Ah Halloween, that magical time of year when we indulge in all things spooky. While the family-friendly side of the holiday is all about creative costumes and candy, plenty of us break out our favourite scary movies and indulge in those. But perhaps an even better way to get your thrills this Halloween is to play through a horror game. Survival horror, in particular, can be notoriously intense (if done correctly) and is meant for the most courageous players. Or people that are just feeling particularly masochistic. In the spirit of the holiday, here are some games that I’d recommend playing this Halloween if you’re in the mood for a good scare.
Perhaps the most fun I’ve had playing a horror game, Until Dawn is an interactive horror flick in the best way possible. It’s campy, it’s violent, and best of all it’s intensely scary. You control eight different characters, each with a different role and important decisions that play into a larger narrative. Characters can die quickly, and the story will continue without them and have enormous consequences on the ending. The pressure to try and keep everyone alive heightens your anxiety as you continuously wonder whether or not you’re making the right choices, making for an excellent horror experience. If you want more on the title, then check out my review here on the blog.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
What better way to scare yourself when you have to get as close as possible to your fears as possible. That’s what you have to do in Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. A Japanese horror game from the PS2-era, Fatal Frame II is considered by many to be one of the scariest games of all time, partial due to its spirit defeating mechanic. You play as twins Mio and Maya Amakura who are trapped in a ghost town trying to find their way back home. The game’s core mechanic involves using an enchanted camera to capture ghosts and spirits on film to defeat them. Easier said than done as the game’s atmosphere, music, and spooks can make it hard for more easily-scared players to keep the camera steady. This game might be harder to find due to its age. But if you have a good PC, you should be able to emulate it with relative ease.
The sequel, Outlast II, is due for release early 2017. What better way to prepare for it and get your scare-fix in than to play the first game, Outlast. You play the role of journalist Miles Upshur, who is attempting to uncover the secrets of Mount Massive Asylum. Of course, when he gets there the crazed inmates have already taken over, and things go wrong very quickly. Outlast isn’t particularly novel in its mechanics or premise, but it is clear that you are not a fighter and most of the time you will be hiding from your enemies. You do have a camcorder that serves as night-vision goggles in the several instances when you’re stuck in the pitch black. Hope you’re not afraid of the dark. It holds its own as far as horror games go and is an excellent choice if you’re looking for thrills.
Resident Evil 4
You won’t have difficulty finding this survival horror classic as Resident Evil 4 has been ported to what seems like every platform under the sun. And with good reason, as the fourth installment in the Resident Evil franchise is considered by many to be the best entry. Leon Kennedy has been tasked with rescuing the president’s daughter who was kidnapped by cultists in Spain. What he finds when he gets there goes way beyond dangerous criminals, as he fights his way through crazed villagers, chainsaw wielding grandmas, giant monsters, and all manners of evil that makes the original Resident Evil zombies look like puppies. There are plenty of moments in RE4 that can feel very intense, especially when you play on harder difficulties.
Silent Hill 2
Considered by many to be the scariest game of all time, Silent Hill 2 is the best entry in famed Silent Hill franchise. A real example of a psychological horror game, you play as James Sunderland who has returned to Silent Hill after getting a letter from his deceased wife. Of course what he finds is a cavalcade of nightmare fuel that even the bravest of players might have trouble getting through. You’ll often feel quite helpless as you’ll have very little to defend yourself with as you face all kinds of disturbing monsters that call Silent Hill their home. The game also has multiple endings, so you’re more than welcome to play again if you’re feeling up to it that is.
P.T. is a unique game because in a way it has become a ghost story of a game. If you’re not aware of the history behind P.T., then let me give you the short version. P.T. was a demo and teaser of Silent Hills, which was supposed to be the next entry in the Silent Hill franchise before it got axed by Konami. It was famous for two reasons. The first was that it was to be directed by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro. The second is that it’s terrifying. I’m not going to say too much about the game as there’s no way to do it justice other than to play it. The problem is that the game isn’t available for download through the PlayStation Store anymore. So unless you’re able to find a friend who has a copy, you’re not going to be able to play this truly spectacular horror title.
These are just a sampling of a genre filled with plenty of games to play not just at Halloween, but anytime you’re feeling like an adrenaline rush. Feel free to make any additional recommendations in the comments.