10 Best Horror Games To Play This Halloween
Ten titles especially appropriate for the spookiest season of them all.
We all love a good fright, it’s in our chemistry as humans. Being scared really drives out our emotions, makes for stronger memories and gives out the adrenaline needed for fight or flight. Basic psychology aside, we read chilling novels from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, continue to pour money into movie franchises such as Saw or IT and we pour just as much money out for horror to become a part of our video game diet; there is no doubt that we are fascinated with the macabre. We may not admit it, but we are; that’s not me talking, that’s cognitive science!
Naturally when the summer sun dies down, the leaves change colour and we all have a sudden obsession with anything and everything pumpkin flavored, us gamers are always looking for a good scare or wanting to mangle mutant zombie creatures with a strange contraption of some sort. Whether it is going back to cherished nostalgic memories, looking for something new or like me can’t be bothered to turn up to your friends Halloween bash because it requires dressing up as something, video games have shown us we don’t even need to leave our houses for a good scare. I am going to count down my personal recommendations that should be a staple in any video gamer’s collection.
10. American McGee’s Alice: Madness Returns (XBox 360)
Debatably a hidden gem on the console, mainly because all sights were set on the Xbox One’s launch by time this game released, Alice: Madness Returns may not have been the most original of video games with its platforming/hack and slash routine, but it does provide a whole petrol pump’s worth of nightmare fuel that will have you longing for the colourful vibrant world only Disney could create, so long as you can forgive a few niggling bugs and glitches here and there.
While the game may have some dated mechanics, the illustrative style and art direction is really why you need to give this game a chance. It is a dark, morose adventure of Alice combatting the Wonderland inside her mentally fragile head; while it may not be a Halloween game in the traditional sense, there’s enough shock and terror to make this a must for your Halloween needs.
It’s unlikely we are to see a third installment anytime soon, but it would be wonderful to see both games get the HD revamp treatment. In the meantime, it may be worth finding a copy and immerse yourself in a world that will leave an impression for years to come.
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9. Sunset Overdrive (XBox One)
Whoever said that zombie mutant games needed to be dark, dingy and bleak never told Insomniac Games. Thankfully too, as we wouldn’t have got the outrageously colorful, flamboyant and bonkers world of Sunset Overdrive – and what the world needs right now is gaming narratives involving teddy bear grenade launchers. This is more aimed at gamers who miss the summer months and just want to find something a little different from the norm this Halloween.
Tongue in cheek humor is the order of the day in this tale of fizzy drinks gone wrong and it’s up to you to “take down the corporate machine man” with an extrav arsenal that only an over-the-top gun fanatic could conjure in their respective nocturnal emissions.
An interesting blend of Saints Row, Assassin’s Creed and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Sunset Overdrive provides a refreshing cartoony look into a genre that has by now been done to death that wouldn’t be a surprise if it popped up as DLC on the next Star Wars Battlefront – actually, undead Jedi sound really cool, come to think of it.
8. The Evil Within (Various)
The first Evil Within proved to be a critical and commercial darling for both Bethesda and Resident Evil director Shinji Mikami. It silenced a lot of video executives when they tried to tell us the survival horror genre was dead, especially Capcom, who just released the dire and focus-group-led Resident Evil 6 by that point. Mikami not only sought out to upstage those executives, but did so with blood soaked vengeance.
What starts as a run of the norm homicide case for protagonist Sebastian Castellanos, ends in a sickening gruesome journey into his darkest and most wretched fears, The Evil Within provides a backdrop of unsettling nervous tension that has your heart palpitating with each step you take.
The gruesome monsters including the main antagonists sister, Laura still haunt me to this day with her blood curdling screams and ferocious strength that will send you running down the dark corridors swearing like a sailor. The Evil Within is an absolute must for any horror junkie, and with its second installment already getting a warm reception, you’ve got two quality games’ worth of frights and delights waiting eagerly in the shadows.
7. Bioshock (Various)
Though not a horror game in the traditional sense, the first Bioshock game still packs a bludgeoned punch to the gut when introduced to the underwater city of Rapture for the first time, making it the perfect Halloween game for anyone that wants a scare but not feel so overwhelmed with often complicated survival elements. The cries of help, the insanity of the splicers muttering to themselves and the heavy clomping of the Big Daddy’s footsteps will have you keep checking your back each and every time you journey further into Rapture’s flooded and desolate cityscape.
Some fans may agree that probably the most chilling to moment comes at the end of the game with it’s plot twist, which I shall not spoil just in case you’re one of the only people left on the planet to not hear it. However, my money on most chilling moment comes around the halfway point when you discover Sander Cohen’s audio tape The Wild Bunny, leaving you to wallow in just how lonely and vulnerable you really are to Rapture and its devious owner Andrew Ryan.
6. Silent Hill 4: The Room (PS2, Xbox)
Silent Hill 2 and 3 are good, they deserve the praise they receive and no Halloween list is complete without a Silent Hill game. I could jump on the bandwagon and repeat the tune why you should check out Silent Hill 2 or 3 verse and chapter, but it’s a shame that its fourth installment, The Room, doesn’t get that much of a look as it was equally as suspenseful and twisted as its previous counterparts and really should be given a little more love.
