It’s almost Halloween, which means it’s time to start painting everything orange and covering random objects in sheets with cutout eyeholes. However, just because it’s the spooky season, doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be horrifying.
Horror video games are their own genre with many excellent titles and dedicated fans, but the content and jump scares can be a bit too much, especially for those faint of heart. For those wanting some video games to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve without the risk of heart attack, here are some excellent non-scary games full of zombies, ghosts, monsters, vampires, and more.
Updated on October 4, 2023, by William Quick: With autumn now in full swing, the spooky season has already started no matter what anybody says. While the young ones prepare their optimal trick-or-treat routes, the older ones can look forward to fun costume parties, scary movies, and scary games. Still, something doesn’t have to be scary in order to fit in with the tone and atmosphere of the season and some of us just don’t like to be scared. For a lighter experience in the scary season, here are some games with scary concepts presented in a non-terrifying way.
19 Have A Nice Death
Death can be scary, but it’s also a natural part of life. In addition to that according to Magic Design Studios, death is also a business that you get to experience in Have A Nice Death. More accurately, you get to experience the effects of burnout caused by endless hours and crushing paperwork.
The game follows the Grim Reaper who started a company to help with his reaping and hire a bunch of demons to help out. The problem is that over time, the demons gained more control, draining the Grim Reaper of his powers, and sticking him behind a desk. Well, the Grim Reaper has had enough and will take back his company showing who’s the boss in this challenging and cartoon 2D roguelite adventure.
Much like farming, fishing is the frequent fantasy of those wishing to escape the corporate rat race and live a simple life. Despite this, weird things can happen on the vast and open ocean like in Dredge.
Developed by Black Salt Games, the game puts you into the role of a fisherman who takes a job in the town of Greater Marrow situated in a part of the sea surrounded by various islands. As you start to fish to earn a living, you’ll catch some weird creatures that defy explanation. When night comes, you’ll have to navigate through a dense black fog full of ghostly whispers. This 3D fishing adventure game is creepy with some dark things going on, but it’s mostly relaxing and enjoyable like fishing should be.
17 Death Or Treat
As we get older, we sadly outgrow the activity of trick or treat unless we’re escorting kids around. That’s why we have to seek it in other forms like Death Or Treat by Saona Studios.
The hero is a puppet-like ghost named Scary who comes to HallowTown to sell his candies. Unfortunately, the town and its citizens have been consumed by a number of apps that have robbed their desire for candy and the town has fallen apart. To save his town and his business, Scary needs to take down the different heads of each app using Halloween powers and weapons in this thematically pleasant 2D roguelite journey.
16 Cult Of The Lamb
Lambs are so cute and fluffy and delicious but have often appeared in dark ceremonies, being called sacrificial lambs. One of these lambs is going to be fighting back in Cult of the Lamb by Massive Monster.
The game begins on a downer note as a nameless Lamb prepares to be sacrificed for the purposes of four powerful Bishops. Upon death, a dark entity called The One Who Waits offers to revive the Lamb with the power of the Red Crown in exchange for their service. The Lamb revives and begins a crusade against each of the Bishops. However, there’s also a light side to this hack-and-slash 2D roguelite where you grow and manage a cult, making sure that all your adorable little cult members remain happy, healthy, productive, and loyal.
15 Grim Fandango
A classic LucasArts game with a remastered spin, Tim Schafer’s Grim Fandango is a unique and charming game with an art style as entertaining as its humor. Grim Fandango mashes story-laden adventure with point-and-click mystery-solving puzzles. The mid-afterlife travel agency setting is reminiscent of old film noir, with its dramatic cuts and classic television soundtrack.
Double Fine Productions, founded by Schafer himself, gave fans a beautiful remaster of the 1998 relic. The game’s post-death scenery and humor, and cartoonish 3D-rendered skeleton characters make for a good spooky time without any genuine scares.
14 Death Road To Canada
This gem of a zombie game was developed by Rocketcat Games and launched in 2016, with multiple large free updates in the following years. The story has the zombie apocalypse in full swing, with you attempting to travel from Florida to Canada by any means necessary, as Canada is rumored to be completely zombie-free.
