The best non-scary video games this Halloween
Spooktober is upon us, and all about are terrifying titles: Amnesia: Rebirth, Phasmophobia, Remothered: Broken Porcelain, and even Lust From Beyond: Scarlet have recently launched. The spooky colon brigade is out in force this year.
Here at Hexagorgon, we’re channelling a different Halloween vibe—one that’s much more relaxed. We’ve got spooks and skeletons, trivia and taxes, witchy wanderers and undead fresh from the underworld.
The key characteristic these games share is that they’ve nailed the Halloween theming without raising the fear factor.
So if you’re sick to the teeth with jump scares and can’t face surviving another horror, read on for the team’s favourite spooky-not-scary Halloween video games.
We’re serving up three flavours:
- Single player spooking—games that are designed to be played alone.
- You are/not alone—spooky games for 1-8 players.
- Multiplayer: the more the freakier—multiplayer games without single player content.
Single player spooking
What: Be a cool monster hunter going around the world being bad-ass. Also features incredible story-telling.
Spooky credentials: Meet all sorts of monsters, some of which you won’t have heard of!
Non-scary angle: Steeped in single player RPG goodness. Your character is literally designed to kill the spooky things. It’s single player, so play how you want to. The spookiest missions are optional side quests (though they’re still incredible so don’t miss them).
Serving suggestion: Remember every now and then that this isn’t real, and appreciate the incredible world-building and effort that went into this game. Also complete every quest you can get your hands on, they are AMAZING! Also play Gwent.
Single player, ARPG, AAA, Narrative
What: Uncover just how the entire crew of the good ship Obra Dinn ended up dead, and work out which body belongs to who.
Spooky credentials: You’re exclusively seeing the end of people’s lives and the few seconds run up to it and trying to piece together the awful series of events on board everyone’s favourite seafaring vessel.
Non-scary angle: Strong stylisation cuts the teeth of the gorier scenes, and it’s very much a “take at your own pace” game.
Serving suggestion: Great to play with a friend; bouncing ideas off each other and trying to solve the mystery together is super satisfying and rewarding.
Single player, Backseat help, Mystery
What: A rogue-lite where you play the son of Hades, god of the Underworld, which you’re trying to escape from. The game just escaped early access, and it’s by Supergiant who made Bastion, Pyre, and Transistor.
Spooky credentials: Filled with ghouls, skeletons, and your favourite Greek gods. You’re either interacting with dead things (spooky) or the gods themselves (powerful).
Non-scary angle: The art style is just lovely, and there are no jump scares or anything. Just some ghostly things and plenty of Greek mythology.
Serving suggestion: Get the audiobook of Steven Fry’s Mythos and learn about the gods as you try to escape.
Single player, Action, Suggestive Content
What: You take on the role of a Grim—a drone in the office of Fate—tasked with reading the profiles of living humans who are in unknown near-death situations. You choose whether they should live or die. It’s not so simple, though; Fate gives a daily quota and additional instructions about who should die. If you follow them to the letter you’ll be rewarded, but the consequences of your decisions ripple out through society. Is this just a job, or do you want to take matters into your own, bony hands?
Spooky credentials: You literally play as the Grim Reaper in a safe, clean office environment! You can choose from a variety of spooky appearances while you have strange conversations with your mirror, and Mortimer the pirate skeleton in the basement has a variety of extra outfits and desktop gadgets for you.
Non-scary angle: There’s no horror aspect to the game. All the questions posed are existential, and through your conversations with Fate this can lean towards hopeful.
Serving suggestion: Play through it in 2-4 hours, and if you want to try some different outcomes, do it again!
Single player, Choices matter
What: Tower-defence style comedy game, in which you play a botanist saving yourself from a zombie invasion.
Spooky credentials: Full of zombies!
Non-scary angle: It’s a comedy game in a cartoon style. There are no actually scary moments in it The appearance of the zombies is the scariest thing, and they look super not-scary. They also sometimes wear funny hats!
Serving suggestion: Fire this up for a relaxed time. Choose the 2009 original for some serious nostalgia.
Single player, Casual, Tower defence
What: Investigate a murder among New York’s labyrinthine vampire underworld in this visual novel set in the Vampire: The Masquerade universe.
Spooky credentials: Since everyone you meet is either a vampire or a tasty snack, the action takes place at night. The narrator is a canny blend of self-conscious noir and downbeat millennial.
