Spooktober is upon us and with it comes a month of playing spooky video games. Here are five such games that I recommend playing to get into that Spooktober spirit. As usual, this list is in no particular order, so let’s get started.
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is perhaps one of the most deceptively cute games I’ve ever played. On the surface, it’s a game about two girls trying to find their way home, but underneath that is a horror story full of mystery, darkness, and a whole lot of evil spirits out to kill you.
You take up the role of Yui and Haru, two best friends who ventured out to see the summer fireworks show one day. On their way home, something attacks them from the shadows, leaving the two separated and lost in the dark. You then take turns swapping between the two and slowly try to locate the other in a town that has been shrouded in darkness and spirits. There are deserted buildings to be explored, puzzles to be solved, and ghosts to hide from along the way.
Midnight Shadows is also a game that knows its atmosphere, making heavy use of creepy ambient noise in place of an actual soundtrack. This emphasizes the game’s sound design, with certain ghosts being given special audio cues and the player’s heartbeat being used as a way to tell if a spirit is nearby.
The gameplay itself is rather simplistic, with nothing outside of basic movement and the ability to toss certain objects. However, it manages to craft an in-depth horror experience in spite of this, with an atmosphere full of dread and even the occasional jump scare or two. It’s definitely worth the play if you’re into Japanese-style horror.
And now we go from Japanese horror to Russian horror. Although the title makes it seem like a sequel, Pathologic 2 is actually a remake of the cult classic Pathologic. It’s a first-person story-based survival game that also makes heavy use of atmosphere. In fact, for those that don’t know Russian horror, it pretty much thrives on being endlessly bleak and depressing.
The game takes place in a secluded rural town on the brink of epidemic. This epidemic isn’t just a disease though, it’s a plague that goes far beyond the simple constructs of a disease. You play as a doctor tasked with battling this plague and are given 12 in-game days to do so. Once that time runs out, it’s game over, whether or not you managed to make a difference is irrelevant. The game makes it very clear that you will not be able to save everyone, so every minute counts.
It is also not a game for the faint of heart. It can be brutally difficult at times and many will likely be scared away by the survival mechanics. You have to constantly keep your hunger, thirst, exhaustion, and even immunity in check in order to keep going. Dying not only results in being put back to the last save, but also takes a chunk of your maximum HP, hunger, or thirst away from you, making it even harder to stay alive. And there’s no cheating the system either, save-loading does not negate these penalties. It was for this reason why many critics panned the game on its release, it’s just that hard.
However, if you’re able to stick through it, you’ll be met with a story that, while weird and bleak, is very well-written for a horror game and definitely worth the time.
The Witch’s House MV
So, a couple months ago, the publisher for this game, DANGEN Entertainment, reached out and offered me a copy to try it out. I was a bit skeptical at first, given that this is an RPGMaker game and I know many avoid them for being, well, RPGMaker games. However, after playing through it, I have to say that The Witch’s House MV is actually one of the better ones. It’s a short, yet fun little horror game that takes place in a mysterious mansion, one full of mystery, monsters, and traps at every corner.
You play as a young girl by the name Viola, who has become trapped in this mansion and must solve its mystery in order to escape. For the most part, the gameplay consists of puzzle-solving. These come in the form of riddles, memory games, and even more intricate ones like having to mirror a room and all of its contents symmetrically. However, throughout all of this, there are also a bunch of traps and monsters to avoid. Some of these are predictable, but the majority are not, so you’ll want to be cautious when exploring lest you run into sudden death. It may be an RPGMaker game, but it definitely knows its jump scares.
And of course, in the process of doing so, you will slowly unravel the mystery surrounding the mansion, or rather, the Witch’s House. The story isn’t anything too spectacular, but it’s not bad for a game of this length (around 2 hours). I’d put it about on par with Corpse Party in that regard.
Little Nightmares is a short, yet excellently-crafted horror game centered around confronting your childhood fears. You play as a hungry little child by the name Six, who finds herself trapped aboard the Maw, a mysterious vessel full of corrupted souls seeking out their next meal. Your goal is to slowly work through this vessel and try to find a way out, all while avoiding being that next meal.
The gameplay, again, relies heavily on puzzle-solving, oftentimes while sneaking around much larger enemies. Some areas encourage slow, stealthy approaches, whereas others require you to run and platform at the same time while being chased around. The game offers up quite a bit of variety in this regard and it makes for some pretty fun puzzle-solving.
Of course, all of this takes place in what I can only describe as beautifully-crafted environments. In fact, I’m sure that that is where the majority of their budget went. Not to say that the other aspects of the game are bad, but that it just looks so good. In fact, I actually felt kinda bad flying through some areas of the game in just seconds when it probably took weeks to craft said areas. The game only takes a few hours to beat, but is definitely a fun (and visually-appealing) experience for those few hours, enough so to earn it a spot on my list.
The House in Fata Morgana
And of course, it wouldn’t be a video of mine without some sort of visual novel included. The House in Fata Morgana is the perfect game to round out this list. It is a gothic suspense visual novel that takes place over nearly an entire millennium. Now, you may be wondering what exactly makes this a Spooktober-worthy game. Well, if the art style wasn’t already enough of an indication, the story definitely is.
This is a visual novel that deals heavily with topics like insanity, tragedy, and human nature. Given that, it places a lot of emphasis on its atmosphere, one of constant dread and unease. In fact, when I reviewed the game, I described it as Danganronpa, but without the element of hope — it’s pretty much just constant despair. This works in the game’s favor though, as it allows unfiltered exploration of the depths of the human heart, a central topic to the storyline. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that there’s a good reason why the game has a disclaimer when you open it despite being released as an “all-ages” title.
What makes the experience even better though is the god-tier soundtrack to go along with it. Coming from someone that really loves video game soundtracks, I can say without hesitation that The House in Fata Morgana easily has one of the best. It really matches the game’s atmosphere and makes it a perfect fit for Spooktober.
And that’ll wrap it up for this list. Again, these are personal recommendations, so I’m sure that I missed some of your favorite Spooktober games. In fact, leave a comment down below if you have some recommendations of your own, I’m always up for trying out more spooky games. Thanks for watching and do subscribe if you haven’t already, it really helps me out.