Halloween is upon us, and, for gamers, that can only mean one thing: It’s time to play (or replay) some amazing horror-based games. Video games have become just as much of a Halloween tradition as scary movies, haunted houses, and pumpkin patches. Every year, we feel an itch to turn the lights off, turn on our consoles, and willingly subject ourselves to ridiculously scary and stressful scenarios (or maybe it’s just me). No matter what the reason, if you’re looking for some great games to play this Halloween, I’ve got some suggestions for you.
1. Alien: Isolation
Alien: Isolation received mixed reviews when it launched, but it’s an awesome experience that’ll stay in your mind long after you’ve finished the main story mode. Set fifteen years after the events of Alien, Isolation follows Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, who is investigating her mother’s disappearance. Armed with a motion detector, you begin your journey into what is basically a haunted house in space. Isolation is perfect for late-night Halloween gaming, and using the Kinect sensor will alert your enemies to every sound and move you make in real life, which provides one of the most delightfully stressful gaming experiences available. If you haven’t already checked this one out, now is the perfect time – SEGA has released Alien: Isolation – The Collection, which includes the full game as well as all of its DLC, two standalone missions, and five mission packs that beef up the Survivor and Salvage modes with playable characters, challenges, and maps. You can pick it up for just $39.99, or you can grab the standard game for $29.99.
Bioshock isn’t always considered a horror game, but it deserves to be on this list anyway. The underwater city of Rapture is home to some of the creepiest, craziest, and most deadly enemies that video games have to offer. Not until you’ve seen a small girl suck a DNA-altering drug out of a corpse while being guarded by a enormous creature with a drill for a hand will you be able to understand how crazy this game is. I mean, there’s a guy who makes art out of dead bodies while screaming about the voices in his head. It doesn’t get much more strange than that. But that’s what makes this game great. Along with one of the best stories ever told in a game, Bioshock’s dark cast and disturbing setting make this not only a great game for halloween, but one of the greatest video games of all time.
3. The Evil Within
When Shinji Mikami is directing a game, you know it’s going to be amazing. The father of survival horror and the genius behind Resident Evil 4 makes a stunning return to gaming in the form of The Evil Within (or Psycho Break if you’re in Japan). You play as Detective Sebastian Castellanos, who is knocked out while investigating a crime scene. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a world full of horrifying creatures and cringe-inducing delusions. With awesome gameplay, a great story, and a pretty cool set of DLC, The Evil Within is definitely worth your time and money, and it’s a perfect fit for gaming on Halloween. Turn the lights down, the difficulty up, and get ready for an epic experience.
4. Condemned: Criminal Origins
Condemned: Criminal Origins is a game that’s considered a modern horror classic. Equal parts crime thriller and insanely scary horror game, Condemned is one of the most horrifying games around. The game also pulls off the first-person perspective very well, with vision getting blurred and bloody when Agent Thomas is injured and finishing moves so brutal that they might make you want to look away. Though the story starts out as a run-of-the-mill crime drama, things quickly escalate to a crazy horror game that has to be played to be believed.
5. Resident Evil: Revelations
Now I know people that will say that Resident Evil 4 deserved this space more than Resident Evil: Revelations, but Revelations is a personal favorite of mine for many reasons. The story is great and the environment has so many tight spaces and dark shadows that the player is constantly checking behind their back and feeling the claustrophobic anxiety and anticipation that makes for great scares. While you can now play Revelations on Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U, the real experience lives on the 3DS (it’s even better on the New Nintendo 3DS), where the ingenious control scheme and gripping 3D graphics make this one of the best Resident Evil games ever made, and certainly the best Resident Evil game for handheld consoles. If you’re not a 3DS owner, you can try out Resident Evil: Revelations 2, which has an entertaining and spooky episodic story as well as an incredibly addicting raid mode.
ZombiU is, in my opinion, the most unique zombie-slaying video game experience currently available. It’s also the game on the list that (I assume) the fewest amount of people have actually played. Not only does this game use the Wii U gamepad in a way that actually justifies its existence, but ZombiU also has a permadeath system that makes every encounter extremely stressful. If you die, you become a zombie and start over as another character. Do you want your equipment back? Well, you can get it – but only if you hunt down your previous character (who is now a bloodthirsty zombie) and slay them. It could have been done in a way that’s more obnoxious than fun, but ZombiU absolutely nails it. The creepy environments and detailed character models add to the already horrific concept, and any horror-loving Wii U owner should be playing ZombiU this weekend, if only to remind themselves of how good it actually is.
7. Corpse Party: Blood Drive
Corpse Party is an awesome series that deserves a much wider audience than it currently has in North America. Blood Drive is the third entry in the visual novel / survival horror / adventure series, and it’s easily the most immersive and best-looking Corpse Party game yet. Blood Drive directly follows the previous game, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows. In the wake of destruction and death caused by dark, demonic magic, you’ll experience an emotional, scary, and surprisingly gory adventure that ends up being the best Vita horror game this year (though Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls comes close – see our review here), and a must-play for Halloween.
8. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is a blend of psychological horror and point-and-click adventure that was released in 1995. Based on Harlan Ellison’s story (read it here), I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream throws you into a world where a computer has destroyed all of humanity except for five people – and those people have been being tortured for over a century. You’ll set out to prove that humanity is better than the machine, guiding each character through challenges that deal with intense topics and often have shocking consequences. This might not be a game with the jump-scares that you’ve come to expect from the horror genre, but this is an experience that you will never forget. It’s indisputably a masterpiece, and if you choose to just play a few games on this list, be sure to make this one of them.
9. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is considered by many to be the best survival horror game of all time, and for good reason – it’s absolutely horrifying. There are no weapons in Amnesia, so players must literally run for their lives if spotted by a monster. The monsters are brutal and relentless, quickly tearing down doors and throwing obstacles aside in an attempt to catch their prey – you. To make things even crazier, players have to keep their eye on their sanity meter, which is reduced by spending time in the dark or witnessing traumatizing events. Amnesia also features an excellent story, which is told beautifully through notes and visions of events that have happened in the gloomy castle that serves as the game’s setting. If you’re looking for the best possible horror game to play this halloween, then Amnesia: The Dark Descent is for you. If you like it, you can go on to play Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, its sequel, and SOMA, a new survival-horror adventure that pushes the boundaries of the genre.
Outlast has received a lot of attention since its launch, mostly from videos of people playing it in the dark and freaking out. The hype has died down just a bit since last year, but there’s no doubt that this is still a must-play. Outlast is a psychological horror game that puts the player in the shoes of Miles Upshur, a freelance journalist investigating an insane asylum. Upshur is incapable of combat, so much of the game revolves around escaping from enemies. Memorable characters, deeply unsettling scenes, and surprisingly thoughtful religious and mythological imagery populate the asylum, and the adventure is thoroughly satisfying, even if the ending strays from already-established themes a bit. With a smooth parkour-style movement system, making your way through a horrifying asylum has never been more fun. Now on Xbox One and with a cheap but awesome DLC offering (Whistleblower), there has never been a better time to dive into Outlast.
11. Until Dawn
Until Dawn is a PlayStation 4 exclusive that is more of an interactive horror film than a visual novel. Like the DS horror puzzle game Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (which you should also play, because it’s amazing), you can’t see all that Until Dawn has to offer unless you play through the game more than once – don’t worry, though, because an average playthrough lasts around ten hours. Every decision you make has an impact on the fate of the characters, and the way that Until Dawn plays with classic horror movie tropes is really entertaining. There are some great scary moments in Until Dawn, and it’s definitely a unique PS4 experience that shouldn’t be ignored. This is another great choice for Halloween gaming.
12. Slender: The Arrival
Finally, we arrive at the end of the list – and the game that I was most hesitant about including. I ended up putting it in because, despite whether you love or hate Slender Man, Arrival can be a damn scary game, and that’s what this list is all about. Slender Man has quickly become a major figure in modern horror, and the lore connected to him is continually evolving – it’s a folk tale that just keeps getting creepier and creepier. Slender: The Eight Pages was creepy, and Haunt was even scarier, but Arrival makes those games look like children’s books. Arrival is Slender Man mythology at its best, with a beautiful environment haunted by a flying nightmare who seems unescapable. If you don’t feel like shelling out money for Arrival, you can play The Eight Pages or Haunt for free. No matter which one you choose, you’ll definitely get a good jump-scare or two out of it, so if that’s what you’re looking for, the Slender Man games will deliver.
Honorable Mention: Left 4 Dead 2
Left 4 Dead 2 is a fun, fast-paced first person shooter that throws the player in front of vicious hordes of hungry zombies. It’s dark, bloody, and incredibly fun to play. There isn’t much of a story, but that’s not what Left 4 Dead is about – it’s about killing as many zombies as you can with the best weapons you can find. What really makes this game shine is its teamwork-based gameplay. If you’re looking to blast your way through a ridiculous amount of zombies with some friends, this is the game for you. Left 4 Dead 2 will also offer some good scares, particularly when you find yourself out of ammo, separated from your team, and surrounded by zombies. The reason why Left 4 Dead 2 appears here as an honorable mention is because it’s not particularly scary – it’s just a great horror-infused multiplayer game that has earned its spot at many a Halloween party.
There are many more games that could have been listed (Dead Space, Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, and Manhunt, just to name a few) but these are the ones that came to mind when I started thinking about great games for Halloween. What do you think? Which games will you be playing this Halloween? Are there any other Halloween traditions you want to share with us? Sound off in the comments and keep checking back with Load The Game for more awesome stuff.