Misty Hollow is a free Halloween-themed narrative game for Windows released as CoziiStudios’ submission to the Spooktober Visual Novel Jam by DevTalk. Misty Hollow is an aesthetically pleasing visual novel dealing with complex concepts such as tolerance, acceptance, and mental health.
There are many similar small free games to be found on itch.io, one such entry being Off Day. Off Day also handles complex concepts of the human experience in a sweet and simple visual novel format. Another good alternative if you enjoy the Halloween theme is Vampliar which deals with love in the spooky season.
Misty Hollow features a soft, almost monochromatic pink theme throughout the various scenes in the game. This simple approach to visual design lets you focus on the storyline more deeply instead of an onslaught of bright colours. The character design is smooth and diverse. None of the characters are carbon copy sketches of any other, and all have relatively detailed stories.
The game centres around a character initially known as Pumpkin Man and his recent move to a new town after an unspecified life crisis. Upon the arrival of the first neighbour, you can choose a new name for your character. For most interactions with other characters, you have a few responses to choose from that ultimately decide the development and progression of your character.
As with most of these small Windows-based games, Misty Hollow was not created for the visuals. Instead, it features many characters, each with their own struggles letting you learn how to handle social situations in a safe space. Navigate concepts like love, friendship, and acceptance of people, or in this case monsters, from all walks of life.
Using monsters in games like this is an apt choice. Many people who see themselves as outcasts or going against the grain of society feel like monsters. Hence, an approach like in Misty Hollow fosters the inclusion of otherness into how we view mainstream society.
Misty Hollow is packed with more features than most visual novel games. Featured are four characters suitable for flirtatious or innocent romantic exchanges, over fifteen side characters with individual personalities, and, as stated in the itch.io description, occasional awkward flirting.
The game also features 20,000 words worth of playable content and more than thirty different backdrops.