Google gets into the Halloween spirit with a ghostly multiplayer interactive Doodle

halloween game ghost multiplayer

If you want to take a break from work or the never-ending news cycle, Google is here to give you an escape. The search giant has launched a new Halloween-themed playable Doodle that opens up to a Snake-like game that you can play with your friends or random players from around the world.

The goal of the game is to collect as many wandering spirit flames as you can in two minutes and return them to their homebase. After time’s up, the team that has collected the most spirit flames wins. Here’s the catch: opponents can intercept spirits from one another as they bring them back to homebase. Ghosts that collect the most spirit flames will also unlock special powers, such as speed boosts and night vision.

You can host a game and invite up to seven friends to play with you via a custom invitation link or choose to play with randomized players. Google says the team that developed the Doodle built several systems to enable this multiplayer gaming, all running on the Google Cloud Platform. The team utilized Open Match, which is an open source matchmaking framework co-founded by Google Cloud and Unity.

Google often uses its Doodles to commemorate historical dates and figures, but sometimes uses the feature to add a bit of fun when it comes to holidays. The new multiplayer Doodle is the sequel to Google’s “Great Ghoul Duel Doodle” from 2018. The 2022 version includes new characters, game maps, special power-ups and more.

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For Halloween, Google Doodle scares up addictive multiplayer game

Invite friends or family members to play Great Ghoul Duel or join random strangers from around the world.

Steven_Musil2.jpg

Google's Great Ghoul Duel lets you form teams with friends and family or play with random strangers around the world.

Google has another Halloween treat for fans of its Doodle games -- its first-ever multiplayer game.

Two years ago, Google captivated Doodle players with a game featuring an adorable black cat with magic powers that races the clock to save its school from a horde of invading spirits. This year's  Great Ghoul Duel takes things up a notch by letting you form two teams of four ghosts to collect as many wandering spirit flames as possible and return them to your home base within two minutes.

The team that collects the most spirit flames wins, but beware: Teams can steal flames from each other as they try to deposit them at their home base. Ghosts that collect the most spirit flames will also unlock special powers, such as speed boosts and night vision.

Weird horror films and TV shows you may have overlooked

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Players can invite seven friends or family members to play the game via a custom link, or play random strangers around the world.

Google Doodles have now been around for 20 years . The first Doodle appeared in 1998, when Google's co-founders spoofed the traditional "out of office" sign by incorporating the Burning Man symbol into the company's corporate logo. Since then, the addition of colorful -- and sometimes interactive -- graphics to Google's logo to highlight notable people, events, holidays and anniversaries has become a ritual. Doodles have celebrated, among many other things, Pac-Man's anniversary , Copernicus' birthday , Mother's Day and the World Cup , as well as reminding us of lesser-known real-world heroes .

In the case of this year's Halloween doodle, several systems that run on the Google Cloud Platform made Google's first multiplayer game possible. 

Before venturing in, though, a word of warning: If it's like Google's other Doodle games, it'll likely be highly addicting. Make sure you have plenty of candy handy to sustain your strength.

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Originally published Oct. 30 at 12:01 a.m. PT. Updated Oct. 31 at 8:48 a.m. PT:  Added background on the history of Google Doodles.

Google Doodle honors Tyrus Wong : He's the long-unrecognized Bambi illustrator.

Best Halloween movies : Here's where you can stream them.

10 Best Multiplayer Games For Halloween

Spooky titles, like Dead by Daylight and The Dark Pictures Anthology: House Of Ashes, are popular choices for Halloween games to keep players on edge.

Halloween is the perfect time for gamers to enjoy some social gaming sessions. Plenty of players enjoy horror games alone, delighting in the unease and fear they generate. However, many prefer to have company, whether for reassurance or to share the scares with others.

As a time of year and a festival, Halloween is a welcome opportunity for gamers to get together and frighten themselves as a group. Plenty of developers have released games that cater to this crowd, with cooperative and competitive experiences available. Not all the best Halloween games are horror titles, allowing for a wide range of players.

RELATED: 10 Non-Horror Games to Play This Spooky Season

10 Dead By Daylight

Dead by Daylight has become the premium competitive horror title for many gamers. Four players control survivors trapped with a lethal murderer, attempting to escape. The fifth controls that murderer, hunting the others down in an asymmetric survival experience that tests the skills of both sides.

