Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
Welcome to another edition of The Casual Gaymer, an occasional column from AIPT Gaming where I share my questions, comments, concerns, and other unsolicited thoughts about gaming and the games industry as a queer player.
It’s October! This year I thought I’d make a point to seek out some short (preferably free) spooky games to celebrate the season, so I went to good ole itch.io and dug around. Narrowing my search to tags like “queer” and “horror,” would you believe I found a lot of text adventures? I know, I’m shocked too.
Jokes aside, I played through three interactive fiction games from queer creators that I feel are worth spotlighting. None of these games are going to have you checking under your bed or putting on a nightlight before you go to sleep. Nevertheless, all three employ horror in different ways which I found charming. These games are not only free, but can also be played right in your browser, no download necessary! They’re short, sweet, and a quick bite of spookiness, just like sneaking a piece of candy from the candy bowl.
Rebel Kitsune – fake gamer girl comics
Rebel Kitsune follows the titular protagonist as she sets out to meet her friend at the local diner. It’s a simple setup which leads to jokes, small town charm, and an undercurrent of horror which emerges more explicitly depending on which route you follow. As the comments on its itch.io page will tell you, the game has a very Night in the Woods vibe; meeting a few locals, going out to eat with your friends, and potentially unearthing an eldritch terror engrained in the foundation of an otherwise quaint town.
Stray Creatures – ghoulishkid
Of the three featured here, this is probably the most outwardly scary game. Stray Creatures features redacted names, a run-down house, and an aura of discomfort from beginning to end. While this is an unfinished game, the unsettling feeling permeating the text was still a pleasure to immerse myself in and left me with a chill down my spine at the thought of what could happen next. It’s also a game that speaks to adolescent yearning and self-esteem in a way that rings very true, even if that nostalgia is barbed with thorns.
Your Gender Reveal Party Destroys the World – JD Scott
A riotous palette cleanser from Stray Creatures, Your Gender Reveal Party Destroys the World is exactly what it sounds like. It hyberbolizes heteronormative toxicity to levels of planetary destruction, be it by plague or by inferno. Wildfires and global pandemics? This game is hitting very close to home, and intentionally so. However, Scott’s writing is so funny, I was able to laugh through the tears in a way that was more cathartic than depressing about (lemme check my cue card of stock phrases) “these uncertain times.” Whether you’re thinking of summoning pink or blue hellfire for your own gender reveal ritual or just want a good laugh at the horrors of the gender binary, definitely give this game a playthrough or four. All the endings are worth it.
There you have it! If you’re looking for a spooky treat this Halloween or want to keep the festive spirit alive into November, check out these games and buy the developers’ other stuff on itch.io. Halloween may feel less festive this year, but there are plenty of spooky games both big and small to celebrate with as we hope that next year’s Halloween season allows more face-to-face hauntings? Maybe? Honestly, I’m not holding my breath.
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