Celebrate Halloween with these spooky platform games
20th October 2021
'Tis the season to get spoopy.
That's right, folks - Halloween's a-coming. Not only does this mean trick-or-treating, costumes, and horror movie nights - it also means it's time to find something creeptastic to play!
Today, we're going to round up five great spooky-themed platformers old and new, and help you decide what to load up on your console of dooooom. So buckle up as we plunge into the haunted article! WoooOOOooo!*
*Note: this article may or may not actually be haunted. Levelhive accepts no responsibility for any hauntings that do or do not occur.
I mean, you have to start here, don't you? It's the O.G. of spooky platform game franchises.
In any case, there's plenty of entries to choose from. Konami's gothic Belmont-a-thon has been a thing since 1986, which means the franchise is as old as I am. I've always been partial to the NES original, even though I am absolutely terrible at it, but there have been plenty of other titles in the series over the years.
After all, what better way to celebrate All Hallow's Eve than by whipping a disembodied Medusa Head and then eating some meat that fell out of a wall?
Fun fact - at one point, there was supposed to be a Castlevania game for the Sega Dreamcast. However, it got scrapped due to the inexperience of Konami's American development team (not to mention the console's untimely death). Up until very recently it was thought that screenshots were all that remained of it today - until a playable build surfaced earlier this year.
You can't really go wrong with Limbo - it's a great game. Released in 2010, it's since gone down in history books as one of the best-selling indie games of the time, and for good reason.
Its iconic and monochromatic art style created a foreboding atmosphere that many other developers tried to copy, and the adventure itelf is full of memorable moments and set-pieces ('the spider bit', for example, tends to stick in the mind).
For those with an interest in game design, there's a lot to appreciate in this game, with cunning level design and smart puzzles aplenty. It was made with a strong sense of artistry and creative vision, and it really shows in the final product.
The developers Playdead went on to create the spiritual successor Inside, which was similarly praised by critics and punters alike.
And as Halloween fare in 2021, Limbo remains a solid, sombre, puzzle-y spook-fest that hits all the right notes.
Eversion is one of those games where I sort of can't tell you what's great about it without spoiling it. It's a happy, sunny little platformer... right? Right?
Originally released as a freeware title (which is still around) and then later tarted up for a proper Steam release, Eversion is one of those sorts of titles that you only play because your friend tells you "you should really check this out". Later, you inevitably end up making the same recommendation to somebody else.
The remaster's Steam description dances merrily around the premise without ever actually giving it away:
- "Surprising plot twists"
- "Extra entertainment value when played alone at night"
- "An unforgettable experience"
Okay, so this is probably a bit out of left field, but I actually love Monster Party.
It's an old NES title from 1989, and it's great. It's legitimately bonkers.
Perhaps I can best illustrate that by recounting the game's plot, which involves a baseball-loving child named Mark being accosted one night by a griffin monster thing called Bert - who promptly abducts him away to a mysterious realm called "Dark World", which from this point it is Mark's duty to defend from all comers with his baseball bat. Oh yeah, and Bert basically fuses with Mark so that they are two characters in one. Or something?
Originally developed and released in Japan, the game initially featured a plethora of pop culture references nodding at everything from Little Shop of Horrors to Aliens - most of which got swiftly removed (presumably for copyright reasons) in favour of even more bizarre and nonsensical replacements for the North American release.
This led to the English version of the game featuring some rather unconventional boss encounters including a homicidal tempura shrimp, a caterpillar named Rolls Royce, and a dead monster who doesn't do anything apart from politely confirm his own deceased uselessness with the iconic dialogue box, "SORRY, I'M DEAD."
If you're looking for something different to play this year for Halloween, well... Monster Party is certainly that.
A writer for Prima Games described this as "the most Halloween-ass video game I’ve ever seen", and I mean... yeah, just look at it.
Released in 2020, Pumpkin Jack (Steam link) is an indie 3D platformer made by a French solo developer who wanted to create a Jak and Daxter-esque adventure with a gothic twist inspired by MediEvil, another of his favourite games.
All things considered, Pumpkin Jack is a pretty solid platformer, and the spooky theme makes it a no-brainer for celebrating Halloween. Plus, it's a nice cozy length (probably 5 to 8 hours' worth of play) - so you won't still be trying to beat it at Christmas!
Whatever you decide to play this Halloween, we hope you have a frightfully good time. Whether you're playing a Nintendo s-Witch, a Hex-box One or a Boney Preystation (oof, sorry), there's bound to be something suitably spoopy you can play!
Look out! There's a ghost!