It’s Halloween, the time of year when we get to cover everything with fake cobwebs, pumpkins and witch- or zombie-theme designs—as well as celebrate the holiday with apps on our phones.
The digital Halloween fun starts with games like Skullduggery by ClutchPlay Games, $3 on iOS and free on Android.
Skullduggery puts you in control of a skull that is propelled, slingshot style, by stretching out its rubbery brain. In the story, the player represents the Internal Revenue Service of the dead, seizing assets that have been taken to the afterlife illegally. People bounce the skull around to avoid obstacles and collect the assets. It’s easy to learn, and the app has great graphics and enough complexity in the gameplay to keep it interesting.
Grim Fandango is another game app for this time of year because of its skeletons and afterlife theme. It’s a three-dimensional graphical adventure game where you play Manny Calavera, a travel agent for lost souls whose life is suddenly complicated by love. To play, you walk through a large number of scenes and interact with items by tapping on them. Every part of the story is beautifully illustrated, the soundtrack is compelling, and the puzzles are funny, and sometimes abstract.
Some notes of caution: The game is more expensive at $10 on iOS and Android. The puzzles can occasionally be too hard to solve, and you may find yourself needing to search the Web for hints. At other times, the graphics may seem limited. That’s because the app is a remastering of a computer game from 1998. It’s still very satisfying to play.
For a different app with some serious scare potential, check out Turned: Zombie Photo-Real Effects, a free iOS app. Of the many apps that promise to add zombie or monster special effects to your selfies, Turned stands out because it applies video effects in real time to a camera feed of your face. You fire up the app, let it scan your features for a moment and then watch as your face is transformed into a zombie mask that moves as you do—with coloured eyeballs, gory wounds and pallid skin that stretches and changes as you turn or open your mouth.
You can adjust the effects that appear on your face to personalise your zombie look, and even choose to be made over as a human survivor in faux zombie make up. The effects are startling, and you can snap a photo of your zombie face or record a short video that can be shared on Instagram or other social media. There are extras like being able to share your images to the app’s global gallery, where you can see how users are “spreading the infection” by using the app. This impressive photo-effect app comes with a limited number of free options, and it costs just a handful of dollars to buy more in the app.
For a similar app that is slightly lower tech and adds static special effects to a traditional selfie, try the Walking Dead: Dead Yourself app, on both iOS and Android. You take a photo of yourself or a friend and add zombie eye and mouth effects, plus props from “The Walking Dead” TV show. Then you can share the images over social media or with the app’s photo gallery feature, where you can see other users’ efforts.
The app requires more manual tweaking than turning, because you adjust the position and size of the effects by hand. The results are quite ghoulish, and the app is free.
Halloween Live Wallpaper World is an Android live wallpaper app that adds a spooky look to your phone or tablet. It places moving cartoon-like images on your screen, including owls, witches, vampires, bats, the moon and other Halloween-theme effects. You can interact with some images, tapping them to make them move or complete other actions. It costs $1.
The Halloween app by Schatzisoft, on iOS, is a way to count down the days until Halloween while learning about the history of the holiday and enjoying extras like spooky sound effects. (You could use the scream sound effect to terrify an unsuspecting friend, for example.) Tapping on the trivia section brings up interesting facts that can be used as conversation starters at a party. The app is free. One app I sought but didn’t find: a pumpkin-carving app. Perhaps next year.