Find out what spooktacular games you should be playing…
It’s the most spooktacular time of the year! If we had our way, we’d celebrate Halloween all year round, but the Man won’t let that fly (frankly, we blame the Tories), so we have to make the most of the requisite frights at the end of October.
Regardless of the medium, entertainment is always better during Halloween; there’s few things we look forward to more than a horror movie slumber party at UDS HQ, and we’ve already compiled a playlist of our Halloween Party Anthems.
But one facet of pop-culture we’ve shamefully neglected is video games. Arguably the most effective way to evoke genuine terror, the fact you’re an active participant in proceedings, rather than a passive voyeur makes everything all the more horrifically immersive. From triple-A franchises to indie darlings, you’re bound to find a game to make you pee your pants.
But where should you start? Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite scary games for Halloween, to help you get in the festive mood…
Resident Evil 7: Bioshock (VR)
Capcom’s Resident Evil franchise has set the standard for horror gaming for nearly a quarter of a century. Despite the developers having a couple of misses among their home runs, not only is the series’ legacy more than cemented, but it continues to innovate to provide the biggest spooks for a new generation of gamers.
Nowhere was this more evident than the VR adaptation of the fantastic Resident Evil 7. The latest entry in the series at time of writing, the 2017 title takes Resi back to its survival horror roots, having you wander around a dilapidated plantation in search of your missing wife. It’s not long before you’re being hunted by the house’s malevolent residents, the seemingly unkillable Baker family, who can mutate into horrific monsters. With minimal access to weaponry, you’ll have little choice but to run and hide as you try to unravel the mystery of the house and escape with your life.
Resident Evil games are palm-sweatingly terrifying at the best of times, but the addition of virtual reality amplifies the horror to a different level. Rather than simply controlling your character, you’re suddenly thrust into his shoes; it’s now you who’s peeking around corners, it’s you coming face to face with a rotten corpse while wading through a flooded basement, and it’s you who has to eat entrails at the behest of your macabre hosts. The latter is one of the most affecting moments I’ve experienced in over two decades of gaming; never have I recoiled in disgust with such vociferousness as when the fork of viscera was held up to what felt to be my real lips.
If you manage to play through the game without letting out at least a soft whimper (or stress fart), you’re a braver soul than I.
From one of the scariest games ever made, to one where you yourself play as the monster, The Darkness might not be full of spooks, but damn if it isn’t fun!
Based on the comic series first released in 1992 by Top Cow Productions, this title sees you play the role of Jackie Estacado, a foot soldier for a crooked mafia boss, who wakes up the day after his 21st birthday with more than a hangover. After surviving a hit put out on him by his own employer, he inexplicably sprouts two serpent-like demons out his back who are hungry for human flesh.
Not long after, you’re thrust on an FPS, narrative driven revenge drama, combining compelling gameplay with a nuanced, heart wrenching plot that’ll stick with you long after you finish playing. It also doesn’t hurt that your demon chums are voiced by rock legend Mike Patton, his inhuman tones lending an extra veneer of quality to proceedings.
There was a sequel released in 2012, but with a more cartoonish art style and a less grounded story, it didn’t quite capture the magic of its predecessor. Regardless, the original title is still perfect for getting in the Halloween mood.
Hands down the scariest experience I’ve ever had playing a video game, and that was even with a group of friends in the room! In basic terms, this is a game in which you walk through the same hallway over and over again, exiting through a door at the end of it that also just happens to lead you through the door you initially entered via. Sure, there are many different ways you can read into it; could it be an allegory for being trapped in your own mind and repeating the same event over and over? Could it be a very real Hell that the protagonist has found himself trapped in, doomed to repeat his days forever? Could it really be just a hallway and that the protagonist has selective amnesia about the rest of the house? It’s quite probably all of those options and more.
Of course, that’s not scary in itself. Throw into the mix a radio report on a Father who killed his family, rain and thunder outside, crying and dying fetuses in sinks and a horrific woman called Lisa who has a penchant for golden showers and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an impending nervous breakdown. Genuinely though, Lisa is properly terrifying, and the thought of being trapped in this neverending series of the same hallway knowing that she’s stalking you creates a horrible tension with each repeated traversal.
The great shame of P.T. is knowing that it was only a trailer for a Silent Hills game that we’re never likely to fully see. When a trailer can scare you this much, there’s no telling what the actual game could have done!
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
When Tomothy Baker suggested the idea that our group piece for this month should be about the scariest video games, I was dumbfounded. In truth, I don’t play a lot of scary games. Horror movies I can watch with ease and often find great hilarity in. But in a game, I have to actually play out the scenarios, and that’s a far creepier proposal that I can’t often bring myself to enact when sitting alone in my bedroom. Maybe I’m just a big old chicken, but Hell, even a wolf sneaking up on me in Skyrim can give me a massive fright, leaving me feeling embarrassed even though no one was around to see it.
Picking 2 games for this list therefore was quite difficult, I just don’t have that many options available to me. Hence why neither of my picks are full games, one is a playable teaser trailer, and the other is a DLC. Undead Nightmare is a great game with an excellent horror aesthetic that is placed on top of the already existing world of Red Dead Redemption. Zombies and monsters now inhabit a land that is in a seemingly perpetual night and has an ammo shortage which makes your continued existence that much harder.
In truth, the main reason I was glad Tom picked this topic for us is that I already wrote about Undead Nightmare for the site in much more detail last week. You can read that piece here.
The year is 1960 and you find yourself as the sole survivor of a plane crash. You make your way towards a mysterious lighthouse, which takes you to the tortured underwater world of Rapture. Things are a lot different down here; what once was a thriving underwater metropolis is now a rundown city, paying the price for their greed. You play as Jack, not knowing a lot about yourself or your surroundings as you traverse this nightmare world. You’re guided by a voice named Atlas, who tasks you with stopping Rapture’s seemingly malevolent creator Andrew Ryan. But some things are not what they seem.
While other video games may rely on jump scares and other cheap tactics to get a rise out of the player, Bioshock’s moment to moment gameplay gives off a genuine uneasy vibe. Aside from Jack, the other lead role goes to Rapture itself; the darkness from the city will engulf you, and you’ll be compelled to discover more as you proceed. But with a game this haunting, you want to play Katamari Damacy instead!
Released August 2007, Bioshock is a game that’s still looked upon fondly for it’s revolutionary narrative that’s often imitated, but never replicated. There is still not another game like it 13 years later and Halloween is the perfect time to find out why it’s still so spooky.