Non-scary angle: The art shies away from the gory aspects of vampirism. Death occurs off-screen. The story is more about identity and inequality than things that go bump in the night.
Serving suggestion: Treat it like a murder mystery film: get comfy, get snacks (of the human variety), but also get in the right head space to confront (vampire) politics.
Single player, Visual novel, Adult themes, PEGI 16
What: A short and free lighthearted puzzle game about breaking into Hell to build a harem of demon girls.
Spooky credentials: You break into Hell to build a harem of demon girls.
Non-scary angle: If you defeat all of Hell’s challenges, you might get to make pancakes and coffee for your harem of demon girls.
Serving suggestion: Depending on how you fare with the puzzles, this might take 1-2 hours solo to complete. The final section took me a good few retries!
Free-to-play, Single player, Puzzle, Suggestive content
⬢ Steam ⬢
What: You, a child, fall into the world of monsters underneath our own. Fight for survival, forge unlikely friendships, and make permanent enemies on your quest to return to the human world.
Spooky credentials: Monsters, especially skeletons, are the main characters. There’s even a (shy) ghost!
Non-scary angle: It’s a comedy game with 8-bit graphics. Character design focuses on personality rather than creepiness. The closest thing you get to a jump scare is the Pokémon-style random encounters in a few zones, and even those are often a delight.
Serving suggestion: If you haven’t had Undertale spoiled for you yet, try to avoid it; the game is designed to be played multiple times. Be prepared to feel some things you didn’t think would be possible with a game that takes itself so un-seriously in places.
Single player, Retro graphics, Narrative, RPG, Parody, Action
What: Tactical RPG in the style of Fire Emblem where you play as a cast of demons and monsters in an anime-like setting with a focus on comedy and the ridiculous.
Spooky credentials: It’s about demons and monsters and is set in the Netherworld (read: underworld).
Non-scary angle: Following on with my theme of overcoming the spook by playing the spook, this is another game series where you play as the bad guys.
Serving suggestion: Make sure you have a good serving of spare time because these games are styled after the JRPG time sinks of old. Released in multiple instalments across a multitude of platforms across the 17 years since Disgaea 1, you can play it however you want, wherever you want.
Single player, Tactics, RPG, Comedy
You are/not alone: spooky games for 1-8 players
What: A digital board game in which a ghost (one player) sends visions (weird art cards) to psychic mediums (the other players) to get them to solve a murder. It’s like a co-op version of Dixit!
Spooky credentials: The game takes place in a séance, with a limited time in which the ghost can give out clues only through the use of strange visions. The players work together to interpret these clues to identify suspects, locations, and objects related to the crime.
Non-scary angle: The “crime” only exists as disjointed cards in different categories. You’re not hunting down a murderer on the loose, just working together with a friendly ghost!
Single player, Local multiplayer, Online multiplayer, Co-operative, Board game, Mystery, Mobile
What: Escape to a surprisingly popular island with Tom Nook’s latest bargain. Decorate, landscape and dress up to your heart’s content.
Spooky credentials: Seasonal content includes decor (pumpkin furniture!), new options for character customisation (green skin and/or eyes!), and a host of spooky costumes ready for the in-game event on October 31st.
Non-scary angle: Animal Crossing’s cute style is maintained throughout. It’s rated PEGI 3. As such, the Halloween content is all about simulating a Halloween celebration; it doesn’t engage with any of the themes.
Serving suggestion: Grab your slippers and a mug of something hot, and curl up with this digital candy floss.
Single player, Online play with friends, Local multiplayer, Seasonal event, Casual
What: Strategy/Dungeon Sim/Base Builder classic from 1997. Play as the monsters underneath your typical fantasy kingdom as you tunnel out your extensive base and plot to kill or convert the heroes of the land.
Spooky credentials: Tired of being spooked, scared and assaulted by the monsters of the season? Take your turn as the bad guys as the lord of your own Evil Dungeon.
Non-scary angle: Being on the side of the monsters takes a lot of the sting out of them being scary and the older graphics and slightly comedic tone defang any remnant of fear.
Serving suggestion: With a twirl of the moustache and a maniacal laugh.
Single player, Online multiplayer, Strategy, Simulation, Adult themes (Torture chamber, Casino), Mobile
What: Arcade-style multiplayer (competitive) dungeon crawler.
