From small-town haunted hay rides to massive mazes staffed by professional actors, seasonal haunted attractions are now opening for business in time for Halloween. Haunted houses are a popular game motif as well, with the first Resident Evil presenting a memorable adventure that takes place in a mansion filled with a variety of terrifying monsters.
The horror genre has expanded significantly in the years since, and scary sheds, terrifying trailer homes, and other abysmal abodes remain great atmospheric settings for all sorts of stories. We think the setting is ideal for creative horror-themed gameplay concepts.
For Game Career Guide's latest Game Design Challenge, our readers designed games that take place within haunted houses. Here are our top picks!
Morgane Masson, QA Tester, The Ghost's Family (see page 2)
Renan Yamao, Student at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Haunted Cards (see page 3)
Francisco Lucas Rezende, Student at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Ghost Party (see page 4)
Whitney Thorpe, Student at University of Montevallo, Untitled (see page 5)
Paul Hannon, Student at University of Montevallo, Nightmarish Sleepover (see page 6)
Morgane Masson, QA Tester, The Ghost's Family
The Ghost's Family: A 2D Horror typing god-like game
Player starts with a six to ten sized happy family, and a bunch of house's staff members.
As the local ghost, the player is in charge of the protection of the mansion. He can freely use the inhabitants in any way he wishes by adding ideas into their mind.
Tasks will be given to the player. If he completes them, the player will receive a new power taking the shape of a new word to use on its people.
Power of words: "Select someone; add words into its mind. See how it reacts. Enjoy."
As time goes, people will act on their own and evolve depending on words the player gave them.
Player chooses what they fear, what they enjoy. And can give them ideas (cheat, steal, take knife, play guitar, scream, what's in the living room, [insert name] is dead...) so they'll want to check this out, obey...or run away.
The number of words per person is limited, and the ghost can't use the same word one everyone simultaneously, unless he has it twice.
Player can freely add fear and mental illness to his lovely people, but he can also help them survive...
Knowledge is power, literally.
Complete objectives using your people to gain knowledges and more powers taking the shape of words.
The tasks can be as simple as "guide one of your people on the rooftop" or "make one threaten another one"
The word given as a reward will be stored with the others in a "bank of words".
"In the darkness, creatures envy your position. They'll do anything to take your place"
Your people will invite others to come home, from time to time. Or forget to close a window. The outsiders will enter your mansion one way or another. There is not much you can do about it.
But you can make sure your people will throw the uninvited outside.
Because if you don't, they may turn your family into cadaver, vampire or ghosts.
As you can't control non-human being, once they turned into something unusual, they are gone forever. It takes only one bite.
Thief, serial-killer, vampire, ghost, werewolf, weird friend, living objects, Death and innocents (include dogs, cats, random people, rats and pigeons), might come say hello anytime
The player has to find a way to make them leave quickly, before its people suffer from it.
You have very limited control over the monster breaking into your house (only humans, like thieves or killer may be partially controlled). But full control over your people. Use them wisely.
When you've managed to make your family invincible, or managed to kill so many creatures the other are scared away, you win.
When your whole family moves away from the house, dies or turns into something weird, you lose and get kicked out of the mansion. Some other ghost will do a better job.
Renan Yamao, Student at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Haunted Cards
Title: Haunted Cards
Genre: PvP Card game
Number of players: up to 4
Objective: Create the scariest haunted house in the neighborhood.
Main mechanic: Card draft
There's 3 different decks, one for rooms, one for monsters and one for events.
Each player has a starting room that can connect up to 3 rooms
The draft is divided in two phases:
1st phase - Room draft
All players draw 5 cards from the rooms deck, choose one card and then pass the others to the player to his left. Then the players choose another card from the 4 that they received. The process repeats until there's only one card left. The last card is discarded.
2nd phase - monster draft
Following the same logic as the room draft, the players will draw 5 cards, choose one and pass the others to the left until there's one card left. The last card is discarded as well.
After drafting monsters and rooms each player has 10 cards and can place up to 5 cards on the board.
The players can place rooms in any layout they wish to as long as the rooms have a connection point.
The monsters must be placed inside a room, if a room matches the type of the monster the text on the cards become active.
After all players setup their cards they discard the remaining five.
