It’s finally October, ladies and gentlemen. My favourite month of the year due to the spookiness of everything. Scary movies, jack-o-lanterns, haunted corn mazes, and best of all, horror games. Horror games are so incredibly different and more interactive than just watching Night of The Living Dead or Halloween. The players gets to choose how to survive, where to proceed and just other little things that you would shout at a movie, like “don’t go down that hallway”. Many would even agree that these horror games are more scary than their movie counterparts. There are a lot of things that make a horror game great; a sense of dread, scary monsters, survival elements, and mystery are a few examples. To really get into the spirit of October and Halloween, we thought we’d talk about some horror games that are a must play during this season. And trust me, there are a lot, but for the sake of time, we will narrow it down to just a few. Our requirements are a great atmosphere, lots of spooks/creeps and a lot of mystery. Now let’s discuss.
Resident Evil REmake
Resident Evil is the game franchise that coined the term “survival horror”. There are many games in this franchise that deserve to be on this list but we love the game that started it all. Just as a reference, we are talking about the remake of the first Resident Evil game that you can get for the Gamecube, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 & 4. At the beginning, you get a choice of who to play as, Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, two members of the Racoon City STARS Unit Alpha Team. The Alpha Team is sent to the Arkley Mountains to search for the previous Bravo Team who went to go investigate mysterious murders. As soon as Alpha team arrives, they’re chased into the nearby Mansion by mutated dogs. Depending on who you play as, the game differs quite a bit. If you play as Jill, you get more item slots, a lock pick to open certain doors, but has lower health than Chris. And Chris gets two less item slots, no lockpick, but he has more health. Chris is basically hard mode.
Thankfully, the Spencer Mansion is the perfect place for a horror game. Perhaps the best thing about this spooky mansion is the way the game is presented with fixed camera angles. Unlike most 3D games, the player cannot control the camera in any means, which is so perfect for a game where limited or fixed vision can create a sense of unknown and dread. Imagine not knowing what’s around a corner because the camera won’t let you? Or running down a hallway that you can only see half of and not knowing what is chasing you? If just the idea of this doesn’t scare you, I think you’re a liar. Resident Evil implements its survival mechanics in the best way a horror game can; limited resources. Getting that nice shiny shotgun is a lot more helpful, but good luck trying to find lots of ammo. Stuck in an area with no means of healing yourself? Have fun trying to run back to your inventory box. The game also doesn’t just let you save your game whenever you want, you get a limited amount that you may need to conserve if you don’t play for long periods of time. The game can be generous with some of its items. It still adds a level of stress, but also makes it more fun.
The last thing I’d like to mention about this game is the atmosphere. Atmosphere is the bread and butter of horror games. I, like many other people, sometimes have a hard time even describing what atmosphere is or what it feels like. To me, atmosphere is a general feeling the player has when playing the game, or the emotions you feel when thinking about the game. Some games may have a happy atmosphere whereas Resident Evil has a real feeling or dread and loneliness but at the same time, you eerily don’t feel alone. From the time you step foot in the foyer, the Spencer Mansion feels like it’s actively working against you. Even when you know you’re 100% safe in the save room, the low howling theme makes you feel incredibly uneasy and I love it. Jill, Chris, Wesker, Barry, and Rebecca may be stuck in this house together, but the fact that you barely see them, and that you know there is a traitor amongst you, makes you feel like you’re never truly alone, to give you a feeling of uneasiness. Because of this Resident Evil does what some horror games only dream of. If you want to start the Resident Evil franchise, this game is the one I recommend.
Although not exactly a horror game, Bloodborne is the perfect example of a game that incorporates horror elements. I’m not really going to explain the story, but imagine traversing a gothic Victorian London inspired city where everyone and everything is trying to kill. You’re stuck outside on the night of the hunt, and the city is plagued with a terrible disease. I know this is a super condensed and terrible description of the story, but talking about it in detail would be a whole article on its own. As I’ve said before, a good horror game has a good mystery surrounding it and if you have played Bloodborne or any other Souls game then you know that the story is very obscure and is in no way spoon-fed to you. The plot of the game unfolds through methods such as reading item descriptions, talking to NPC’s and a few other obscure ideas. It sounds odd that you have to really search for the story, but it’s also king of cool that it isn’t forced down your throat like most stories. The same thing goes for pretty much everything else in this game; side-quests, finding certain items, and getting even more out of the story, is pretty well hidden depending on your play style. I had a guide open with me every time I played the game because I didn’t want to miss something important.
