October has come again, which means it’s time for gamers to curl up on the couch and play some horror games. With that said, many gaming enthusiasts would prefer to steer clear of more intense horror series like Resident Evil and, instead, celebrate the days leading up to Halloween by playing games that “spook” rather than scare. Luckily, these more casual horror fans can find the laid-back, low-adrenaline experience they seek on the Nintendo Switch.
The Nintendo Switch has gotten a lot of flack over the years over its developers’ commitment to keeping titles that could jeopardize their carefully cultivated “family-friendly” reputation out of the console’s library. However, the system is home to many mild interactive horror experiences that will satisfy the appetites of gamers looking for a relaxing romp into the alluring realm of the macabre. Here are our picks of the top ten “spooky” games on the Nintendo Switch.
Top 10 “Spooky” Nintendo Switch Horror Games
The Nintendo Switch’s library is much broader than the publisher’s previous consoles, and one of the many genres that have benefited from Nintendo’s newfound devotion to content density is “soft horror.” Not only has Nintendo added subtle horror elements to many of their newer titles, but the Switch’s robust support for indie gaming has allowed creepy hidden gems to sneak onto the console. With the preamble out of the way, here are ten spooky games that Nintendo fans can sit down and enjoy during autumn’s twilight weeks.
10. Don’t Starve
Don’t Starve has wandered its way onto almost every console that has emerged in the year after its 2013 release, and it’s not hard to see why. An action-adventure game, Don’t Starve challenges players to survive on a lonely island by gathering resources before the sun sets and nocturnal horrors come out to play. Don’t Starve’s cartoonish, Tim Burton-influenced art style is a feast for the eyes, amplifying the unnerving aspects of its gothic, Lovecraftian setting without being too frightening.
9. Graveyard Keeper
A farming simulator that draws heavy influence from Harvest Moon, Graveyard Keeper allows players to build and manage a medieval-era cemetery. While Graveyard Keeper’s visuals are colorful and cheerful, the game has a morbid sense of humor that comes alive in the management choices it allows the players to make. Depending on how you play the game, your graveyard could be a place of peace and reverence or a poorly maintained front for an organ trafficking ring.
8. Cozy Grove
Another life-simulator game with a charming visual aesthetic and soft horror elements, Cozy Grove puts players in the boots of a young Spirit Scout, a spirit medium charged with bringing peace to the restless ursine spirits that inhabit the titular haunted island. As you gather the materials needed to craft new items and expand your camp, you’ll encounter a diverse cast of ghostly bears, each with a unique story that you can slowly unearth as you befriend them and help them come to terms with the lingering doubts and pains that have kept them from passing on.
7. Lost in Random
Set in a gothic, fairy-tale-inspired city where a roll of cursed dice decides the fate of every citizen, Lost in Random tells the story of Even, a young girl who sets out on a dangerous journey to defy her “destiny” and rescue her sister Odd. With a unique gameplay system combining tactical combat with randomized deck-building elements and a beautiful art style that manages to be whimsical and unsettling, Lost in Random is a fantastic adventure that tackles some surprisingly poignant themes.
6. Death’s Door
Death’s Door is a Souls-like action-adventure game where players assume the role of a crow in a magical world where the ebony-feathered birds guide the souls of the recently deceased through the enigmatic Doors of Death. Armed with various weapons and magic spells, players must hack and slash their way through a beautiful realm ruled by tyrannical giants who have rejected death and, by extension, life. Anyone who has played Dark Souls and the many games that were inspired by it will feel right at home as they play through this weird and wonderful avian adventure.
5. Yomawari: The Long Night Collection
Yomawari: Night Alone and its sequel, Yomawari: Midnight Shadows, are the personification of the subtle chill that runs up one’s spine when they’re forced to make a long trek home on a moonless night. Both games cast players as young girls who must journey into the spirit-infested streets of their hometown in the depths of night to search for a missing loved one. The cute, chibi-esque design of the protagonists starkly contrasts the horrific forms of the mythology-influenced ghosts wandering through the darkness in search of their next victim.
4. Little Misfortune
Little Misfortune is an exercise in the art of shock humor. Putting players in the shoes of a naive little girl named Misfortune Ramirez Hernandez, players follow Misfortune as she plays a “game” with a mysterious and sinister being known as Mrs. Voice. Little Misfortune can be completed in less than a few hours, but its story is packed with shocking twists that fly in the face of its cheerful tone and charming aesthetics. Be warned: Little Misfortune tackles some heavy topics, including abuse and self-harm, so think carefully before you play it if those topics hit close to home.
Omori is a role-playing game that starts with the titular Omori waking up in a white void before embarking on a journey with their childhood friends through a colorful and cozy realm. However, things gradually become more sinister when it’s revealed that Omori is the alternate persona of Sonny, a troubled teenager who has shut himself off from the world. Much like Little Misfortune, Omori is a game that explores complex and challenging themes like mental illness and trauma. Still, its addictive turn-based battle system and charming characters help balance these darker elements.
2. Cult of the Lamb
Cult of the Lamb combines the cutesy art style and laid-back life-simulator gameplay of Animal Crossing with the roguelike structure and occult undertones of The Binding of Isaac, and it’s glorious. Assuming the role of a sacrificial lamb brought back from the dead by a demonic force, players build a cult honoring their new patron by venturing into the forest’s darkness to gather new followers while assigning tasks to their underlings to maintain their growing religious following.
1. Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods may not be as colorful or creepy as other games on this list, but it is the perfect game for October. Night in the Woods follows Mae Borowski, a college dropout who returns to her hometown of Possum Springs only to discover that the town has changed in ways she cannot reconcile and that teenagers have been vanishing under mysterious circumstances. Night in the Woods is a tale of small-town woes, teenage angst, and existential dread that breaths the spirit of Halloween, and it’s the best spooky game on the Nintendo Switch right now.
- This article was updated on October 5th, 2023