Looking for a gaming thrill this Halloween? Check out these games and see if you make it out alive...
Alien: Isolation: Let’s start with the obvious one, since it’s finally out for the masses to play. Despite some relatively mixed—albeit mostly positive—reviews, everyone seems to agree that it is scary as hell. One need look no further than YouTube sensation PewDiePie to understand the terror that this game can invoke in players, and with good reason. The subject matter is perfect. Take one (or two) of the scariest and most heart-pumping movies of all-time, turn it into a feasible premise for a video game (Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, is out searching for her long lost mom while Ellen is hanging out in cryofreeze aboard the Narcissus), and voila! You’ve got a game for the Alien franchise that actually does the movies proud!
Outlast: Damn, this game is scary. First person “non-shooter” (since you don’t have anything except a camcorder with night-vision) that centers around a journalist’s exploration of the supposedly corrupt Mount Massive insane asylum at night. It doesn’t take long for our protagonist to realize that the rumors about this place are indeed true, and that he needs to make a decision between journalistic integrity and getting the hell out of there. The environment is obviously spooky, the audio and sound effects are perfectly creepy, and the gameplay itself is top notch—especially for a title that released as a freebie on the PS4 in North America. Free or not, this game deserves a playthrough or two, but do yourself a favor and play it with some good headphones if you can…and the lights off.
Resident Evil: The title that gave new meaning to the phrase “survival horror” in gaming. The franchise has become something of a sensation in every sense of the word at this point, from games to movies to books and more, but let us not forget the absolute terror that laid within the very first iteration for the newly introduced PlayStation console in 1996. For the era, the graphics and audio were fantastic, and quirky control issues aside, this was one of the more addictive titles to grab if you were a teenager looking for a (non-alcoholic) late night project. Creator Shinji Mikami tapped into a truly brilliant formula by combining the dark and dreary mansion environment with third person shooter and puzzler elements, with the protagonists of the story—Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine—becoming household names, at least among gamers with any sense of must play titles. While many will justifiably argue that Resident Evil 4, initially an exclusive of the Nintendo Gamecube, is actually the cream of the crop in this franchise, let us not forget the restless nights many of us spent curled up under a blanket in our darkened rooms while trying to figure out how to make it past those lurking zombies in the bathroom stalls and find one more precious typewriter ribbon to save our progress before meeting certain death. Or maybe that was just me.
The Last of Us: I must admit I felt a bit weird at first adding this title to our list of scary games because, truth be told, it doesn’t seem to fit any singular mold for a gaming genre. But I attribute this more to the brilliance of the game itself—perhaps the greatest of the PlayStation 3’s library—than anything else. The fact of the matter is when the underlying premise of a game is to guide a teenaged girl and her protector through a land infested with vicious undead, it’s hard to qualify it as anything other than horror. Or at least suspense. And while I will certainly always remember the beauty that The Last of Us could bestow upon those lucky enough to experience it (seriously, the giraffes), it goes without saying that I had more than my fair share of jumps and screams while trying to avoid clickers and their brethren every step of the way. Now that Joel and Ellie’s tale has been ported over to the next gen PlayStation 4, there really is no reason why any self-respecting gamer should avoid this one. Don’t like being scared? Too bad, play it anyway. And why are you reading this list in the first place, then?
Silent Hill 2: Regarded by many not only as the greatest survival horror title ever, but one of the greatest games of all-time, the introduction of the Silent Hill series onto the wildly popular PlayStation 2 console made some tough guys and girls quiver as they made their way through…Silent Hill (the town, not the game. Actually, both. Carry on.). While the game isn’t exactly a direct sequel to the original, the creep factor nonetheless remains at a 10 out of 10 as protagonist James Sunderland visits the town in response to a letter sent to him by his deceased wife, Maria. From there, all hell breaks loose, but not in the conventional, guns blazing at zombies scenario that many of us have come to expect from games like these. In contrast, the true brilliance of Silent Hill 2 rests in its ability to affect the mind of the player by constantly forcing one to question whether what is being seen is “real.” The game has been described as a tribute to the films of David Lynch, and this strikes me as pretty spot on. One consequence of this is, like with most Lynch films, the game can be somewhat polarizing for those who enjoy the more mindless experiences of hack and slash titles (Diablo) and traditional shooters (Call of Duty, Battlefield). This is in no way a knock on those games, as they undoubtedly have their respective places held tight within the modern video game lexicon, but there is something unique and special about the psychological warfare that takes place from start to finish in Silent Hill 2. Think this might be your cup of tea? Give it a whirl—it’s been remastered and added to updated collections more times than I cried during my first playthrough.