Halloween is right around the corner, and scary season is in full swing. But not everyone is lionhearted enough to play the heavier horror hitters. To help, we've compiled some of the best mildly scary games out there so even scaredy cats can get into the Halloween spirit. So grab yourself a cozy HyperX headset, load up one of the games below, and enjoy horror-lite this Halloween.
Article updated with new entries by Henry Stenhouse for Halloween 2023.
Cult of the Lamb
Praising the dark lord has never been this cutesy! There's plenty of horror in sacrificing your followers to The One Who Waits, but not in like a...scary way, in fact it's good! It's good to give your life to His Unholy Darkness! Lots of cartoony violence and humor keep this cult a light and casual affair to ease you into the spirit of the season, but watch you don't get too suckered in by the excellent roguelike crusades against rival leaders and non-believers. It's only a game!
SOMA Safe Mode
SOMA is another underwater game that's very oppressive. It also features static monsters that can be pretty scary as they pursue you through the submerged research station. Luckily though, Frictional Games added a Safe Mode to SOMA, which removes the risk of death by monster from the game. That said, if they see you, they'll still make scary noises and be aggressive, so the game keeps its overall vibe.
Pathologic is largely about the vibes of a place being extremely off.It's an open-world RPG where you play as a doctor named Artemy who has been tasked with battling the plague that's consuming a town. You have to make lose-lose decisions here, as you simply can't save everyone. While the game can still be very tense and stressful, it's not going for the same direct scares that other horror games tend to.
Slay The Princess
Your one task in Slay the Princess is in the name of the game. She's locked in the basement of a cabin. You have the knife. But can you do it? Should you do it? This unique (and often comedic) psychological horror game plays a little like the Stanley Parable, with full voice acting by a narrator figure who reacts to, scolds, and sometimes argues with you depending on the choices you make. There are numerous paths to discover and multiple personal characteristics to awaken as you weigh that all important decision.
Halfway, To The Lamppost
Halfway, To The Lamppost is a Twine game that jumps between the past and the present. The "main" section deals with the past, where two little girls are planning to meet at the lamppost between their houses, but something is hunting one of them in the dark. The future deals with this little girl as an adult, and how her life has panned out since. Though very creepy, and somewhat sad, due to its more minimal, text-based nature, it isn't as heavy a lift in the scariness department.
The Supper is an adventure game focused on gathering the ingredients for a very special meal. It's a very dark and somewhat sad story, but its gameplay of collecting and combining items is relatively chill.
Remedy's classic thriller is a great choice for those who are a bit more faint of heart. You follow the titular Alan Wake, a thriller novelist, as he tries to uncover the truth about his wife's mysterious disappearance. It's eerie, and has plenty of twists, but overall, Alan Wake is a much chiller, if spooky experience.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
The Zelda series has never been shy of hiding some truly unsettling creatures and environments amid its otherwise cheerful fantasy worlds. Tears of the Kingdom goes above and beyond, however. Your first encounter with a cave-dwelling Horroblin or pulsating, sharp-toothed Like Like might set your heart aflutter, but that's just a warmup for your first dive into the Depths. This gargantuan underground map is bathed in a smothering darkness.
The only way to bring light to the dank underground domain is by tossing out brightbloom seeds or locating checkpoint-style lightseed roots. Even when you do light your surroundings, you'll find that the landscape of the Depths comprises towering, tangled roots, and large mushrooms. There's a level of eerieness to it that wouldn't feel out of place in a Dark Souls game. Worse still, the Depths doesn't just house regular monsters. Hiding amid the shadows are unique terrors just waiting to gobble up any wayward heroes.
Strange Horticulture will let you indulge a love of witchcraft and Halloween aesthetics without any of the immediate scares. A detective-style puzzle game, it sees you in charge of a plant shop in the town of Undermere. You'll have the chance to acquire and identify new plants to stock your shelves. But as the inhabitants of the town stop by to meet their needs, you'll also be drawn into a dark occult mystery of cults and covens.
Luigi's Mansion 3
Luigi has been hunting ghosts for a while now, but his most recent adventure on Switch is a great pick for Halloween. Exploring the haunted hotel is certainly unnerving at times, but the Mario aesthetics and goofs make it relatively easy to get through, and fun too!
Pikmin games are harmless, right? We thought so too, until Pikmin 4 sent us out on a night raid. Head out into the dark and you're liable to run into frenzied versions of the game's usually cute creatures. There's no true terror here, but the change in tone and challenge for these expeditions adds a flair of fear to the game's usually charming atmosphere.
These should get you started on creepy experiences to get into the mood for Halloween. But hey, if you find yourself looking for more scary season stuff, check out all the games that are throwing Halloween events. If you want to bring some of that horror style to your game space – no jump scares, we promise – then pick up some spooky keycaps for your mechanical keyboard!