It’s that time of the year where you’re forbidden from playing anything that isn’t spooky. Don’t worry though, I’ve compiled a list of five such games to carry you through the rest of the month – and to make it a bit special, I went with indie games that you may or may not have heard of before. Some of these I have reviewed before, but some I got sent by publishers and haven’t covered at all, so thanks to the publishers for sending those over. The list is in no particular order, so let’s get started.
Critters for Sale
Critters for Sale is a special kind of weird. It’s a hybrid between a point and click game and a visual novel that has you traveling the world, talking with Michael Jackson in the year 2033, meeting the Noid Men, and saving the world from a doomsday device. It’s honestly a bit hard to put into words the story here – but I can’t deny I enjoyed my time with it. A puzzle game at its core – the game will have you solving simple stuff like 3×3 sliding puzzles, but then slap you with something really difficult that requires thinking outside of the box and outside of the game’s own rules.
In fact, it was one of those very puzzles that had me hard stuck for nearly an entire hour, but it was so satisfying to finally figure out what the solution was and unlock one of the game’s many different endings. It’s a shorter experience at around 3 hours, but a uniquely bizarre one well worth the time.
Critters for Sale retails for $10 USD and can be found on both Steam and itch.io.
I love roguelikes, so yeah, I gotta include one in this list. It’s called Dead Estate and it is a classic action roguelike – not the type where progress carries over between runs. You would think that this would make it really difficult, but yours truly managed to beat the game on his first run. Maybe I got lucky, or maybe I’m just a god gamer – whatever the case, it’s a really neat top-down shooter regardless. There are a bunch of upgrades to find, a bunch of cool weapons, some neat boss fights, and the enemy variety is solid for a game of its length.
A single run takes around an hour to clear and there is replayability in the different characters and such. For example, I may have cleared the game in my first run, but that only got me 10 out of the 84 total achievements, so there’s definitely some more stuff to find. A nice little spooky roguelike all around and worth a look for fans of the genre.
Dead Estate retails for $15 USD and will be available on both Steam and itch.io starting tomorrow.
Time for something a bit more casual. Pumpkin Jack is a colorful 3D platformer designed like the classic platformers of the PS2 and GameCube era. It does not try to do anything new, but it manages to be just as fun, if not more so, than some of the other recent platformers I have played. It’s got some solid platforming, a bunch of different collectibles to find, and even the classic three stage boss fights.
It is so straightforward in its design that it’s honestly refreshing and the pacing is managed well enough that it doesn’t grow old or overstay its welcome. Granted, the combat may be a bit dodgy, but the rest of the game is some really polished stuff and given that you quite literally play as a pumpkin head – it is the perfect platformer of choice for this Spooktober.
Vigil: The Longest Night
Another list of mine, another metroidvania souls-like. This time it’s Vigil: The Longest Night, a Salt & Sanctuary inspired action RPG that carries over pretty much everything you’re probably familiar with from souls-like games. There’s the difficult combat, the cool boss designs, the treasure to be found, and this overwhelming sense of dread just permeating the entire game world. There’s actually a lot more lore and story behind this one than what is usual for the genre, but it’s not bad – I kinda liked how creepy it all was.
But of course, the gameplay is what matters and that is good here too. Movement is snappy, hits have that right amount of weight behind them, and exploration is rewarded with all the cool loot and stuff you can find. I had a good time with it in spite of its difficulty and it is a pretty easy recommendation if you’re into metroidvania or souls-like games – double so if you like both.
Vigil: The Longest Night retails for $22 USD and is available on Steam and Switch.
I always got to have at least one visual novel on these lists and Iwaihime is literally the perfect addition. It comes from the same writer as Higurashi and Umineko and if you’re familiar with those – you’ll kinda know what to expect here. It’s a dark, twist-heavy story full of violence, gore, and a heavy dose of Japanese mythology. The theme of the story is “curses” and follows protagonist Suzumu Susuhara as a new transfer student who just so happens to cross paths with Toé Kurokami – a mysterious girl who doesn’t talk much and sits alone in class always clutching her Japanese doll.
Little does the protagonist know that this meeting leads him into a mystery spanning generations, shifting the story’s genre from violent gorefest to something more along the lines of Japanese folk horror. It goes all over the place and, while a bit rough at times, it is the perfect read for Spooktober – especially if you like the more… weird Japanese horror stories. The English release of the game was even improved upon compared to the Japanese original, making it the writer’s preferred version – something we don’t often see as visual novel fans.
And that’s the end of my list. Some nice genre variety – which I guess the indies really excel at anyways. Anyways, hope you enjoyed it.