If you're still young at heart but too old to trick or treat this Halloween, playing some spooky-themed video games while you hand out candy can be just as good.
Luckily, the ideal game for the Halloween season launched this summer on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 -- it had earlier been released on PC and Xbox One last fall -- in "Graveyard Keeper."
This morbidly charming, oddly funny simulation/role-playing game starts out with the main character seeming to be hit by oncoming traffic while receiving a text message from his love and being sent to some sort of medieval purgatory or alternate dimension. When he arrives, he is given the assignment of being the new graveyard keeper and preacher at a dilapidated church on the outskirts of a small village.
You are first met by a bouncing, talking skull named Gerry who suffers from amnesia and tries to fill you in on why you're there. During this time, you find out there may be a way back to your love, but it will be a long and arduous journey that involves collecting a variety of items and fulfilling certain tasks for a hodgepodge of secondary characters with their own needs and desires.
Among this cavalcade of calamity are six characters who are loosely based on six of the the Seven Deadly Sins, missing just Greed. These characters only show up on a certain day of the week and in a certain location. These are the main characters you will be interacting with to progress your story, though it isn't the most intuitive process. It took me some time and research on YouTube and the Wiki page before I really figured out the mechanics of everything, but once I did, I became enthralled in the story and trying to progress to the next part of the intertwined story. Through the process of completing your journey back to your love, you also manage to help bring the characters a sense of completeness they didn't know they were missing.
For people who have played games such as "Stardew Valley," "Animal Crossing" or "Harvest Moon," this will be a familiar experience but also one that is quite unique. It has similar features such as farming, chopping wood, fishing (which is ridiculously challenging at first), battling and cooking, but also features upgradable skills or "technologies" such as wood-working, smithing, writing, theology, alchemy and anatomy -- which, as a graveyard keeper/mortician, is an important bit of knowledge to have.
The humor in this game is a bit odd and sometimes on the nose, but it's the quirkiness that keeps you coming back. The company that developed the game, Lazy Bear Games, is Russian, which I didn't know until researching for this review, but I think may help you understand some of the jokes. For instance, one of the characters is a talking donkey that is also REALLY into Marxism. His job is to bring you bodies to bury on a cart he pulls behind him, but after a few times he refuses to bring you any more bodies unless he gets paid in carrots, claiming "You're a true capitalist now! But this world has no such reward for a hard working donkey like me!"
It also takes on some pretty morbid topics with humor, giving you the option to use "meat" from your corpses to make hamburgers to sell at a concessions stand during witch burnings or toss a corpse in the river to float down to the town if you run out of space in your graveyard. Keep in mind, the graphics have a retro, 8-bit look, so even though it deals with death, it's not an overly violent or gory game.
The game also has some new DLC coming Oct. 28, with its "Stranger Sins" expansion offering four to eight hours of extra gameplay, the option to build and run your own tavern, dozens of new quests, new conversations with previously silent characters, more history of the game world and other events. In addition, there's the already-available Breaking Dead expansion that lets you create zombies to do your bidding.
The game retails for $19.99, and is well worth the money.
OTHER HALLOWEEN-THEMED GAMES
"Luigi's Mansion 3"
System: Nintendo Switch -- Price: $59.99 -- Rating: E for Everybody
Set to release on Halloween, this ghost-hunting thriller featuring Nintendo's most famous little brother is family friendly yet with that spooky atmosphere that is great for the holiday. What's better, the game has multiplayer, meaning your friends can come over and enjoy it with you!
Systems: PC, PS4, XB1, Switch -- Price: $19.99 to $49.99 -- Rating: M for Mature
This action/role-playing game puts you in the shoes of Dr. Jonathan E. Reid, a physician who was made into a vampire, and whose thirst for blood compels him to kill the innocent people he is sworn to keep alive as a doctor.
This article is written by Josh Rouse from The Topeka Capital-Journal and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.