Anything can happen on the Death Road to Canada: you must make your way through randomly generated levels to pick up supplies, rescue survivors, and keep their car in good enough shape, all while fending off zombies with whatever weapons they can find.
This game’s charm comes from its pixel art graphics, plucky chiptune-esque soundtrack, and hilarious dialogue and random events, making a terrifying event quite entertaining and funny. Death Road to Canada’s KIDNEY update was released in September 2020 and has a multiplayer mode, giving even more reason to pick this game up as a Halloween treat.
13 Night In The Woods
All aboard the feelings train. First stop: Possum Springs. Infinite Fall and Secret Lab’s animated adventure game, Night in the Woods is a rollercoaster. Set around Halloween time, the game follows Mae and her childhood friends through a tale of drama, mystery, and good old-fashioned small-town cults.
Night in the Woods isn’t a scary, horror-filled game, but it will run you through every other emotion possible while you’re playing it. The spooky feeling gets eerier and more convoluted the further you get. Uncovering clues always seems to raise more questions than answers.
12 Luigi’s Mansion 3
The best of its series to date, Luigi’s Mansion 3 has Luigi and friends invited on a vacation to the Last Resort, a fancy high-rise hotel, only for poor Luigi to wake up in a deserted building filled with ghosts. With the help of Professor E. Gadd and his loyal pal Polterpup, Luigi must explore the 17 floors of the hotel while capturing ghosts and fighting bosses in true Mario Bros. fashion.
In addition to its great single-player story, Luigi’s Mansion 3 has a multiplayer mode that can host up to eight players locally or online, allowing friends to bust ghosts and play cooperative games like ScareScraper and ScreamPark.
11 Maniac Mansion
Maniac Mansion wasn’t wildly successful upon its launch, which is how most future cult classics are received. It came out on consoles such as the Commodore 64 and Amiga, but its most successful was on the NES in 1987 and is known for being one of the early point-and-click games that would go on to define the genre (as did LucasArts’ other titles).
The premise starts out simple enough: teenager Dave must rescue his kidnapped girlfriend from a mad scientist whose mind is being controlled by a sentient meteor. From there, things just get wackier, with you using commands such as ‘Push,’ ‘Walk to,’ or ‘Read’ in order to solve puzzles and progress the story. The game’s designers Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick wanted to tell a story with a comedic take on the clichés of B-movies and horror films, making it primarily a funny experience rather than a scary one.
10 Sam & Max: Night Of The Raving Dead
When game company LucasArts decided to move away from adventure games, many of its developers left and went on to found their own company, Telltale Games. Though now defunct and no longer making games, it was responsible for such games as The Walking Dead, Back to The Future, and Sam & Max, particularly its second season, Sam & Max Through Time & Space. Its third episode, Night of the Raving Dead, is the perfect point-and-click game to celebrate Halloween with some laughs.
Not only do Sam & Max go to a vampire’s castle rave in Germany, but they are turned into zombies, encounter a Frankenstein monster, and try to help it find love. It’s another wild adventure from the Freelance Police that is at its best during the spooky season of October.
9 Costume Quest
For those wanting a game explicitly about the holiday of Halloween itself, there’s Costume Quest. When their twin sibling is captured by a monster on Halloween, Reynold/Wren must find them by trick-or-treating and battling monsters all across the neighborhood and beyond.
Luckily, the children aren’t up against monsters unprepared: the costumes that they wear will transform them into real-life versions, such as a knight or a mech robot. This game is a wonderful mix of adventure, RPG, and nostalgia. Its sequel, Costume Quest 2, improves upon the original game and is absolutely worth checking out.
8 Pumpkin Jack
Spooky-themed 3D platforming is back, and Pumpkin Jack feels like the melting pot of the entire subgenre. It’s reminiscent of games like MediEvil and Jak And Daxter. This bite-sized action-adventure serving from Headup Games and Beep Japan perfectly encapsulates the PlayStation 2 era and welcomes nostalgia to the contemporary PC game era.
If you’re into collecting, swift fighting, and platforming puzzles then Pumpkin Jack covers all your bases, with a few extra features on top. Step into your best villain role and help evil conquer all in honor of the Halloween season.
