It's once again that time of year where people dress up in silly costumes, eat lots of candy, and try to scare away the evil spirits (while trying to scare the crap out of each other along the way). For those going Trick-Or-Treating, especially the younger among us, it's dangerous to go alone, so bring some friends. But if you're not the Trick-Or-Treating type, and you're looking for something a little spookier to keep you company this Halloween, here are five things that should do the job!
With his darling franchise gravitating further and further from its horror roots, Shinji Mikami broke away from Capcom to work on a successor to Resident Evil 4, one of the most beloved games in the medium. While that game, The Evil Within, was released to only middling reviews, it did manage to inject new life into the delicate balance of horror and action that was being forgotten in the Resident Evil
series. Ultimately, various aspects of the game were hit or miss depending on the player, but it is undeniably one of the most artistically horrific games of recent years.
As you explore a psychiatric hospital for clues on an unethical corporation, you are hunted by the mutilated inmates who ransacked the asylum. Outlast's premise is not one of the most novel ever, but it manages to capture the tense helplessness found in many horror cinema greats. With only a camcorder and some basic parkour skills, finding out what's going on and coming out the other side isn't going to be easy. Just a tip: when going through hell, keep going. You don't want to hide in that locker for too long.
Dead Rising's Frank West makes sure you know that he's a war-time journalist, so he knows how to handle just about anything that gets thrown at him. This is good, because a zombie outbreak in a suburban shopping mall is unlike anything else in games to this day. The game's willingness to embrace the tropes and silliness typical of B-movie horror flicks makes for a goofy trip revolving around hysterical psychopaths, intentionally cheesy horror movie victims, and the use of common shopping mall items as tools for fighting against the undead. Make sure to get your camera ready, because Frank's self-aware foray into suburban consumer culture is nothing short of FAAAANTASTIC.
Did you know he covered wars? I didn't know! Did you know?
5. Gears of War
Gears of War is not simply a war game about fighting an alien race, but rather a war game about fighting the Boogeyman himself, and all that it entails. On Emergence Day, the Locust Horde erupted out of the ground through giant holes, sinking entire cities in the process. After the first 24 hours, roughly 25% of the world's population had been wiped out, and after 14 years, humanity is on the verge of extinction. In a world of scaly humanoids, armor plated berserkers, ten story tall carnivorous spiders, and piranha-like bat swarms thick enough to blot out the moon, only those with a stomach hard enough to look these creatures in the maw while chainsawing them in half are capable of surviving and potentially bringing an entire planet back from the brink of darkness.
You probably don't want to know what's coming through that wall.
4. Costume Quest
The very nature of Halloween is the idea of channeling the power of a costume to combat and scare away the evil spirits lingering in our world. In the interests of saving the world, people (primarily children) dress up in all manner of costumes, from scary to goofy to elegant, and go door-to-door collecting as much candy corn, chocolate, and raisins as they can. Costume Quest manages to capture that spirit (haha) with grand imagination. By swapping into various costumes, children gain new abilities and powers to fight the forces of evil and save the day. While this doesn't fall into the dark, gruesome horror genre that we generally pair with the holiday, it's a perfect game for those looking to have some family friendly Halloween themed fun.
Costumes and Candy? How about a costume that IS candy!?
While Bioshock doesn't lean as heavily into dark rooms and jump scares as other media, the incorporation of body horror, incredible ambience, and chilling monologues makes for an unsettling experience. Many of the most powerful people in Rapture have fallen into psychosis, either through obsession or ceaseless genetic modification, but undeniably through the amassing of incredible power. Incredible performances give weight to otherwise normal people with normal ambitions spiraling into madness. To an extent, the truly horrifying aspects of the game are not the grotesque creatures that these people have become, but the ways in which both the city and its inhabitants descended into ruin.
That was probably the last good man left alive in Rapture.
2. Dead Space
When Dead Space sprung onto the scene, things weren't looking good for horror. The two hallmarks of the genre, Resident Evil and Silent Hill, were on their way down, and little looked fit to take up the mantle of a truly frightening survival horror game. Thankfully, EA nailed it.
Extra limbs are always creepy.
In Dead Space, you play as engineer Isaac Clark aboard the Ishimura, a starship overtaken by an alien contagion that is infesting and reanimating corpses. These Necromorphs then search for new bodies to kill so that they may subsequently be infected. Isaac makes use of a variety of tools turned weapons, including his now iconic plasma cutter to either kill or dismember his enemies in an effort to survive until rescue. If the terror of creeping around a derelict ship with mutated space zombies lurking around every corner waiting to jump on your face isn't enough, there are also subplots involving a religious cult and a whole lot of people going crazy. Happy Maiming!
1. Resident Evil REMake
Resident Evil is one of the forbearers of survival horror. It, along with Silent Hill, launched the genre into the gaming mainstream, and the franchise itself has since gone on to spawn a long running series of movies, making it a multimedia success. What a pleasant surprise then that the remake of the survival horror classic has become masterclass of horror in its own right, improving over the original in almost every way.
You definitely don't want to bump into one of these guys in a dimly lit hallway.
Once again, you are trapped in a haunting mansion in the middle of a wilderness with zombies, mutated dogs, and slightly less terrible voice acting. With limited resources and no idea of what's going on, you must fight these horrors, survive, uncover what's going on, and escape. All of this is easier said than done when everything wants you dead including the very mansion itself.
There are many games that are scarier, more horrific, or more fun to play, but the combination of all of its elements presents a special package that is more than the sum of its parts, and raises it above the rest as a must play game for Halloween.
This list just isn't long enough for all the games we would have liked to talk about, including several iconic games that are no longer easily accessible, so let us know what your favorite Halloween games are. Are there any that you play every year? Let us know in the comments below, and have a happy and safe Halloween!
And try not to get eaten by a zombie!