Halloween Forever

At first glance, you wouldn’t think 2016’s Halloween Forever from Imaginary Monsters and Poppy Works is a horror game. After all, it’s a 2D platformer with charming 8-bit graphics. Oh, it’s quirky for sure, but its dark vibes and supernatural themes make it an unassuming little horror game.

I first played Halloween Forever last year, but I only got three levels in. When it recently hit me that October 2021 just sort of came and went really quickly. I was hungrier for horror than I was for candy, and for whatever reason, I opted to finally play all the way through this particular game’s five stages.

What I discovered after playing through to the very end of the game was a surprise horror platformer that’s as quirky as it is creepy! Here are five reasons Halloween Forever qualifies as a horror game.

There Are Nightmarish Monsters Everywhere

Halloween Forever Enemies - Chainsaw Killers and Skeleton Wizards

Halloween Forever walks a fine line between kind of cute and somewhat grotesque. This is evident primarily in its enemy designs. Yes, the chainsaw-wielding madmen and skeleton wizards are slightly chibi in their designs, but… I mean, they’re still chainsaw-wielding madmen and skeleton wizards! They have this imposing, menacing aura of them, pixelated as they may be.

There are also giant spiders that crawl all over the place, decaying heads that float through the stages, and skeletal zombies roaming around. The game’s bosses are a major highlight, and you’ll encounter both mid-level and end-level bosses in each of the five stages. There’s a flaming demon. There’s a giant skull that shoots its eyeballs at you. There’s also a big, reptilian monster that looks like a cross between a giant leech and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The monsters of Halloween Forever look like they’re inspired by everything from classic cinema to splatter flicks to slasher films, and they’re a legit threat and kind of scary to face off against.

Charming Graphics Aside, the Levels Are Creepy

Halloween Forever - Porphyry Palace

If you’re a fan of retro games or games with simpler graphics, it’s hard not to appreciate the visual style of Halloween Forever. The game looks great, and there’s a fun vibe to it. That said, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the levels are genuinely moody. Forgotten Cemetery and Spooky Church have a cool ‘80s atmosphere to them, and Bloody Mansion gets that awesome haunted house mood just right.

The last two stages, Mystic Ruins and Porphyry Palace, tread unique ground and go for more of a fantasy-horror tone than the earlier levels.

The Plot Could Be a Horror Movie

Halloween III: Season of the Witch - Pumpkin Mask

Though it’s light on story, the setup of Halloween Forever could easily be a horror movie. Truthfully, it already feels inspired by Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Per the game’s title, the game’s main villain wants it to be Halloween forever, so he reanimates corpses and creates monsters to roam the land.

Pumpkin Man, the game’s hero, is essentially a benevolent Halloween spirit with a jack-o’-lantern for a head. He’s kind of reminiscent of the pumpkin mask from the aforementioned Halloween III, albeit without the squishy, decaying, bug-filled innards.

There’s Tension at Every Turn

Halloween Forever - Spike Traps

Some horror games, movies, and books do an excellent job of creating tension. This feeling of dread sometimes has more of an impact than what you actually see. Because Halloween Forever emulates classic NES era platformers, there’s literally tension sprinkled everywhere.

Though you have multiple lives, if you run out of these, you’ll have to start the game over from the beginning. It’s not an especially long game, but it could take a couple hours to learn where all of the traps are. Speaking of which, there are a few blind jumps here and there, and these can feel kind of cheap at first, but they also add to the high-stakes play and force you to put in a conscious effort to succeed.

There Are Jump Scares

Halloween Forever - Leech Enemies

Okay, so nothing pops out on the screen and there are no loud, sharp noises, but Halloween Forever has its own version of what a jump scare would be. Specifically, there are times when you’ll be traversing the 2D levels, and then enemies — such as falling skeletons or underground leeches — will appear seemingly out of nowhere.

If you’re not treading with caution, you could take a hit. Getting hit by a falling skeleton both chips away at your health and knocks you back. The latter is especially awful if you’re in the middle of a jump over some spikes as you’ll be sent backward into them. Some spikes only do one hit point of damage, while others can instantly kill Pumpkin Man. So yeah, the falling skeletons aren’t exactly a jump scare, but they’ll catch you by surprise and cause you all sorts of grief nonetheless.


Realistically, Halloween Forever might not appeal to anyone looking for something with more cinematic scares, vast amounts of gore, or survival horror elements. Still, it’s a fun little game that borrows heavily from the horror genre in its own ways and builds a fun and challenging 2D platformer around those inspirations. It’s not your traditional horror game, but there’s a case to be made that Halloween Forever certainly falls under the horror umbrella.

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