High street shops will try to convince you differently but there is most definitely a seasonal event that takes place before Christmas, and it’s one that gamers are particularly fond of: Halloween. This month, the folks at Microsoft are giving you a handful of gruesome games to help you celebrate the season to be fearful, free for every Xbox Live Gold and Gamepass Ultimate subscriber.
Like Playstation Plus, you can add titles to your library to play later but they will only be accessible with an active Gold or Gamepass Ultimate membership. Unlike PS Plus, Gold freebies tend to swap in and out during the course of the month, so be sure to grab them all before they’re gone!
SLAYAWAY CAMP: BUTCHER’S CUT
It’s difficult (read as ‘impossible’) to characterise a psychotic serial killer as ‘adorable’ but the Minecraft-inspired visuals of Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut do just that, thrusting players into the blocky shoes of cutesy slasher, Skullface, as you puzzle your way through hundreds of isometric levels on a quest for bloody revenge. Drawing from 80’s slasher cornerstones like Friday the 13th, Slayaway Camp requires a little more lateral thinking mixed in with its cartoony ultra-violence than the films it apes and will require forward planning to keep Skullface out of the crosshairs of the heavily-armed investigating police!
Available from October 1 – 31.
MAID OF SKER
While Slayaway Camp represents the cutesy subversion of horrific acts embodied by trick-or-treating, Maid of Sker is more in line with the darker aspects associated with All Hallow’s Eve. Based on the haunting tale of Elizabeth Williams, Maid of Sker is a first-person survival horror set in a remote British hotel where players must unravel a horrific family secret while avoiding the attentions of the terrifying enemies known as the Quiet Ones, twisted creatures that hunt using sound alone…
Available from October 16 – November 15.
Epitomising that which is most family-friendly about Halloween – the art of liberating candy from your neighbours in adorable outfits – Double Fine Studios combines trick-or-treating with turn-based combat as you set out on an epic quest to rescue your kidnapped sister from fiendish goblins. Collect magical costumes with super powers, unique weapons and special items as you hunt down clues to your sibling’s location and level up your monster squad for the final confrontation to save Halloween!
Available from October 16 – October 31.
SPHYNX AND THE CURSED MUMMY
No Halloween is complete without a mummy of the Egyptian persuasion and Microsoft have dug deep into their back catalogue to ensure that tradition continues. Sphynx and the Cursed Mummy is an original IP that appeared on the original Xbox back in the day. Mixing third-person action, adventure, platforming with generous bouts of humour, courtesy of your bandaged undead companion, Sphynx is sure to keep your sugar-infused pulse racing in between costume changes.
Available from October 1 – 15.
For those of you lucky enough to have secured Series X and S pre-orders, this is probably going to be the longest weeks of your life (since this time in 2013, at any rate) but luckily you have a varied bag of free treats to take you mind off of the ticking clock until then.