Spooky credentials: There are lots of weird monsters, with spooky scenery in the dungeon, and heavy monster theming all round.
Non-scary angle: 8-bit graphics without jump scares. If you’re playing with friends, they’re the ones controlling the monsters, so your mileage may vary.
Serving suggestion: This one is great with friends. Find one of the slippery monsters and wait for the inevitable game of Cat & Mouse you play when that’s the last remaining monster in a room!
Competitive multiplayer, Online multiplayer, Play with friends, Dungeon crawler
What: It’s only weeks until you finish at Spooky High, and you don’t have a date for the prom! Go through a variety of events, each with a couple of decisions, to improve your stats while building a relationship with your monster of choice.
Spooky credentials: You’re at a school for monsters, where non-graphic violence and villainy are part of everyday life!
Non-scary angle: It’s a silly game about over-the-top relationships, not about scaring you.
Serving suggestion: 1-4 players, fun alone or with friends! Don’t worry too much about the ending; it’s easy to replay.
Dating sim, LGBTQ+ friendly, Single player, Local multiplayer, Online multiplayer, Remote play together
Multiplayer: the more the freakier
What: Hidden-role, semi-co-op game that you play with your friends (and sometimes murder them)!
Spooky credentials: It’s all about deceiving your friends (and sometimes murdering them!) and working out who’s telling the truth. There’s the occasional jump scare when you get killed.
Non-scary angle: Cartoon style graphics mean jump-scares aren’t that bad; it’s all part of the game.
Serving suggestion: Play with as many friends as you possibly can! Hint: be OK with lying. Among Us is free on phones running Apple or Android, or £3.99 on Steam.
Online multiplayer, Play with friends, Free-to-play (Apple/Android), Hidden role
What: In a creepy hotel, answer questions correctly or prepare to be killed by your friends! (Who were forced to do it by the voice-over hotel owner.)
Spooky credentials: The party takes place in a creepy hotel, where you will often “die”. Lots of the theming is around spooky stuff: ghosts, killing people, the usual.
Non-scary angle: It’s a trivia quiz. There’s no gore, the deaths don’t mean a lot (you keep playing as a ghost), and it’s really all about the trivia and gentle mind-games.
Serving suggestion: Play with friends! The questions are meant to be hard so don’t worry about looking like an idiot (most people are guessing most of the time anyway!)
Play with friends, Local multiplayer, Online multiplayer, Casual
What: With this co-op chef game, discover the chaos that kicked off the couch-co-op genre now known as “Overcooked clone”!
Spooky credentials: Spooky seasonal levels with mysteriously moving parts, flashing lights, and dark themes.
Non-scary angle: The spooky levels are only for 1 “world” in each game (approx. 5 levels). Even then, the game is all about the chaos of running a kitchen with up to 3 of your (unlikely to be chefs) friends. You’ll be too busy yelling at your friends to be spooked.
Serving suggestion: Play with friends! Don’t take it too seriously, you’ll probably fail some levels several time before your group finds its rhythm. Best played with the same group of friends so you can build a rapport within the game – also starting a new group means you’ll likely need to start from level 1 again which can become tedious for anyone further into the game.
Co-op, Online multiplayer with friends (Overcooked 2 only), Local multiplayer, Seasonal event
A roguelike that’s also a rhythm game. I’m absolutely awful at it but the soundtrack is great fun, and you can also use your own music.
A lovely interpretation of the underworld theme: you get to know a collection of ghosts as you ferry them to the great beyond. We’re looking forward to playing it this Halloween after enjoying Khryseis‘ playthrough.
Basically a precursor to Monster Prom. You make decisions about how to spend your time before a catastrophe occurs. Monster Prom has a greater focus on the events happening as you play, but The Yawhg gives you a bit more about how you fare after everything’s done.
This spiritual predecessor to Among Us is the Video Game version of the real-life game Assassin, where you must blend into the passengers of a cruise ship while you covertly kill off your friends one-by-one.
It’s Saints Row 4, but in Hell. What’s not to like about that?
A classic point-and-click adventure from 1998 with a 2015 remake. Play as a skeleton travel agent in the land of the dead, and get caught up in an afterlife conspiracy!
A cute adventure/role-playing game that takes place on Halloween, Costume Quest puts you in the shoes of two trick-or-treating twins who must fight through a bunch of monsters using their Halloween costumes that let them transform into whatever they’re dressed as.