Horror games are very reliant on world building, so we were wondering what pre-existing game franchises should branch out and make a horror game in their pre-built worlds. Here’s our list of game franchises that really should have a horror spin-off.
1. Harvest Moon
Harvest Moon is not the first thing you’d have expected to see on this list, I’ll wager, but it’s here with good reason. Recently, a game doing almost exactly what I am proposing was released, in Lazy Bear Games’ Graveyard Keeper. There is so much potential in “Creepy Farm” though, that I think a full Harvest Moon game would be the perfect place for it. Take the cutesy art style and just add a little darkness. Put the creepy focus on the villagers - maybe mix the traditional monsters in with some more unusual horror. The game names itself too, with the obvious title being Harvest Blood Moon.
2. Mirror’s Edge
Mirror’s Edge is literally a game about running quickly, usually towards something but occasionally away from something. Now, imagine an entire game spent running away from something that always just a step behind. Swap out the bright colour palette for something darker, and create a monster that can give chase - maybe some sort of spider. You’ll then have the best parts of Mirror’s Edge: the free-running and the level design, with none of the bad parts: the combat.
The original Half-Life is 20 years old now, and a lot of people forget that it had two expansions where you didn’t play as Gordon Freeman. They were made by Gearbox, and they weren’t as good as the original, but they open up the possibilities. Alien invasions are scary, and the headcrabs are one of gaming’s scariest enemies, so why not make a survival horror game set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2? Playing as a random civilian, you need to survive the events of the Combine invasion through any means necessary. You can even throw in some cameos from the series, like Barney Calhoun or Adrian Shephard could make his return.
Plus, I just wanted an excuse to put Half-Life in third place on a list.
4. Rainbow Six
This is an easy one, because the formula translates to horror so easily. You control a member of an elite military counter-terrorist squad, and can plan the team’s infiltration into various different locations. The twist comes from what you’ll be hunting - for instead of terrorists, each level will consist of a terrifying creature. I’m thinking Tom Clancy meets H.P. Lovecraft meets Stephen King. Siege even did something like this with Outbreak, a series of PvE missions for small groups to kill zombies in. Added points for an asymmetrical multiplayer mode where someone gets to be the monster/s, and for there to be a detailed squad system with permadeath so your tactics really matter.
On the subject of squad tactics, XCOM is in the same position as Rainbow Six - the game is already almost perfect for horror, it just needs a few tweaks. The solution I have is to remove weapons from the game. Play as a group of civilians who need to survive long enough for XCOM forces to save them, using the same turn based mechanics but stepping the creepiness up several levels. Being mostly unable to defend themselves adds a lot of new tension, and increasing the fog of war to keep the alien’s movements as hidden as possible will only make the experience scarier. It would probably end up being shorter than a normal XCOM campaign, but guiding a small group of survivors from safe house to safe house, looking for a way to call out for military help, is a great way to maximise the story potential XCOM has.
So that’s our list of franchises that should have a horror spin-off. What do you think of our list? Did we leave any obvious ones out? Let us know in the comments below.