The most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us. No, not Christmas — once you get past the age of 25, the whole thing is just an excuse to become fat(ter) and be forced into awkward family conversations. I’m actually referring to Halloween, so what better way to ring in the season to be spooky than with some of the best horror games?
We’ve gone for mainly modern games to suggest for your Halloweeen, but there’s something to be said for the blocky cheese offered by replaying the original Resident Evil and basking in the glory of the Barry. Whether you have some friends over who you desperately need to scare until they leave or are just cosplaying as the Grim Reaper and fancy picking up the controller, here are some of your best bets.
The Best Horror Games For Halloween 2018
For The Artistic: Layers of Fear
Developer: Bloober Team Publisher: Aspyr Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1, Switch
The game that made Bloober a household horror name, Layers of Fear is the perfect horror game for anyone wanting some lovely visuals to marvel at while they collect whatever was just evacuated from their colon.
When a painter is left alone in his sprawling manor, his mental health takes a downward turn, which is bad news for you. Layers of Fear chucks all manner of nasties at you and some very effective jumpscares, but there’s a lot of twisted enjoyment to be had from simply watching as his paintings take on more deformed connotations the deeper into his insanity you fall.
The original The Evil Within was an, erm, “interesting” proposition that had too many wild ideas for its own good. While many of us may rally against streamlining innovative experiences to suit a broader experience, the simplification of The Evil Within 2 actually made it a far better game.
With Sebastian again pitched into the darkest recesses of the imagination, The Evil Within 2 embraces a semi-open world and some of the most chilling sights you’re likely to see in a horror game this generation. If you didn’t think a walking camera with legs for days would be the scariest thing you’ve ever seen, let this game set you straight.
For Those In Touch With Their Emotions: The Last of Us
Developer: Naughty Dog Publisher: SIE Platform(s): PS3, PS4
One of the best post-apocalyptic games going, as well as arguably one of the best ever made. Those unfamiliar with The Last of Us have something to remedy this Halloween, even with it approaching half a decade in age — it’s still as fresh now as it was in 2013.
Anchored by one of the most relatable and emotive relationships committed to a video game, The Last of Us sees you playing as Joel and Ellie in a world decimated by a fungal outbreak. The enemies, and especially the Clickers, are unnerving to say the least, but the real horror in The Last of Us comes from trying to beat it on Grounded.
For The Popcorn Lover: Until Dawn
Developer: Supermassive Games Publisher: SIE Platform(s): PS4
If you’re entertaining company this Halloween, there may be the temptation to just chuck on a DVD of Paranormal Activity 43 and be done with that. Rather than suffering through a rote horror movie packed with lame tropes, why not play a game that celebrates them and nods at the audience constantly instead?
Basically the Scream of video games, Until Dawn is a narrative-driven experience where you play as teenagers on a winter break. Their lives are in your hands: if one person dies, it’s not game over, they are just dead and the perspective shifts to another character. Good fun if you pretend the characters are your friends, too.
For The Social Owl: Dead By Daylight
Developer: Behaviour Digital Inc. Publisher: Behaviour Digital Inc. Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
Because what says Halloween and horror quite like dying with your friends in gruesome ways? This asymmetrical multiplayer (that you can sadly only play online) was recently given away for free with PlayStation Plus and is available for super cheap on other platforms regardless.
The pitch is simple: you play as survivors or the killer with most of the fun to be had coming with the latter. Killers have to hunt down survivors before they activate (a tonne of) generators and make their escape, which raises a bunch of moral dilemmas. Do you leave the friend you don’t really like to their doom when the killer has them hanged on a butcher’s hook? The answer is yes.
For The LSD Enthusiast: Observer
Developer: Bloober Team Publisher: Aspyr Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
If you’re having an “adult” Halloween party (i.e. one where it’s just an excuse to become unsober), you have to watch what you’re putting in your body before playing Observer as it will seriously mess you up otherwise. Consumed your body weight in mushrooms? Avoid Observer or descend into a complete LSD nightmare.
You play as a police detective who is able to “jack in” to the minds civilians and uncover their darkest fears, which basically entails some of the most unforgettable and horrifically captivating visuals ever seen in a video game. Even if you’re sober, Observer will mess with your mind better than most drugs ever could.
For The Lazy: Dying Light
Developer: Techland Publisher: Techland/WB Games Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
As I type this, I have eaten two packets of crisps and am wearing my girlfriend’s dressing gown. A physical specimen of peak human performance I am not. However, while I can barely walk up the stairs without feeling a dull ache in my knees, I can play Dying Light and leap across buildings.
An open world action title that simply has to go down as one of the best zombie games ever made, Dying Light is at its most chilling when you’re severely underpowered and the night comes, bringing the Virals with it. Will be a good game to show to your frail grandmother as she watches on with you decapitating zombies left and right.
Estate agents love a good “project”, turning a run down old building into something more modern and infinitely too expensive to actually live in. The Baker household from Resident Evil 7 is one such fixer upper for everyone’s favourite busybodies, though they might need to get in touch with a plasterer or two.
Resident Evil 7, separate from being an interior designer’s worst nightmare, is also a bloody scary game perfect for this Halloween. If you have a headset to hand, its status as one of the best PSVR games also makes it the greatest possible introduction to virtual reality for your sheepish parents. They will no doubt love it/burn down your living room because it is witchcraft.
Left 4 Dead 2 must have even scared its creators, Valve, so much that it made them forget basic numeracy shortly after its release. Yes, it’s another “can’t count to three” joke, but the fact that L4D 2 is still so much fun after all this time means that we may never even need a threequel. Okay, that’s clearly a forced lie to make me feel better.
It’s not so much a scary game as it is one that’s massively intense, barely allowing you a second’s respite from the hordes of zombies the game’s adaptive AI throws at you. With a booming online presence and no one “round” being the same, Left 4 Dead 2 is still as perfect as an action horror game can get, all these years later.
For The Solo Player: The Forest
Developer: Endnight Games Publisher: Endnight Games Platform(s): PC
Sick of stupid holidays and kids knocking on your door? Block it all out by playing The Forest: a wonderfully realised survival game in which you must find your son after your plane crash lands and demented beings stalk you tirelessly. There’s nothing quite like setting up camp only to hear a screech from afar.
The Forest allows you to either chase after your son’s captors or just tough it out in the wild. With the option to use the dead bodies of your enemies as a fence, it’s clear which path you should take. Thanks to the co-op, you can also team up with a suitably miserly friend this Halloween and build some fences in more ways than one. And also eat a turtle.