Step into the start of Halloween with these deceptively dark PC games

This week finds us right in the middle of the month of Halloween, which means it’s time to start playing games with some pizzazz. While nothing here is particularly horror-themed, there are plenty of unsettling themes woven into each title.

We find ourselves in the midst of intrigue and betrayal in our own royal court, thrown into the center of a mystery in the woods as we try to keep our B&B open, escape a busy homeland while searching for our comrades, wine and romantic dinner interests by day and fight with their weapon forms while traversing dungeons made of dark feelings by night, and assume the bartender while surviving in a cyberpunk hellscape.

There are tons of different games and genres to choose from this week, something here for any PC gamer to try for the weekend. And no matter which one you choose, these choices will challenge your opinions and make you see that the world and the people in it are never what they seem.

Crusader Kings III

A king in a crown dressed in gold with a red cape

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

With the launch of the recent Friends & Foes DLC, it’s the perfect time to revisit the always excellent Crusader Kings III. The third installment in this real-time strategy series takes the features of the previous title and completely revamps and improves them to create an even more complex and in-depth experience.

Unlike most games in the genre, Crusader Kings III doesn’t focus primarily on the domestic and global impact of your actions, but rather the possible consequences of the decisions you make. Instead, the focus is on day-to-day life and the tribulations of being a noble and ruling whatever territory you claim ownership of. While the long-term goal is to ensure you have an heir and grow the family tree, you must manage the royal court, expand your reach through marriage or war, and deal with any personal issues that may arise. arise through the process known as Diets.

Crusader Kings III is a complex and often convoluted game with tons of dense and real historical world building. In the three time periods you are allowed to start in, there are kingdoms, nation states, and more that you can rule over. And with the introduction of character creation, you can throw your own custom ruler into the mix. There’s never a dull moment with so many options and unique paths you can take, including killing and eating the pope. Yes, memes are actually true.

Find Crusader Kings III on Steam (opens in a new tab)

Bear and breakfast

a cartoon grizzly on the left, while a cartoon fox on the right speaks in the text box

(Image credit: Armor Games Studios)

Ever wanted to play as a teenage grizzly bear who, together with his friends, opens up a cozy guesthouse in the woods? Well, Bear and Breakfast will take away that itch you didn’t know you had, with its laid back management adventure gameplay. Your job is to manage your small hotel in the forest and keep customers happy while growing and improving your business.

Of course, there’s a deeper mystery going on that you’ll slowly uncover as you progress through the story. The pacing is a bit slow in the middle, but it’s an intriguing plot that delivers once it gets going. And the art style and animations are adorable, which automatically elevates the game experience in my opinion.

The meat and potatoes of this game is the management aspect, which is sure to be a delight for those who love the genre. The mechanics are simple to understand and it’s fun to meet your customers’ needs while customizing your B&B, and the development team takes player feedback on how to improve the UI and mechanics.

To find Bear and Breakfast on Steam

Vanaris Tactics

a strategy game map with various human units placed on the field

(Image credit: Toge Productions)

Fans of the Final Fantasy Tactics series will immediately recognize many of the inspirations Vanaris Tactics draws from it, especially in combat, story, and art style. It’s much shorter and simpler than that franchise but still embodies its spirit.

Like the Tactics series, this game is steeped in politics as it tells the story of refugees fleeing their homeland after its occupation. The main objective is to find your compatriots and flee the country as well as your oppressors. You’ll find yourself engrossed in the stories of these characters and wish for their freedom as badly as they do.

The combat is similar to many tactical JRPGs from the genre’s golden age, allowing you to take advantage of positioning, environments, weapon range, and more to battle your opponents while avoiding their counters. -attacks. The excellent pixel animation really sells the combat, as well as the cutscenes, and the music is well composed and arranged.

Because this game is so short, the pacing doesn’t drag on and it feels more like a short burst of what you love most in a tactical JRPG. It’s an impressive title that was developed by one person and is definitely worth a look, especially for its low price.

To find Vanaris Tactics on Steam

Boyfriend’s Dungeon

two people standing, a woman and a male

(Image credit: Kitfox Games)

A one-part dating sim and two-part action RPG, as you take on an ever-expanding dungeon with your love (or loves) by your side. The twist? Your partner can become the weapon you use to eliminate enemies. It’s an interesting take on the classic dating sim genre and delivers on all fronts.

The dating part features a wide variety of characters with a bit of variance in personality. It’s refreshing to play a dating sim that digs deep and fleshes out your potential suitors in a way that makes them feel like real people and not just a collection of clichés. I found myself liking every person and going for the poly ending because I couldn’t choose between any of them.

Combat is also fun, with each weapon not only having a unique playstyle and move list, but also its own skill tree that caters to that weapon’s specific playstyle. It’s an absolute blast to explore each weapon and see which suits you best. The dungeons are also fun and the boss fights are tough but never cheap. And with new DLC now available, there are even more hotties to charm and battle.

To find Boyfriend Dungeon on Steam

VA-11 Hall-A: cyberpunk bartender action

a blue-haired woman with armor on the left and a drink-making interface on the right

(Image credit: Ysbryd Games, AGM PLAYISM)

Imagine a hellish cyberpunk future, with a rebel group fighting for their lives and freedom against a powerful and corrupt corporate government. Well, you’re not involved in any of that. Instead, you play as a brave bartender trying her best to survive the daily grind of a cyberpunk world gone mad as you chat and mix drinks for your customers.

The gameplay is all about finding out what type of drink your customer wants and then delivering it. You also have the opportunity to chat with them and help them make decisions that change the course of their own lives. Of course, you have your own issues, like making rent each month and deciding which treats to get.

What makes this game so addicting is how real and down to earth it feels. The game never sugarcoats anything, offering a candid look at many adult and sensitive topics, including sex work, death, loss, and how living in a dystopian world can really affect your own psyche. But it never gets edgy or fetishistic either, treating every character and subject matter with the respect it deserves and even adding dark humor wherever possible.

To find VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action on Steam

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