Best Recommendations for Non-Scary Halloween Games This Spooky Season

With Spooky Season upon us, it is that wonderful time of year where we bust out the jack-o’-lanterns, the orange and black decor, the costumes, and the bubbling cauldrons. Personally, I love Halloween time and all the festivities! I just happen to really hate being scared. That includes any type of horror movies and games, especially ones about ghosts, the occult, or other evil entities. But I’m ALWAYS down for carving pumpkins and rocking out to “The Monster Mash,” especially with friends. The great thing about Spooky Season is, you don’t have to be spooked to have a great time! And that includes the games we play.

There are great horror games out there and a positively rabid community that gobbles them up year ‘round, but most especially during the month of October. For the rest of us that enjoy sleeping at night however, there are some wonderful games that give off all the same Halloween energy without the abject terror that comes with the standard horror fare. So let’s shine a lens on a few games that are great for celebrating Halloween without running the risk of having a heart attack or worse, having to sleep with the light on!

Luigi’s Mansion 3

He ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

Nintendo are pretty much the unspoken experts at crafting the perfect non-scary ghost game with the Luigi’s Mansion games. The first game, the titular Luigi’s Mansion is always a warm wave of nostalgia when I get the chance to revisit, but the latest iteration in the series has fine tuned the mechanics and made the antics of Luigi accessible to a whole new generation of gamers. 

In Luigi’s Mansion 3, Luigi wins a vacation with all his friends at a totally normal, not at all spooky hotel called The Last Resort (there seems to be a theme here of Luigi winning something that ends up making his life a living nightmare). Shockingly, nothing is quite as it seems, and Luigi is forced to don the Poltergust G-00 ghost vacuum and rescue his dear brother and the rest of his squad from a bunch of scheming specters. 

Like other games in this series, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a fun romp around a haunted (but not scary!) locale with different colored, shaped, and personified ghosts that make for some cartoonish and lighthearted fun. It’s made that much better with how comically terrified Luigi is, a very unlikely hero for this particular type of adventure. It’s the kind of game I get a kick out of and hits that same nostalgic chord that made me love the first game so much. Definitely worth picking up if you want to go the more traditional “spooky ghosts” route with your festivities.

Cult of the Lamb

Ah, the Lamb. So cute. So charismatic. So evil.

An adorable little lamb finds himself sacrificed to the evil, sadistic gods of “The Old Faith,” and awakens in the afterlife to find himself in the presence of a chained god, cast away from the rest. This god, known as The One Who Waits, propositions our little lamb; lead a cult in his name, build them up and wring them of their value, and through this effort the gods of the Old Faith can be struck down. And so begins the simultaneously adorable, whimsical, and terrifying management game Cult of the Lamb. 

This game quickly became one of my favorites that I played in 2022. The design, the music, the ADORABLE cultists, and the fact that it integrates with Twitch chat so streamers can include their community within the cult, is just a winning combination. The story itself is certainly dark, and some aspects of the game are downright creepy, and they are supposed to be. But it’s nothing that is too intense to scare anyone away, and if anything, the game provides quite a blatant and amusing commentary on modern day cult and zealous worship. You can also determine the type of cult leader you want to be; are you relatively kind and lenient, bestowing bountiful blessings on your followers? Or are you ruthless, murdering followers for the slightest infraction and feeding them poop for their daily meals? It’s up to you, and whatever route you take, you’re certain to be both charmed and slightly uncomfortable. 

Night in the Woods

Mae Borowski has a lot to worry about in Possum Springs.

This game will undoubtedly pop up on a lot of lists this season, and not just seasonal themed ones. Night in the Woods tells the story of Mae Borowski, a 20 year old who has just dropped out of college very suddenly and returned to her childhood home in the town of Possum Springs. She reconnects with her childhood friends and begins the daunting task of rebuilding her life and social circle in the wake of the traumatic circumstances that led to her return. Oh, and there’s a creepy ghost that’s kidnapping people in the town, and only Mae seems to be privy to the situation. 

Night in the Woods is one of those really special games that lingers long after you’ve played, and offers some replayability as well. Mae’s struggles are relatable and honest, and her friends are fun, quirky, and insightful. Your 20s are, arguably, a more turbulent time than your teens, as you navigate adulthood for the first time and grieve the end of your childhood and adolescence. Mae’s struggle with this aspect of her life is painful and relatable, and in the wake of the dark forces at work in Possum Springs, it actually feels even more relatable. It’s absolutely a game worth playing, both for the mystery that needs solving, and the lens into that early adulthood psyche that many of us know all too well. 

Hollow Knight

What “cute” and “deadly” look like, blended together.

With gothic undertones, captivating characters, and a bangin’ soundtrack, Hollow Knight is another obvious choice for this list. You take on the role of the Knight, who finds themselves in the dilapidated kingdom of Hallownest, which has been destroyed by something known only as “The Infection.” It’s up to the Knight to uncover the source of the infection and restore the kingdom to its former glory, but the forces that be certainly won’t make it easy. 

I like to describe this game as “Dark Souls if it were a platformer and also kind of cute.” And I don’t mean “cute” in any sort of negative way. The art stye is captivating, a more welcoming sight than is typical of the Lovecraftian type of horror of a Souls game. But my god, it is punishing. Though instead of my usual reaction of wanting to throw my controller across the room, I instead found myself more determined to beat my adversaries with each defeat. Perhaps it’s the difference in mechanics, but it feels more like an art form mastering the dodging and slashing, as opposed to mastering timing like you would in a Souls game. If you’re up for a challenge in a spooky, gothic, but also familiar kind of place, definitely give Hollow Knight a shot. 

What Remains of Edith Finch

what remains of edith finch
Hidden deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest is an abandoned home filled with the memories of a cursed family.

Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch is anything but spooky, at least in the traditional sense. Sure, you’re in a large, spooky house, but there are no ghosts around the corner, no malevolent forces hunting you down. The only ghosts you’ll find in the Finch house are the ones that live in the tragic recollections that the titular Edith Finch recalls as she pays tribute to her long gone family members. 

Edith Finch tells the story of several generations of the Finch family, of whom nearly all died under mysterious, surprising, and often avoidable circumstances. Edith, the last living Finch, returns to the old family home and explores each boarded up room, which is left as a time capsule to the family member that occupied it. The stories are haunting, tragic, and eloquently told, often through the voices of the family member themselves. As Edith explores the home, she reflects on the “family curse” that has wiped out her family, and whether it really is the work of outside forces, or perhaps something that, through the family’s intense superstitiousness, they willed into existence themselves. 

While the game isn’t scary by any means, it is absolutely heartbreaking and I would certainly recommend player discretion, as it often touches on subjects that may be distressing or triggering. But it’s a beautiful story that is worth being told, and it is very much worth the experience of being told. 

Is there a game that brings the chills without crossing over into full-blown scares that we missed?  Let us know in the comments!

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