How does this non horror game deserve a spot on this list? Because there is no happiness in the world of Yarnham. There are no jokes, no one is in a good mood, and nothing good ever happens to anyone. Even the NPC’s seem like they’re on the verge of death. There are very few places in Bloodborne where you are truly safe. Even when you’re in the hunters dream (the place where you level up, change equipment, and save), it just doesn’t feel safe. Even the inanimate doll that comes to life and helps you still gives me an unsettling feeling. There are plenty of times where I think I’m safe and I put my controller down to go to the washroom, only to come back and find out some enemy had found and killed me.
If there is anything that sets this game apart from the rest, it’s the geography, architecture and overall location of the game. The gothic victorian locale is absolutely mad with rich detail and I loved exploring every alleyway of Yarnham. There was always some new foes, or obstacle to face that made every location felt like it was trying to work against the players. But even still, there was so much about the city and its surrounding areas that felt dead; from the skulls everywhere, to dead bodies, people burning, chained up coffins, or just the mumbled cries of enemies that made them seem like they were in so much pain. All of this was made so prevalent because there is a huge absence of music in Bloodborne. Music usually only comes into effect during boss battles, but there being no music during regular hunting, make you so much more aware of all the despair going on around you.
As the night of the hunt grew closer to its end, Yarnham felt more and more like it was on the brink of being wiped out and covered by death. Just like the way the story is told to the player, the world design of places like central Yarnham were made in no intelligent way (besides the intelligent design of the developers). There are so many dead ends, traps made to kill people, many unsafe paths, ledges and pit-falls that shouldn’t be there. It leads to so much uncertainty that makes Bloodborne much more scary and unpredictable.
I implore you to try out Bloodborne if you own a PS4. I put it off for a long time even though all of my peers were telling me to play. Don’t make the same mistake I did, because by the end of it, I was so engrossed that Yarnham felt like a second home to me. Bloodborne is one of the greatest non horror games out there.
Having all the makings of a cult classic, Eternal Darkness was released exclusively for the Gamecube in 2002. It was highly praised by critics but surprisingly didn’t sell well and has thus garnered no sequels, much to our dismay. It has a lot of similarity to past horror games, a deep mystery, tank controls, fixed camera angles, but there is one thing this game is known for that is absolutely brilliant and a complete shame no one has tried to replicate it. Eternal Darkness is probably one of the best examples of psychological horror. The game doesn’t just try to stress you out or scare you like most horror games, Eternal Darkness often breaks the fourth wall in order to mess with you mind. The game has an insanity meter that fills whenever you’re attacked or spotted by monsters, and the more full the bar is, the more strange things will happen to you. The camera angle could distort, flies might appear on your screen, or your character might stop moving as you get a notification that the Gamecube controller was unplugged even though it wasn’t. There is so much more as well; turning up the volume or muting the game, blood dripping from the walls, small environmental changes, and even freezing the game for extended periods of time to try and get the player to hit the restart button.
Could you imagine if a game like this was released for modern consoles? The game could fuck with you in ways that are so creepy; what if the game took you to the main menu but everything was completely empty and all there was is creepy laughing, or getting party invite from your friends to just be put into a party by yourself with someone breathing heavily on the mic. I imagine developers could do a lot with today’s technology, hopefully the eventual spiritual successor, Shadows of the Eternal is made, despite being riddled with controversies and problems. Even still, I think about this game constantly and I wish more people would play it!