7 Haunt The House: Terrortown
If the premise of haunting a house and possessing objects in order to spook some humans is appealing, then Haunt the House: Terrortown is exactly what the mad doctor ordered. This 2014 game has side-scrolling, action, and puzzles as you haunt and possess your way through town in order to scare people away and “reclaim what has been lost.”
Not only do you control a ghost, but an adorable ghost who can wreak havoc by possessing hundreds of different objects to scare a wide cast of frightened townsfolk.
6 Ghost Master
Want to play as a ghost but with a bit more realism, story, and strategy? Ghost Master is the answer. Launched in 2003-4 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, this game has you control the Ghost Master, who has a variety of different duties: haunting, avenging deaths, increasing supernatural belief, and recruiting rebel ghosts.
Ghost Masters can’t directly interfere with the mortal world, so you must assign their trained subordinate ghosts to get the job done. This game takes a great idea and combines it with excellent strategy gaming, with fairly complex levels and factors to keep track of. A Ghost Master’s work is never done.
5 Hollow Knight
It might not be a scary game, but Team Cherry’s explorative 2D platformer Hollow Knight isn’t for the faint of heart. Hallownest is a dangerous, treacherous place filled with a wide cast of characters. Some of them are regular, relatable people and others are haunted husks of their former selves.
The setting itself is a decaying, abandoned kind of purgatory, a victim of entropy and impurity. It’s a good time of the year to explore a kingdom of ghosts and wandering souls, but know that there is no easy path to the end for you here.
4 Mr. Bones
For surreal and experimental, for eccentric and astounding, and even for comedic and ambitious… there is no game like Mr. Bones. Launched on the Sega Saturn in 1996, the plot follows the evil DaGoulian who seeks to purify the world with evil, believing that good can only exist in opposition to evil. He raises an army of evil skeletal soldiers from a graveyard, but one of them is pure of heart and retains his free will, much to the dismay of DaGoulian, who orders his destruction. The rebel’s name? Mr. Bones.
A kind-hearted skeleton with no beating heart, Mr. Bones sets out to stop DaGoulian’s plot, which leads to outrageous gameplay and full-motion video cutscenes made by what is now known as Rockstar Studios. Mr. Bones will keep you guessing, introducing a different type of gameplay and mechanics for almost every level.
Mr. Bones cannot be held down by definitions or genre, dipping his skeletal finger in every pie, whether it be action/platforming to guitar-shredding to telling stand-up jokes. Truly, Mr. Bones tries to do it all, and while he may not succeed, his sheer effort and imagination beg you to see it through to the end, whether from the absurdity of it all or a sincere connection with Mr. Bones himself.
3 Monster Prom
Monster Prom is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek dating sim made by developers Beautiful Glitch and launched in 2018 after a successful Kickstarter in 2017. Monster Prom at Spooky High is in three weeks, and you must befriend and woo the monster/robot/eldritch creature of your choice in order to ask them to the prom. You can choose from four different playable characters in order to pursue one of the many adorable/hot monster students of Spooky High, all while managing their stats and collecting items.
The game is short and able to be played in either 30 minutes or an hour, but it sports dozens of different endings and over a thousand unique randomized interactions, making replayability its best trait. The game also has DLC and a multiplayer mode, allowing up to four people to play in the same game as individual students.
2 Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night
No doubt the most iconic game on this list, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is commonly agreed to be the best game in the series, as well as the best Metroidvania-style game which has inspired countless others. What makes Castlevania, so great is its commitment to the esthetics and atmosphere of Transylvania, vampires, and various monsters that spark our imaginations (but don’t give us nightmares).
Other games in the series that capture the feeling of Halloween perfectly are Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse and Super Castlevania 4, both featuring the classic Medusa heads, ghosts, and delightfully creepy stages such as haunted libraries and dungeons.
Resource Management has never felt more wholesome and pure. Spiritfarer, from Thunder Lotus Games, is a story of love and loss. Stella is the Spiritfarer, the soul-ferrying replacement of Charon from Greek mythology. You take control of the ancient vessel and bring souls aboard, all of which have a connection to you and business to finish before they can move on.
It’s your responsibility to maintain the ship and keep everyone happy and fed while exploring the spirit world. And make sure they get lots of hugs. The real draw of Spiritfarer is the fishing minigame, though.
NEXT: The Best Story-Driven Horror Games