5 Spooky Video Games That Are Also Family Friendly

Some fun scares and thrills that are appropriate for all ages.

by | Oct 21, 2019

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ctober is the month for witches and warlocks, ghosts and goblins, monsters and magic, and all manner of the supernatural and spooky. There are plenty of lists about which video games are the best, and also lots of lists about which video games are the most terrifying or scare-inducing, but those titles tend to lean more towards adults or older audiences. There aren’t too many lists about spooky video games that would be appropriate for the whole family to sit down and play, so here’s a list of 5 haunting titles that are still pretty kid-friendly.

Twins Wren and Reynold are going out for Halloween for some classic trick or treating. However, one of the two gets kidnapped by a monster who’s looking to capture as much candy as possible (and one of the twins just so happened to dress up as a big candy corn). It’s up to the other twin to rescue their sibling so that they don’t get grounded!

Created by the team at Double Fine Productions (known for creating Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, and Broken Age), this RPG is a short but fun (and funny) ride to the finish, featuring gameplay and turn-based combat with a neat twist – it’s influenced in part by the costumes you wear. The studio’s founder, Tim Schafer (who helped write the game), is known for creating numerous adventure game classics like Day of the Tentacle or Grim Fandango, and his penchant for wit and humor absolutely shows in this title – I was totally caught off-guard at points, in a good way. Costume Quest truly revels in the spirit of Halloween, and is quite a treat.

The Onion Kingdom has been brought to the brink of complete destruction by a hideous beast called the Ever Peckish, and cannot be beaten by the chef(s) who feeds it. With the Onion King and Kevin the dog, the chef(s) enter a time portal to escape to the past (the year 1993, specifically) in order to train themselves to save the future from the monster that is to come.

Overcooked is a 1-4 player game where you must work together (or optionally, by yourself) to chop, fry, and cook to fulfill the many food orders that you are given. It can get very hectic in the kitchen but once things are clicking and players are succeeding, it’s simple but incredibly satisfying. As you continue to progress with other players, you’re bettering your teamwork for more and more difficult challenges, and the mayhem that ensues makes for a great time. This is a fantastic party game!

Where is the “Spook” factor, you ask? There’s a series of levels later on that involves lots of darkness and lightning, fit for a frightful night. The sequel, Overcooked 2, also features some supernatural levels and DLC, too!

The zombie apocalypse has begun, and zombies are now trying to get in your house by invading your lawn. It’s up to you to keep them at bay with the plants you grow!

The cartoonish, unique theme allows for some very distinctive, memorable tower defense gameplay, where you use a variety of plants to fight off the zombies encroaching upon your property in a continual, yet effective loop. Plants vs. Zombies has a surprisingly straightforward but quirky concept that helped put PopCap Games on the map and established an incredible foundation for a huge franchise that continues to endure to this day. 

Of course, the game has had multiple sequels and spin-offs in the years since that would be great to play as well, but this is the one that started it all.

In The Curse of Blackmoor Manor, Nancy is called on by her neighbor to go to England (uh, I mean, that’s totally cool, I do that all the time for my neighbor) to investigate Linda Penvellyn – the neighbor’s daughter – who has recently gotten married, but whose health has gone downhill since. The moment Nancy reaches the entrance of the manor, there’s already something strange afoot. The game’s manor is filled with a fun mix of interesting puzzles and frights. The Curse of Blackmoor Manor is considered a fan favorite, and why this game was chosen in particular.

The Nancy Drew series of video games has been around since the late 90s, and have always been first-person point-and-click adventures where you unravel a mystery. Each entry introduces a new case for Nancy to solve, and she often visits various countries and locales in order to investigate, like Germany, Ireland, or Egypt. The Curse of Blackmoor Manor came out in 2004, so if you maybe prefer a more recent title, Ghost of Thornton Hall or Shadow Over the Water’s Edge are pretty well-received. If you’re perhaps interested in an even older title in the series, Message in a Haunted Mansion is also recommended. In a series with over 30 titles, you can’t really go wrong, but those selections in particular are fitting for a spooky time.

Long ago, the legendary knight Johannes entered the mysterious Castle Hamson and never returned. Since then, his descendants have continued to enter the cursed structure and brave its depths, with only two options: reach the end, or perish in the attempt. As the player journeys through the castle, they’ll encounter a bevy of supernatural beasts and beings in their way.

Rogue Legacy is an action-platformer with roguelike characteristics – that is to say, multiple elements of the game are randomly generated. The castle itself will constantly shift and change upon each visit. The truly unique aspect of this title is the life system – if you lose a life, that’s it for the character you’re playing. You’ll play the next heir in Johanne’s line and re-enter the castle again and again until you finally get to the finish line – however, you get a randomly generated selection of heirs to choose from, each with their own personal characteristics and classes. Your next character could be near-sighted, color blind, or some other trait that actually affects how you play. Add in a straightforward, though understated plotline and you’ve got a fantastic combination of a game reminiscent of the old-school Castlevania titles (which would also be a good recommendation).

And there you have it! I hope that these five games can give everyone and anyone in the family a fun night full of scares and excitement.

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