Halloween is the ultimate kid holiday. Not only is it a day where dressing up as a favorite character is strongly encouraged, but neighbors are also willing to give away free candy for the mere action of knocking on the door. When done right, Halloween can be a fantastical holiday filled with spooky activities, decorations, and stories.
Like movies, video games can be a great way to celebrate Halloween with holiday-themed stories. Many horror video games are geared toward older audiences and include graphic and mature content not suited for kids. But there are plenty of kid-friendly options available. Here are five games kids can play while riding out the trick-or-treat high.
1. Whispering Willows
PC, PS4, Wii, iOS, Android
Whispering Willows has creepy elements, but it’s not a wholly scary experience. It stars a young girl searching for her father in an old haunted mansion. With the unique ability to project her spirit self out of her body, she’s able to interact with ghosts, hearing their stories and helping them settle their unfinished business.
The game’s hand-drawn cartoon art style gives it a lot of personality. While Whispering Willows has creepy moments, the majority of it is more of an intriguing, magical experience than it is horrific. It does require a high level of reading comprehension, however, so this is likely best suited for slightly older players.
2. Goat Z
Goat Simulator became popular with YouTubers and gamers alike thanks to its quirky and unpredictable gameplay. The game is essentially a sandbox for playing with the physics of in-game objects. Goat Simulator features a playable goat character capable of attaching itself to people and objects, blowing up buildings, and even ruling over a cabal of goat minions.
It’s extraordinarily goofy and fun. That’s why Goat Z is such an easy recommend for a Halloween game. Goat Z takes the same basic ideas of Goat Simulator and places them in an apocalyptic context, where the goat can infect humans, hunt zombies, and run around a world in the midst of ruin. It’s goofy, it’s fun, and it’s an experience heightened by having others around to enjoy it.
*Note: Goat Z is also available on PC, but only as DLC requiring the base Goat Simulator game.
3. Five Nights at Freddy’s
PC, iOS, Android
Five Nights at Freddy’s has become a veritable phenomenon, attracting millions of views on YouTube and becoming a staple in kid pop culture. It’s essentially a game built on the anticipation and dread of jump scares.
In Five Nights at Freddy’s, players act as a night security guard at an off-brand Chuck E. Cheese’s establishment with ultra-creepy animatronic entertainers. During the night, these animatronics are allowed to roam the restaurant of their own free will, surveying the halls and rooms of the building. To protect themselves from being caught by one of these creepy animatronics, the security guards have to monitor videos of the place, keeping tabs on where the animatronics move throughout the building. Should one fail to stop the creatures from advancing, they’ll be greeted by a loud, shocking jump scare and a game over screen.
Freddy’s is unique. It’s stressful, maintaining a superb amount of creepy atmosphere as players watch characters stare blankly at the camera in various rooms. It’s scary, especially when one knows what greets them upon their demise. But it isn’t gory. It isn’t graphic, and it isn’t designed to be a horrifying experience that will haunt a kid’s dreams. It’s definitely not for young children, but groups of older kids might enjoy working together to keep the animatronics at bay.
4. Rogue Legacy
PC, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One
Rogue Legacy isn’t a horror game, but it does pit players against ghosts, skeletons, haunted items, and all other creatures contained within a massive castle. Rogue Legacy’s most interesting hook is the way it treats player characters. Once a character is dead, they’re forever dead and have to be replaced with a new character on the next try.
The castle changes every time the player starts a new run. And each character has a different condition that defines what their gameplay will be like. Some characters might be smaller or larger than others. Some lack 3D vision. Others see the world in black, grey, and sepia tones. Each condition is different and offers different rewards and bonuses. Plus, it’s fun to see exactly how the game will change to accommodate a character with, for example, IBS.
5. Plants vs. Zombies
PC, iOS, Android, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS
Several games have been released within the Plants vs. Zombies franchise, but the original remains one of the best. In Plants vs. Zombies, players defend their house from hordes of the shambling (and cute-ish) undead using plants with varying qualities. Some shoot missiles, some explode, and some freeze or slow down a zombie’s movement.
It starts out easy enough, but Plants vs. Zombies eventually becomes a challenging and satisfying puzzle game.
Want more Halloween games? Check out the list we pulled together last year!