Dead by Daylight isn't just perfect for Halloween because of its genuine scares and fun competitive gameplay. It's also a love letter to classic horror franchises. Players can control the antagonists of ideal Halloween moves like Saw , Alien , Scream , and even the iconic Halloween for the perfect festive experience.

9 The Dark Pictures Anthology: House Of Ashes

Supermassive Games have become known for making cinematic, interactive horror experiences that hearken back to beloved scare movies. Starting with The Dark Pictures Anthology titles, the company has begun catering to a multiplayer crowd. Players can each control one of the games' characters or collaboratively vote on decisions to change the story.

Any The Dark Pictures Anthology game is the perfect group experience for a Halloween video game. Later Supermassive Games titles like The Quarry also work well. However, many players think The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes is the best experience for its mix of creeping dread and high-octane horror.

RELATED: Every Supermassive Horror Game, Ranked

8 Remnant II

Remnant: From the Ashes and its sequel Remnant II are not outright horror games. They're third-person shooters that draw elements from the roguelike genre and from Dark Souls . However, these elements include heavy horror themes in the enemies and environments the players fight through, with a grim and apocalyptic plot.

Remnant II is an ideal Halloween multiplayer game for groups who want more than scares. It offers action, skill-based team gameplay, progression, and much more. Remnant II will give a group the ideal atmosphere for a horror game night while also being something they can happily continue playing after the season.

7 Phasmophobia

Phasmophobia is a game made from the ground up for groups of friends to play. It's a cooperative ghost-hunting video game that tasks players with investigating the scene of a haunting and surviving. Phasmophobia can be played solo but encourages players to group up with its variety of in-game equipment and features like proximity-based voice chat.

Phasmophobia isn't the gaming culture sensation it once was. Nonetheless, it still has plenty of content for Halloween video game groups with the ghost-hunting urge. The developers frequently update it with new features and scares. Even groups who have played Phasmophobia before will likely enjoy picking it back up for a Halloween game night.

6 Don't Starve Together

Don't Starve Together is the multiplayer iteration of popular horror-themed survival title Don't Starve . Players must still carve out a living space in a hostile, alien world and survive the Constant's many terrors. In Don't Starve Together , however, they do so with friends rather than completely alone.

Don't Starve Together lets players control a variety of characters and combine their disparate talents to survive harsh seasons and brutal nights. Although it's not an outright horror game, it has no problem using unsettling enemies and nightmarish events, all designed to build up dread as players forestall the inevitable.

RELATED: 10 Best Survival Games, Ranked

5 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is another asymmetric video game. It's based on the iconic slasher film series of the same name. Like in many other games, some players control escaping survivors while others take the role of slashers. However, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ups the ante by having three hunters go after players.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre puts a new spin on similar titles like Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th: The Game . Both the survivors and the slashers have more to deal with, adding to the stress and dread of gameplay. Its horrifying visuals and homages to a horror classic make it an ideal Halloween video game for large groups.

4 Sons Of The Forest

Sons of the Forest is the sequel to iconic early access horror game The Forest . It has a similar premise to the original title with significant technical and gameplay improvements. It's a survival horror title that emphasizes survival. Players explore a hostile island they've become stranded on, collecting resources to build a camp.

Sons of the Forest tasks players with mundane chores like chopping wood and collecting herbs. However, it combines these tasks with an omnipresent horror atmosphere that can lead to players facing cannibals or monsters at any point in any task. Player groups who never want to feel safe will find Sons of the Forest a perfect Halloween video game .

3 Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2 is well over a decade old and still one of the most popular multiplayer horror games ever. It's full-on action horror, replacing creeping dread with high-octane action as four players lay waste to hundreds of zombies. Despite this, it retains a tense horror atmosphere as it forces players to be constantly vigilant for the next potentially game-ending attack.

Left 4 Dead 2 has an acclaimed mixture of action and horror, of hopeless defeat and exhilarating catharsis at a moment's notice. Its AI Director and high levels of randomness make it almost infinitely replayable. Even groups who have owned Left 4 Dead 2 for years can enjoy it for a Halloween horror game night.

RELATED: 20 Best Zombie Games Of All Time, Ranked

2 Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Dying Light 2: Stay Human is a vast open-world action-adventure game that one player can enjoy by themselves. It retains the original's mix of zombie apocalypse aesthetics and fast-paced parkour gameplay. Players don't step into the shoes of a helpless bystander, but an experienced combatant and survivor who can thrive in a zombie-dominated world.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human is primarily a single-player experience. However, up to four players can appear in a single world to fight enemies and complete missions together. Groups looking for a change from other zombie fare may appreciate the more crisp gameplay of Dying Light 2: Stay Human .

