As Halloween approaches, you may be looking for a few good video games to play, alone or with friends. There are quite a few frightening games available, ranging from haunted house simulators to cinematic games with creepy atmosphere and compelling stories as good as any movie. Presented here, is a list of games that succeed in providing chills and thrills; any of which should help get you in the Halloween spirit.
Silent Hill: Homecoming – Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
The latest in this venerated series actually has one of the more interesting plots to be found in any of the Silent Hill games. You play the role of Alex Shepard, a war veteran returning to his home town of Shepard’s Glen. Alex finds the town nearly deserted, his mother in a catatonic state and at night, the town transforms into a dark and twisted version of itself while terrifying creatures crawl out of the darkness. Needless to say, things are not what they seem and the town hides a dark secret which Alex’s family is deeply involved in.
The entire game immerses you in an oppressive atmosphere, and the feeling that something will attack you from the shadows at any moment constantly hangs over your head. The story takes the player through some genuinely emotional moments forcing you to make a few gut wrenching decisions that affect the ending you see upon completing the game. The game is not shy with the gore either. There are a few horrifying scenes to rival the best horror movies out there.
As more is revealed and the truth comes to light the player feels a mounting feeling of hopelessness and despair rarely found in horror video games. This is a tense, scary experience that will also satisfy you with a well developed narrative.
Castlevania Symphony of the Night – Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network
This game isn’t really scary but what it does have is a large, gothic castle with sprawling corridors for you to explore and every monster ever associated with Halloween for you to slay. As Alucad, the son of Dracula, you set out to traverse the huge castle, eventually confronting and destroying Dracula himself. This instalment of the franchise introduced an open-world game play style that encouraged exploration and RPG elements. Alucard gains experience from kills, unlocks new powers and acquires gear he can equip that modify his stats.
About the only thing you might find to complain about is that the game can be quite difficult, especially in the boss battles, but the rewards more than make up for this. Considered a classic game and a benchmark of the series; beautifully rendered environments, detailed sprites and a gorgeous soundtrack all come together to create the ultimate 2D, platformer.
Limbo – Xbox Live Arcade
Rarely does a game transcend its form as interactive entertainment to become a work of art, but Limbo is one of those games. A 2D sidescroller, the game is presented in a wonderful black and white art style reminiscent of silent films of the German expressionist era. You control a little boy who is searching for his sister in a nightmarish world filled with giant spider-like creatures and deadly booby traps. With no real soundtrack, the game uses ambient sound to add to the dreamlike, surreal tone of the game.
Gameplay consists of solving increasingly more complex environmental puzzles to proceed to the next area. Death comes quick and is often gruesome but the game is never frustrating because you respawn right before the moment of your demise. Disturbing and thought provoking, Limbo is a modern classic that should not be missed.
Ju-on: the Grudge – Wii
Billed as a “haunted house simulator” this game pits you against the spooky girl and little ghost boy who howls like a cat from the Japanese version of the movie. You play in first person using the Wii controller to aim your flashlight and walk (slowly) through several, spooky locations such as an old factory and abandoned hospital. The game has some serious issues such as dated graphics and a small zone in which the game registers the controller. Move the Wiimote outside this zone and the flashlight will get stuck on the edge of the screen and your character will spin around until you can get the controller pointed at the sweet spot again.
These issues aside, the game offers some good startles and will make you jump out of your seat on numerous occasions. As a fun extra the option is available for a second player to use another controller to initiate various sound and animation combs in an attempt to scare the player controlling the main character. At the end the game rates your performance on a “scare meter” based on how much you jumped during the game. Good fun for couples.
House of the Dead: Overkill – Wii
If you prefer some laughter with your horror you might want to check this game out. This rail shooter is a perfect match for the Wii’s motion controller. You can play the main game alone or with a friend and a host of mini-games are included for up to four players making this a good choice for parties. The game is presented in the style of old Grindhouse horror movies, beginning each level with a hilarious spoof of those old movie trailers. Players step into the shoes of Special Agent G and Detective Isaac Washington. Together they try to take down the evil crime lord Papa Caeser but must fight through the zombie horde Caeser has unleashed upon Bayou City.
Laugh out loud dialog and over the top violence make this a good choice for those who are not easily offended.
Resident Evil 4 – Wii, PC, Gamecube, Playstation 2
Although Resident Evil 5 is out for the newer consoles, it really cannot compare to its predecessor. Resident Evil 4 is superior in terms of being suspenseful and actually causing the player to feel fear. Its crazy plot about a scheme to control the world through mind-controlling, parasitic creatures called Las Plagas takes a back seat to the intense action and creepy environments. Nothing raises the hair on the back of your neck like being surrounded by a horde of assimilated villagers, wielding axes and mumbling in Spanish when you only have three shotgun shells left.
You might consider Resident Evil 5 as an alternative. It has improved graphics and is an intense game but it lacks the ability to really creep the player out. In all honestly the Resident Evil series has been replaced by another game in terms of offering a pure, all-out terrifying game experience.
Dead Space – Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Developer EA Redwood Shores took a real chance in forsaking the typical horror cliches to create a science fiction themed game. Many thought that a game set on a giant spaceship would not be very scary. They we’re wrong. Its science fiction setting turned out to be Dead Space’s strongest suit. The hulking mining vessel Ishimura is a masterstroke of brilliant design. The ship’s empty corridors and ambient creaks and moans make her a character unto herself. The game’s story about a form of alien DNA that reanimate dead tissue, transforming it into new and horrifying shapes, is a wholly original take on the zombie apocalypse.
Breathing fresh life into a tired genre, Dead Space has a more chills, jump out of your seat moments and terrifying alien monsters that you can shake a stick at. The sound of an alien’s claws scratching in a ventilation duct never fails to send a shiver down your spine. This is the most highly recommended out of all the game on this list.