I love games that manage to pull off the delicate balance of being cute-but-creepy and the game that's currently turning my 'awws' to 'aahs!' is horror adventure Dap (opens in new tab). The top-down indie has you control a ghostly sprite—called a dap—who is on a mission to rescue its fellow spirits from an infected forest filled with monsters.
Starting as a single dap, you need to navigate through the dark undergrowth and find other daps that will then join your group. Although they look a little dead inside, the daps are a chirpy bunch and when one joins your group you can give them simple commands like 'wait' and 'follow' as you get them to safety.
I can't help but feel super protective over my creepy, ghost family. Guiding these child-like creatures through a forest gives Dap a psychedelic fairytale vibe, like Hansel and Gretel but with more sharp teeth and blood. There's one moment where you come across a clearing where lots of little bodies have been scattered about and unnerved is certainly one word for what I felt.
The monsters you fight are just as creepy. There are floating masses of tendrils, plants with huge, gaping jaws, and possessed daps that fly into a rage when they see you. You're not completely helpless and have a melee and spell attack to protect your group, and when you have more daps in your party they can help you charge-up stronger attacks. There's definitely strength in numbers, but there are parts where you have to scout ahead on your own, and suddenly going from ten daps to one makes you feel super vulnerable.
I've not played much else like Dap, and I'm keen to find out more about this otherwordly place—there are hints of god-like monsters further into the game. The developers, Meltingparrot, don't currently have a release date for Dap (opens in new tab), but the demo is about an hour long and free to play over on itch.io. For more cute creepiness, check out Ghostbutter's Penko Park (opens in new tab), an eerie Pokémon Snap game set in an abandoned wildlife reserve.