Image: Day of the Tentacle
Written by: Elijah Moon Blackwell
Halloween is here!
The month of October is 31 days of spooky goodness. It’s time to watch the fun movies like Hocus Pocus with the whole family. Of course, you’ve got the super horrific movies like Evil Dead, but not everyone likes to be terrified.
Horror video games have been around since the medium existed. Every time Halloween rolls around you’ll hear about the scariest games to ever release to the public. But what about the not-so-scary releases? Games for the people who love Halloween but hate being legitimately scared?
Here is a list of games for the type of player that wants to celebrate Halloween without the jump scares and horrifying imagery.
Plants vs. Zombies
You grow flowers that defend your house from zombies. Yeah, it’s amazing.
Currently the Game of the Year Edition of Plants vs. Zombies is $4.99 on Steam. It’s simple tower defense game. You place plants on a row in the garden that all act differently. The whole goal is to keep the zombies away from your house.
Each level presents a different type of scenario whether it’d be different types of zombies or changes to the map.
You can buy upgrades and eventually grow your own plants to sell for additional currency.
The bright graphics and goofy zombies makes Plants vs. Zombies a generally lighthearted game.
The game is fairly easy, which is great for casual players. More seasoned strategy veterans could become bored fairly quickly. Best solution is to just sit back, relax and do some gardening!
On the opposite end of the difficulty spectrum is a survival game. With an isometric camera, you control a custom character in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
The best detail of this game is the character. You can set up your experience based on your character’s background. What was their occupation pre-apocalypse? What are their strengths? Weaknesses? Phobias? The list continues.
If you start the game as an average Joe, who was like a plumber or something, you are treated to a pure survival game.
Every action you make results in a consequence unless you are prepared. Going to go to sleep? Make sure all your defenses are up to par. Going to go outside while it’s raining? Make sure to have a towel to dry yourself off. Want to cook some food indoors? Stay by the stove to ensure the place doesn’t burn down.
It’s a stressful and difficult game. The challenge overshadows any potential fear. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult? Regardless, it fits this list for not being a traditionally scary game.
One major drawback to Project Zomboid is it’s Early Access tag. If you are unaware, Steam allows developers to release a game unfinished for a cheaper price. The idea is that the developer can get some funding and players can provide constructive feedback. When it works, it works beautifully. Playing a game from day one till the final release is pretty amazing.
However, some games get stuck in Early Access. Project Zomboid was made available to purchase in 2013. That’s six years. I graduated high school, graduated college and got engaged while this game has been in development. The game has changed quite a bit in those six years but it is still not a “finished” product.
If you think you can survive a world infested with zombies, test your mettle in Project Zomboid.
Like the title suggests, you bowl. Instead of pins, you get zombies. Power-ups can appear on the alley giving you more chances to earn strikes.
There is a story mode with a very basic plot. Same screen mulitplayer is present which you rarely see on PC.
Not much to say about this one. It’s zombie themed bowling and it doesn’t take itself seriously. Lots of tongue in check humor. Currently $9.99 on Steam and has a demo.
Grab a friend and challenge them to a game of Zombie Bowl-O-Rama!
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines
If you like RPGs then this is a strong recommendation.
Bloodlines is not a newbie friendly game. It is a difficulty game to understand. In my first playthrough I realized my mistakes in leveling a little too late. I had to restart the game due to my futile situation. I did not spend my skill points wisely.
I also didn’t explore every inch of the map or pay attention to all the dialogue. This game requires your undivided attention.
Once I somewhat mastered the game’s mechanics, I was engaged with a deep and compelling RPG. The plot is amazing and each quest is unique. Every area has a new feel and overall the game constantly feels fresh.
Bloodlines is a game I don’t want to spoil. Check it out for yourself on Steam. It’s $19.99 and well worth it.
The biggest issue is the compatibility with Windows 10. Some players are experiencing issues when trying to launch the game. Unofficial patches do exist and seem to work for some.
Lastly, the horror element can be debated. Is it scary? Is it not? The atmosphere is very Gothic with dark colors and eerie music. However, there doesn’t seem to be many intentional jump scares. There is only one level that plays like a traditional horror game. It is the Oceanside Hotel. It’s over fairly quickly and there’s nothing else in the game like it. Consider this a warning, if you scare easily the Oceanside Hotel should be the only point in the game that you may struggle with.
If you can, check out this hidden gem. It’s worth your time!
House of the Dead
When I got my Nintendo Wii I played the same game over and over again. It was the House of the Dead series.
Basically you control a crosshair on the screen as you shoot at enemies that pop out at you.
I played the game in the arcades that used to exist near me. I poured so many quarters in the series. Fortunately the games did get physical releases on PC. Sega did have a PC division once upon a time. They ported console and arcade favorites to all kinds of computers.
Today they still release stuff on PC but not everything got the digital treatment. House of the Dead has no digital releases (not counting Typing of the Dead). So this means you got to track down the CD-ROM versions.
As far as I know only House of the Dead 1, 2 and 3 are available on PC. I happen to have them.
It’s a fun time killer. Move the mouse to aim and click to fire. It’s so responsive and beats using a semi-broken gun found in the arcades. The plot is cheesy and definitely not a focal point of the series. The game was meant to eat quarters, so yes, it’s hard.
Back on the Wii my brother and I spent hours upon hours trying to beat at least one of the games. It’s tough but still fun regardless.
Unfortunately the CD-ROM version has issues on Windows 10. I have to play the game on my Windows 7 machine. There may be a patch out there somewhere? But I haven’t found one.
Check it out if you got a Windows 7 machine lying around and can find the CD-ROMs for relatively cheap. It’s good cheesy zombie action!
If I went over every game I had in mind this article would become a novel. So here are some honorable mentions. Just a title and a few sentences describing each one. Click on the title to be taken to its Steam page.
Costume Quest: A fun game about trick or treating. Not spooky at all and very lighthearted.
Maniac Mansion: A point and click adventure that is considered a classic.
Day of the Tentacle: See above
Thief: A stealth game that is unintentionally spooky. Every level is dark and shadowy. Check it out if you like sneaking around in a medieval setting.
Secret World Legends: A free-to-play MMO that has levels based on horror tropes. For example, the first stage is reminiscent of H. P. Lovecraft’s Shadow over Innsmouth.
What do you play to celebrate Halloween? Let me know in the comments or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!