Instead on focusing of Silent Hill as a city, ‘The Room’ focuses on one apartment with multiple dimensions to explore, yet is still saturated in the all familiar rust and blood Konami wanted to you to immerse yourself in while playing these games.
The story of Henry Townsend looking to solve the mystery of serial killer Walter Sullivan makes for more of the impactful and intriguing story telling the Silent Hill franchise were known for at one point. The series may have taken a sharp nose dive after this installment, yet it’s all the more reason for you to fire up your sixth generation console and get yourself a copy to enjoy.
5. The Last of Us (PS3 and PS4)
Drama, suspense, emotion: maybe that’s not what some gamers want for their Halloween collection, but perhaps the feeling of helplessness, fear and running from cricket monsters with little ammo is exactly what you want. Naughty Dog brings those feelings and emotions to the table by the bucket load in ‘The Last of Us’ with a renewed interest in the survival horror genre and a more plausible scientific end-of-the-world scenario to boot.
There are plenty of moments in this game where the terror of the clickers, the slipping grip of sanity of the various survivors you meet throughout the game and long drawn out silence in between has us players so anxious, we could probably compose a top 10 list of those moments alone.
However for me, you have never known true vulnerability until you reach the cabin resort, where you are forced to go it alone as a young Ellie as predatory human survivors are after your blood. This scenario alone got me so anxious that at one point, I had to switch off my console to calm down after a devastating sneak attack I did not see coming. The Last of Us makes a lot of Halloween lists and for good reason, if you own a PS3 or PS4, play this game and see why every Sony console owner recommends this game.
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4. Doom 2016 (Various)
Blood, demons from hell, a memorable industrial metal soundtrack and big fucking guns to blow them all away, I’ll fight anyone in an alleyway if they tell me that Doom 2016 or any Doom in that regard doesn’t belong on this list. Not all games for Halloween need to be survival horror or include zombies. Some games can be just fun for kicking back and violently dismembering everything that moves – Doom is that game.
Sure the story isn’t all that deep and for some of the more hardened horror fans it’s probably as scary as your friend dressing up this halloween as a slutty mongoose, but Doom has enough monsters, creativity and atmospheric levels to keep your adrenaline pumping until the credits roll. Not a survival horror by any leap of the imagination, but certainly an action horror that’s best enjoyed with the lights out and the volume up.
3. Until Dawn (PS4)
It’s a shame that Until Dawn is only exclusive to PS4 as there are a lot of Steam and X-Box players that would get a kick out of this. However, depending on your choices the game doesn’t last all that long and you could easily arrange a night with friends getting through this game in one sitting.
The graphics are crisp and play a key role in the game’s atmosphere, the acting is corny but fun to witness, and it’s evident Supermassive Games penned one of the best love letters to the horror movies of old.
For those looking for a more classic horror narrative that star stereotypical teenagers alone in the woods running from any evil that lurks within, but don’t mind casual gameplay that has QTE’s, dialogue options and the odd collectable scattered around as its dominant mechanics, Until Dawn is the game for you.
2. Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
Once a upon a time, Japan were the kings of the horror genre in video games and leading the charge was Konami, with Capcom not far behind. Despite being business rivals they cannot deny that in the 1980’s, 90’s and 00’s they built a legacy of quality horror games.
Capcom brought Sweet Home to the table, a Nintendo Famicom title and honourable mention to this list that is quickly gaining a cult audience thanks to emulators and tireless work from translating teams in the west, however Konami clinches the number two spot on this list with it’s legendary Castlevania titles.
We can scoff at the 16-bit era graphics, or the small fact that this game is rapidly reaching its 30th anniversary, we can even scoff that this is technically a remake of the original NES title, but before we had graphics to make horror games what they are today, we had the simplicity of Castlevania where most of the horror was in our imaginations, and we were grateful. Running around a castle of assorted horrors, fighting ghouls, bats and Dracula himself, Castlevania deserves your time this Halloween for those who are looking for something a little more old school.
1. Resident Evil 2 (PS1)
Let’s be honest, could there really be any other game? For many gamers this is the godfather of Halloween games, an indelible mark on horror games past and a modern influence on the genre for years to come. Resident Evil 2 has been duplicated many times but never will be replicated. Resident Evil 2 is getting a HD remake at some point, but until then we have the original and best installment of the franchise on the PS1 for us to play over and over again until we are mindless zombies ourselves.
I make it a habit to play this game around this time of year and I can see why this is considered by many a trendsetter. Its unique and tense atmosphere, the puzzles and the anxious moments of preserving ammo whilst running away from hordes of the undead, still gives me the chills that I first discovered when I played a demo to this game at the tender age of nine.
Resident Evil has had its fair share of ups and downs during its history, however, many fans will agree we got arguably one of the most influential games of the past 20 years out of Capcom, let alone one of the best games to play for Halloween.