We're a month away from a national election that could permanently alter America's standing in the eyes of her countrymen, allies, and enemies. But if you're looking to take a break from the 24/7 news cycle—and from checking Twitter every five minutes for updates on the president's health—there are a lot of new video games out there to occupy your attention.
October, of course, is ripe for horror games, and there's plenty of them coming out this month. But there are also interesting variations on some classic family-friendly experiences: An iconic marsupial collects wumpa fruit while navigating multidimensional worlds. And a classic 8-bit plumber gets a gameplay overhaul for his 35th anniversary.
Here is your monthly video game news roundup for October 2020.
XBox Live Gold Free Games
Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut (Oct. 1-Oct. 31)
This is a puzzle game that places you in the role of the psycho killer. Cartoonish, bloody fun.
Maid of Sker (Oct. 16-Nov. 15)
A first-person horror game set in a hotel, Maid of Sker will have you sneaking around and barely breathing, literally; you hold your breath so the enemies don't hear you.
Xbox 360 (backwards compatible)
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy (Oct. 1-Oct. 15)
You play as an Egyptian god in this third-person action adventure, and take on the wicked Set for control of the world.
Costume Quest (Oct. 16-Oct. 31)
A child loses his sibling while trick-or-treating and must fight monsters to get him back. You use costumes to gain the powers and abilities of whatever you're dressed as.
Playstation Plus Free Games
Vampyr (Oct. 6)
Set in London during the era of Spanish flu, Vampyr places you in the role of a doctor-turned-vampire who attempts to balance his ethics with his need to kill and feed.
Need for Speed Payback (Oct. 6)
A racing game with a heist getaway story, Payback is the 23rd entry in the franchise, featuring 74 vehicles to drive around a fictionalized version of Las Vegas.
Google Stadia Free Games
Celeste (Oct. 1)
One of the most acclaimed games of 2018, Celeste has you wordlessly climbing a mountain, overcoming the numerous obstacles that get in your way. Perfect throwback gameplay.
Human Fall Flat (Oct. 1)
A puzzle experience with a sense of humor, this game stars Bob, a simply rendered character who must solve physics-related problems.
Jotun (Oct. 1)
This is a beautiful hand-drawn game directly inspired by Norse mythology, in which you must guide a dead viking warrior to enter Valhalla.
Dead by Daylight (Oct. 1)
This is a multiplayer horror game that casts one player as the killer and four other players as would-be victims who must avoid being captured, sacrificed, and killed.
Lara Croft: Temple of Osiris (Oct. 14)
A multiplayer Tomb Raider experience with an angled, isometric perspective, Temple of Osiris is a direct sequel to the well-received Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.
Superhot: Mind Control Delete (Oct. 14)
A procedurally generated level expansion of the original, this game has a fascinating take on bullet time; time only moves when you move or shoot, allowing you to plan out your next move and route of attack.
Super Mario Bros 35 (Oct. 1)
Released to coincide with the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros, this is a 35-person battle royale where killing enemies sends them to another player's screen. It's free for anyone who subscribes to the Nintendo Switch online service.
Star Wars Squadrons (Oct. 2)
Set in the relatively uncharted time period after Episode VI, Star Wars Squadrons brings back the spaceship dogfights that we've all been waiting for. If you've been dying to play as an X-Wing or TIE Interceptor with modern, up-to-date graphics, now is the time.
Crash Bandicoot 4 (Oct. 2)
Fiendishly difficult and irrepressibly cool, Crash Bandicoot 4 is the most challenging entry in the acclaimed marsupial franchise. It's more spinning and more wumpa fruit, with the added trickery of magical masks, which can be used to invert gravity, slow down time, and more.
FIFA 21 (Oct. 9)
The latest installment of the soccer franchise features 100 iconic, legendary players and an improved, more streamlined club experience. It removes the oft-criticized consumable fitness, coaching, and training items, which led to tedium and hoarding instead of better gameplay.
Remothered: Broken Porcelain (Oct. 13)
This is a cinematic survival horror adventure. Two teenage delinquent girls who work in the Ashmann Inn slowly bond. But their growing mutual attraction is complicated by the dark events happening around them.
NHL 21 (Oct. 16)
In addition to general quality-of-life tweaks to make the gameplay smoother (this is ice hockey, after all!), the premier hockey franchise also has a fleshed-out single player story mode, featuring dialogue, cinematic elements, and interactions with your coaches, the press, and more.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit (Oct.16)
Instead of racing around Rainbow Road or the latest Ghost House, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit turns your living room into the latest Mario Kart track. The game uses digitally augmented reality technology, along with a real-life RC car equipped with cameras, to give you a driver's-seat perspective of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Amnesia: Rebirth (Oct. 20)
The latest entry in the Amnesia franchise returns with disturbing imagery, unsettling monsters, and a sanity meter, which decreases when you encounter enemies or remain in the dark for too long. It's the sort of game that's a perfect match for Halloween.
Pokémon Sword and Shield: The Crown Tundra (Oct. 27)
The latest DLC expansion of Pokémon Sword and Shield transports you to a chilly, beautiful landscape, with snow-covered mountains and tundra creatures. It debuts the new Calyrex, a legendary Pokémon with the ability to see into the past, present, and future.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands (Oct. 27)
It took close to a year since it was first announced, but the latest iteration of World of Warcraft, Shadowlands, is finally arriving this month. It completely revamps the leveling system and allows players the opportunity to explore its land of the dead.
Watchdogs Legion (Oct. 29)
The ambition of this open-world game is off the charts. You're not playing as a single computer hacker. In true Anonymous fashion, you're "playing as everyone." You recruit directly from the crowds of people that surround you to complete your missions: everything from taking down terrorists to confounding Big Tech to sticking it to the man. But be careful: if your new recruit gets killed in the field, he's gone for good.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe (Oct. 30)
And, lastly, another Wii U classic is getting ported to the Nintendo Switch this month. Pikmin 3 is cute, puzzle-heavy, and utterly charming—in other words, it's Nintendo. And since the Wii U sold so poorly, there's a good chance you haven't played it yet. If it's new to you, definitely give it a try.