansion of a setting remind us a little of the best parts of Lovecraft’s Untold Stories, albeit with fewer tentacles and scarier clowns. The psychological horror and dark carnival imagery, meanwhile, have us thinking of Strangeland.

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Sony PS4, Sony PS5, Microsoft Xbox, Windows PC, Steam

Gordy and the Monster Moon

by Twinbeard

Gordy and the Monster Moon - screenshot courtesy of Steam
Gordy and the Monster Moon – screenshot courtesy of Steam

Scary stuff is great, but sometimes horror – psychological, gory, or otherwise – is a bit too much. Halloween isn’t just supposed to be scary; it’s also supposed to be fun and sweet, what with dressing up in costumes and getting free candy.

On that note, we close with a little treat – no trick – from the fine Frog Fractions folks at Twinbeard. An exploration-driven offering in the vein of The Legend of Zelda, it’s got plenty of pumpkins and witches and skeletons and candy corn for that Halloween flavor, but no gore, just old-school action and colorful pixel art. And at just over an hour, you’ll chew through Gordy and the Monster Moon faster than a fun-sized Snickers bar.

Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Steam

What haunting Halloween indie games are you hoping to find in your trick-or-treat bag this year? Let us know in the comments!