1 The Outlast Trials

The Outlast games have historically been single-player psychological horror experiences. Some groups have played them with one person controlling and others watching. The Outlast Trials , a prequel, instead allows for more active Halloween horror gaming. Up to four players can attempt to survive The Outlast Trials ' nightmares.

Having friends present doesn't make The Outlast Trials any less frightening. It uses the series' signature combination of creeping psychological dread and overt nightmarish imagery to hit every possible angle of horror. The Outlast Trials is the perfect Halloween video game for groups who want gruesome scares in their social activity.

Today’s Google Doodle is a Halloween-themed multiplayer game

Collect more spirits than your opponents in the Great Ghoul Duel.

halloween game ghost multiplayer

At what point is a Google Doodle no longer a doodle? Not that I’m one to go pinning labels on everything like a particularly fastidious sales assistant, but “when it’s a fully-functional video-game”, seems like an appropriate cut-off point. I’m fairly sure you can’t doodle mathematics, although the world might admittedly be a lot more fun if you could. Imagine if Einsten's equation for mass-energy equivalence was E= picture of a cat plus a smiley-face squared.

Anyway, head over to the Google homepage today and you can play the Great Ghoul Duel, which is a team-based multiplayer game about ghosts collecting spirits. Appearing on a (presumably haunted) server with random spectres from the Internet, you and your ghostly buddies must collect more spirits than the other team before the timer runs out.

Where things get interesting is each spirit you collect is added to an ever growing line of spirits that trail behind you, and at any point a ghost from the rival team can swoop in and take possession of all your spirits. Hence, there’s a nice sprinkling of mechanical tension between collecting as many spirits as you can before returning to your base, and avoiding having them cheekily swept up by an opponent. You can immediately steal them back of course, which makes for some amusing tit-for-tat exchanges.

It’s a little bit like a multiplayer version of Snake. It’s not cavernously deep, but it’s a more enjoyable way to interact with Internet folk over your lunch break than gazing into the black chasm of Twitter. Check it out here .

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Google's Halloween game is basically Ghosts.io and it's spooky multiplayer fun

Play Google's Halloween Doodle and steal spirits from your friends or strangers

halloween game ghost multiplayer

Google 's popped games into the "doodle" slot of its homepage before, but the new Halloween-themed treat you can play right now is easily the most fun diversion devised by the search/tech/ads/everything giant yet. That's right, I said it: I don't think Pac-Man is all that fun even if you're playing on the streets of your hometown . But I digress.

The new Google Doodle game is called The Great Ghoul Duel, and it's an online multiplayer game about a bunch of ghosts floating around and stealing souls from each other. You can play on a desktop or mobile device by heading to Google.com and clicking or tapping the colorful icon near the top of the page. It's quite fully featured, with automatic matchmaking, private lobbies so you can play with friends, bots to fill in empty player slots, and multiple maps.

Also, the ghosts are cute as haunted buttons.

Team Purple or Team Green? 🙀 We have to admit, this lineup's pretty grape. #Halloween #GoogleDoodle → https://t.co/SHbC3tPVv3 pic.twitter.com/ZnkXqlBOHP October 30, 2018

Playing the Great Ghoul Duel feels like a cross between slither.io and Capture the Flag: your ghostly duty is to roam around the map and collect little glowing Spirit Flames. Collected flames follow along behind you in a glowing trail, and if you pass through a member of the opposing team's trail you'll steal flames from behind the point you touched. You also get a few for passing through a teammate. Whichever team banks the most flames  by depositing them back at their base after two minutes wins; bank enough at once and you'll even get handy power-ups like magnetism or wall-clipping.

Let me tell you, if you ever want to feel good about your ability to play video games, just compete against a bunch of people who probably don't play many video games. Sorry not sorry for taking all your spirits, green team. I needed that "Polter-Heist" award.

Keep the good times rolling with our list of the best free games you can play right now.  

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Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.

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Great Ghost Duel: How to play the Google Doodle multiplayer Halloween game

halloween game ghost multiplayer

Google delivered a treat for its Halloween doodle: its first multiplayer game.