Each monster has a base scary value of one, if the monster match type with the room they have a scary value of two.
Every 2 turns one event is drawn from the events deck. The events may be something to remove a room, remove a monster, exchange rooms with another player, remove a room from another player, etc.
After 10 turns the points are counted and the player with the most points win, in case of a draw the player with most matching rooms and monsters win.
Francisco Lucas Rezende, Student at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Ghost Party
In Ghost Party, you and more 4 players control a group of messy ghosts that seek to gather guests and make the biggest supernatural party of the city! But what you do not know is that those guests are alive (at least for now muahaha).
The ghosts loved to make parties in the haunted house, until the ghostbusters ruin their privacy! Now the ghosts are looking for revenge and they want to haunt the whole neighborhood, messing up the streets and city places. The goal is to transform the greatest number of mortals in ghosts to make the biggest party of the universe at the end of the game! Help them in this multiplayer co-op or single-player game.
CO-OP CHALLENGES - Each ghost is responsible for one function! Choose between several ghosts and play with your friends!
FRANTIC GAME - Confusions and random events occur during the gameplay!
MAKE YOUR OWN GHOST PARTY - The ghosts do love parties! What about haunt some houses, and make killin' parties?
GHOSTBUSTERS - Your party is about to start, but some people were not invited.
INTERACTION WITH OBJECTS - The houses hide objects and items that can make your party even better. Explore it and have fun!
The game starts in the ghosts' haunted house, where the player has the first steps with the gameplay and where he starts understand why the ghosts were kicked out.
All the ghosts can fly for a period, get and pass through objects. However, all of them are different in at least one feature. Some of them can scare people easier than others, other can be better to decorate your party. The player starts with basic ghosts and according to the game progress, new collectible characters are unlocked.
It is not mandatory to kill human NPCs, but, that is the way to get more ghost-guests. They are necessary to make successful parties (5 stars or more).
During the gameplay, each player is responsible for a function and for goals. Examples:
"Get more 5 guests to your party!", "Find something to make the ghosts dancing", "Do not let the Ghostbusters ruin the party".
The Ghostbusters appear after the first human NPC identify a ghost. As the players get more stars, new Ghostbusters appear, making the game more challenger. Some humans are not afraid of ghosts and they can ruin your party.
The players lost when all the ghosts are exterminated by the Ghostbusters or when a party does not get 3 stars.
The game ends when all the players have passed for all the places in the map and give a party in the big mansion, being necessary to get more than 5 stars in this level.
Whitney Thorpe, Student at University of Montevallo, Untitled
I think a good game concept can be a clue finding escape game. You have the main character and their main goal is to find clues that lead them through obstacles in the haunted house with the ultimate objective being escaping the eerie house and gaining enough candy to give out to the trick-or-treaters.
Let's say it is a three story house and they start on the third floor. There are ghosts on the third floor and there are clues or pieces you need to pick up in order to defeat the ghost to move onto the second floor. Each room will have different artifacts that are useful for each level. Some artifacts are keys to unlocking doors, while others allow you to get traps to place down or useful hints to take down other creatures on different levels, just for a few examples.
The longer you stay alive the more candy you receive to hand out to the candy seeking children. After receiving everything you need from the third floor you can then move onto the second. You will have different things in your inventory you can use to help you defeat the monsters on the second floor while gaining new materials from the second floor as well. You die if the monsters touch you, therefore hide in a room if you see or hear one coming.
As mentioned prior your main goal is to escape the haunted house and give the children their candy. After defeating all of the monsters on the first floor and escape the house you win the game and hand out the candy to the obnoxious trick-or-treaters.
Paul Hannon, Student at University of Montevallo, Nightmarish Sleepover
The players are tourists looking for a spooktacular time at a haunted house for Halloween. They hear of one haunted house that is said to be like no other. Out in the middle of nowhere stands an abandoned house surrounded by a crop forest to the West, a small lake to the East, a cemetery to the North, and a thick forest from all sides. Nobody knows who lives there or how it gets decorated as a haunted mansion every Halloween. The tourists decided not just to go to the haunted house but to also spend the night there to uncover its mysteries. The tourist hear that for a "true" experience they must be in a costume the entire time.
The longer you stay the harder it gets. Will you make it out to tell the tale of your Nightmarish Sleepover?