This is a game that’s hard enough to play in the day time let alone at night, that’s how unsettling this game is. The premise is pretty simple, a bunch of teenagers go to their friends cottage up in the mountains in the middle of winter, they get extremely drunk and pull a prank on one of the girls which results in her running into a blizzard for some reason. Her sister runs after her, but they soon find out that someone, or something, is after them. They’re chased off a cliff and both die. The next year, all of the friends go back to the cottage, and after realizing that they aren’t alone on this mountain, have to try and survive until dawn.
There are two very special things about this game. One being that it does horror in a way that doesn’t feel cheap. I typically don’t like jump scares in any kind of movie or game, but in Until Dawn, the developers seem to get it right. Jump scares in general are a very cheap way of doing horror because it’s just a loud noise and something popping up at you and will immediately invoke your fight or flight tendencies. It’s easy to do in any type of media, hell, they could probably even do it in radio. But in Until Dawn, it fits the atmosphere and style of the game, since it’s all about making fast paced decisions in order to save your life. Do you try and grab something in order to defend yourself? Or should you run away and pray to god that this thing/person doesn’t catch up to you? Yes there are a few moments of downtime in this game where you might feel safe, but the game really teaches you to keep on your toes and to never expect that you’re totally fine.
The second thing that makes Until Dawn stick out from the rest is the choice based gameplay. In my opinion, games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, only really have an illusion of choice. What does this mean? It means that no matter what you choose, your outcome will be almost exactly the same and so will the ending. The game is saying “look here, your choices are making a big difference”, when in fact, they’re not. This is absolutely not the case with Until Dawn. Every choice you make has the possibility to have huge ramifications either immediately, or later on in the game. You see, Until Dawn is played from the perspective of 8 different teenagers, so something you do with one of them, might affect one of the others somewhere down the line. All of the characters can die as well. By the time the game ends, you can have one person alive, or 4, or all of them. It’s even possible for none of them to live.
In my first playthrough, one of my characters died because I screwed up a quick-time event, and someone didn’t get to her fast enough, while another character died because I chose to not give him a flare and instead made someone else keep it. There are times when many characters finally meet up, and depending on who is alive, scenarios play out very differently and dialogue will be incredibly different. This is what a real choice based game is meant to be; the game actually playing out and ending differently because the choices I made have actual varied consequences. Until Dawn has a lot of other things that I’ve mentioned above, like a good mystery, a chilling atmosphere, and plenty of good spooks, But I didn’t want to just repeat myself on every game.
Sadly Until Dawn is only a PS4 exclusive, so if you don’t own one, you’re out of luck, but if you do, I highly implore you to play this game. If you’re a bit afraid of playing a horror game, this one is great to play with some friends in the room as well. Don’t worry, you just have to try and survive until dawn.
Standing for playable teaser and being revealed at the end that it’s a new Silent Hill game, this demo is easily the scariest thing I have ever played in my god-damn life. P.T showed up on the PlayStation Network on August 12th 2014 without much of an explanation. The player is given no directions on what they’re supposed to do, what their goal is or how they’re supposed achieve those goals. The unnamed protagonist awakens in a room, walks through a door, and enters the now iconic L-shaped corridor and has to solve some pretty terrifying puzzles. This game’s strongest feature is that you have absolutely no idea what to expect going in. Just for the sake of this fact, I’m not really going to go into detail about what makes this game scary, because it would ruin the whole philosophy of it. But to give you an idea, I was at a friend’s house when playing this game for the first time, and it made my literally scream out loud (this was the first and hopefully only time when playing a horror game) so loudly that my friend’s mom came running into the room because she was so worried.
The one glaring problem about this game is the fact that you can’t buy it and play it at a whim. The game was eventually cancelled and the demo was taken off the PlayStation store. The only way you can play it is if you find a PlayStation 4 with it already downloaded, and I’m sure the price of those is incredibly steep. If only Konami didn’t shit all over Hideo Kojima…
That’s our list of games that you should definitely play during this spooky Halloween season. I really hope you enjoyed reading it, and if you haven’t played some of these games, I clearly recommend it! I hope everyone has a very scary and fun filled Halloween season. Let me know what games you like to play during the month of October!