Visit Google's main search page and you'll spot green and purple ghosts congregating near a creepy Google logo.

When users hit play, they bring up a game called Great Ghoul Duel. The game features two teams of green and purple ghosts trying to capture as many spirits as they can and return them to their home base.

Players can move the ghosts using the arrow keys on their keyboard, joining other human players in trying to recruit spirits, which lead to in-game bonuses such as faster speed and night vision.

Users can play with random people around the globe or host their own match, sending friends a link invite to join.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23 .

Inside Google’s new Halloween-themed playable Doodle

halloween game ghost multiplayer

When people open Google.com, the tech company’s Doodle team has a few seconds to hook a visitor into engaging with their games, illustrations or historical facts. This Halloween, Google is inviting people to play an online multiplayer game akin to arcade and classic phone game “Snake.”

Like “Snake,” the new Google Doodle lets players move across a map, amassing pixels that follow their character and grow longer. To join, anyone can click on the Doodle to form two teams of four players with other internet strangers and attempt to collect as many “spirit flames” as possible, using a mouse to move a little ghost around. As a twist, teams can steal flames from each other. After a two-minute time limit, the team with the most flames wins.

It’s a version of a 2018 Doodle called “The Great Ghoul Duel” that was one of Google’s most popular. This time, Google has added new maps, new characters and a new power-up. Players can earn little hats for their characters as achievements, too. The original plan was to bring back the Google Doodle in 2021, but it ended up getting delayed for a year. Googlers cited issues supporting the amount of people it expected to visit the site and play its multiplayer game.

“It was just making sure that the servers were going to be reliable enough to launch for the huge amount of interest,” said Jacob Howcroft, lead engineer on the Google Doodle, in an interview with The Washington Post.

Meet the 14 Pokémon with the most disturbing backstories

Making a Halloween Google Doodle for the internet posed challenges besides server issues: Children use Google, too, so the Doodle couldn’t be too spooky or scary.

“You want it to stay very strictly in the fun zone,” said Nate Swineheart, creative lead on the Google Doodle. “One of the initial proposals for a new level was to do an abandoned amusement park. The art for it was so cool and it was so fun, but it was a little on the line. And then we’re also kind of coming off of the pandemic and the idea of abandoned things is maybe not the most fun tone.”

The Google Doodle team added a level set in a museum at night, instead.

Behold the birth, and resonance, of walking simulators like 'Journey'

Despite the resemblances to older arcade games like “Snake” and “Pac-Man,” Google Doodle employees insisted that they were inspired by popular, more elaborate multiplayer games like Nintendo’s “Splatoon,” online battle arena game “League of Legends,” and indie adventure game “Journey.”

“The unlikely inspiration was ‘Journey,’ which does a really great job of having a multiplayer aspect that rewarded you for being with other people,” Swineheart said. “So we added this buddy bonus that if you travel with someone else, they’ll reward you with more spirit flames to encourage cooperation.”

Googlers also learned from how “League of Legends” has a powerup system, where players get stronger over time, and from the fast-paced team strategy of Splatoon.

Swineheart said Google’s Halloween Doodle mimics the far more complex progression system in “League” where players level up their champions, earn gold and buy items over time.

“When you collect 50 flames, you can go faster, then you can go through walls,” Swineheart said. “You get power boosted as you play, as a reward.”

Swineheart said that having the chain of spirit flames grow longer and follow players around — making it easier for the opponent to steal them — was a mechanic inspired by the battle mode in “Splatoon 3,” where players can be followed around by a trail of clams. He said the “high risk, high reward” gameplay “balanced really well.”

“But it did not come from ‘Snake’ at all. I would never,” he said.

The Google Doodle runs from Oct. 30 to October 31.

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IMAGES

  1. Google’s Halloween game is basically Ghosts.io and it’s spooky

    halloween game ghost multiplayer

  2. Google’s Halloween Doodle is a competitive multiplayer game

    halloween game ghost multiplayer

  3. Halloween Free Google Online Multiplayer Ghost Game!

    halloween game ghost multiplayer

  4. Google Halloween game: Doodle launches multiplayer 'Great Ghoul Duel'

    halloween game ghost multiplayer

  5. Google's First Multiplayer Game Is A Highly Addictive Halloween Doodle

    halloween game ghost multiplayer

  6. Halloween 2022: Google Doodle today with a multiplayer game on the

    halloween game ghost multiplayer

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