The witching month is upon us as we turn to horror films, Halloween dress-up and spooktastically themed events around Tokyo for some scary titillating fun. For an introvert’s reprieve from the ghouls and ghosts, try a cozy night in with nothing but you and our selection of eerie, weird and downright scary indie horror games. Just don’t call us if you find yourself sleeping with the light on.
1. Doki Doki Literature Club
Do you like books, romance and cute anime girls all set in a visual novel-style game? Then Doki Doki Literature Club by Team Salvato (DDLC for short) is the game for you. Start off as a new member of the literature club as you get to know Monika, Sayori, Natsuki and Yuri, your fellow sweet classmates. At least, that’s as far as Act One will have you believe. Without venturing into spoiler territory, DDLC is certainly not what it seems. Players are first lured into a false sense of comfort through the cutesy characters. It’s not long before Act Two begins, and the story dramatically flips.
Players should note that the game contains references to suicide, self-harm, depression as well as graphic images of death.
DDLC is available for free on Steam.
2. The Simulacra Series
Losing your phone is nightmare-inducing enough, but what if there’s something more nefarious behind it all? Simulacra by Kaigan Games and Neon Doctrine expands on that notion with a series of horror games made in the style of found footage and a premise about missing people. The stories take place on a phone where players must unlock clues, interact with calls and messages plus complete mini games, all to get one step closer to the truth. Meanwhile, the phones themselves behave weirdly, to say the least, so be prepared for the many jump scares that will plague your gameplay.
There’s never been a better time for you to have your phone possessed with Simulacra 3 launching this month. This is the third installation of the series and is set to be the biggest yet involving mass disappearances in the town of Stonecreek.
Simulacra 3 is available on Steam.
3. Corpse Party
The name Corpse Party has been around for a while in the horror video game scene, and for good reason. It’s a series stemming from the 1990s that has withstood the test of time through game sequels, manga spin-offs and even live-action movies. The most recent remake of the original is the 2008 edition, developed by Team GrisGris and published by Xseed Games.
Kisaragi Academy student Mayu Suzumoto is a student on the cusp of transferring to a new school. Desperate to maintain a connection with her group of friends, they perform a charm they discover on the internet called “Sachiko Ever After” said to bind their friendship together for eternity. What results is the group being transported to a haunted dimension where they must now search for a means of escape, discover bodies and uncover the truth behind a series of chilling murders.
Corpse Party is available on Steam.
4. World of Horror
One-bit graphics have never been as terrifying as they are in World of Horror, a retro role-playing game developed by Panstasz and Ysbryd Games. The game is set in Shiokawa, Japan, where the gods of the land cause strange phenomena and terrifying events to occur. Players choose from five characters each with their own abilities and unique storylines. This allows them to navigate the disturbing and the shocking in an effort to unravel the truth from these nightmares. Unlike others in the horror genre, there are no jump scares. World of Horror relies solely on its unnerving story and environment to create a sense of dread.
Many of the creatures that players face are inspired by Japanese horror manga or urban legends, such as Kuchisake-onna. It’s easy to see how much classic Japanese horror has influenced the game, with developer Panstasz describing World of Horror as a love letter to the works of Junji Ito and Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
World of Horror is available on Steam.
5. Little Nightmares
Hunger takes on an entirely new meaning in Little Nightmares, a 2.5D puzzle-platforming adventure game by Tarsier Studios and published by Bandai Namco and Playdigious. Players take on the role of Six, a little girl escaping The Maw, a vessel inhabited by monsters. There are challenges to solve and creepy beings to evade as Six’s behavior gets more and more erratic. Eating is a persistent theme as players see Six chowing down on food, live animals and in some cases, people.
The graphics on Little Nightmares have been touted as some of the most beautiful and atmospheric you’ll see. The journey that Six goes on has seen many critics draw parallels between the game and Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away. There are also Japanese elements scattered throughout, such as the noh mask-wearing ‘Lady.’
Little Nightmares is available on Steam.
6. Tokyo Dark
Follow along a mystery-horror story with Detective Ayami Ito as she searches for her partner, Detective Kazuki Tanaka, who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Developed by Cherrymochi and published by Square Enix Collective, this point-and-click adventure game spirals rapidly into a dark narrative, allowing the player’s choices to directly affect Ayami’s state of mind, creating an added element of depth. The result provides different endings depending on the decisions made.
Tokyo Dark is available on Steam for Windows, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.
Bonus: Darkweb Streamer
There’s only a one-letter difference between “stream” and “scream,” and Darkweb Streamer (stylized as darkwebSTREAMER) will show you how close it’ll have you to doing the latter with its role-playing streaming simulation game. The road to becoming the internet’s top streamer is rife with challenges, but never more so when you’re playing with things of the occult.
Surf the ominous web, perform strange rituals and invite all manner of ghosts, demons and even yokai into your space as content to appease your viewers. The game’s aesthetic is heavily inspired by old-school Japanese manga, including references to Japanese folklore. Darkweb Streamer is slated to launch in 2023, so earmark this for the next spooky season and follow its Twitter for updates.