Right now, it just feels right to be playing games that get under your skin, creep you out, and heighten the senses. Perhaps you’re home alone late in the evening, with the lights out, any outside noise a suggestion you aren’t alone… As we get to the end of October, the horror genre gets extra attention, but with so many great games out there, it can be tough to choose your next experience. That is where we enter the equation! In this feature, I have received the help of 5 others – names you may recognise from Let’s Chat or from their own site in the case of Solorayo (a site you can find here!) – to compile a list of 6 suitably scary games to seek out. Whilst hiding behind the couch, of course! Without further ado, here they are in alphabetical order!
Stephen Brown: To start us off, Carrion is a ‘reverse-horror’ game that allows you to play as an amorphous red tentacle monster, whose main objective is to escape a research facility hidden deep underground. It is your goal to crawl your way through the various natural and man-made areas to reach the exit; along the way, you must fight your way through security and devour humans in order to grow bigger and gain more mass. The facility staff will either run away screaming or attempt to kill you using various weapons that each offer their own challenges, making you adapt quickly to situations in order to survive.
Occasionally, you will discover pieces of yourself in containment vessels holding specific genetic code, giving you access to new abilities and helping you to progress to previously unreachable areas. Said abilities include web slinging, dash attacks, and then my personal favourite, infecting humans to carry out your bidding. You also find various computer systems that trigger playable flashbacks, giving insight into your origins. With comparisons to horror cult classics The Thing and Alien, Carrion allows you to indulge in the role of being a horrifying creature hell-bent on escape. Although you may get lost inside the intricately woven tunnels, the way you act as a monster keeps you hooked until the end. This unique, pixel-style horror game developed by Phobia Game Studio and published by Devolver Digital is a perfect way to enjoy Halloween.
Resident Evil 4
William Robinson: Would it be a horror game list without at least one Resident Evil game? Considering the sheer amount of the series I have played this year, it seems apt for me to pick one. So, why Resident Evil 4 in particular? Well, whilst the remake of Resident Evil 3 is my favourite in the series, I’ve frankly already talked in-depth about it, so for this I am going with 4. At Halloween, the way you can play games is varied – maybe you go it alone, or instead you might prefer bringing in friends to help you through the creepier moments. With the brilliant pace at which Resident Evil 4 blends action and horror, it is suited to either approach. The first in the series to incorporate over-the-shoulder third-person gameplay, the story has Leon S. Kennedy (Paul Mercier) going to Spain in search of Ashley Graham (Carolyn Lawrence), the daughter of the U.S. President – and discovering a larger conspiracy which has led to local residents turning violent and ravenous.
From the dry and unwelcoming starting point of a rustic village, you proceed to explore a range of ominous locations filled with danger, including a labyrinthine castle, vast underground caves, and an unsettling laboratory facility. Introducing an over-the-shoulder perspective allows the player more mobility and firepower, but the level of scares throughout match that: early on, the terrifying sound of a chainsaw revving up is one that spurs urgent response, but for me the Regenerators in that laboratory section are the most haunting. The build-up to first meeting one, discovering experimental treatments that led to their creation, and then finally encountering their hulking acupuncture aesthetic… It still torments me. Resident Evil 4 is cinematic, action-packed, and distinctly scary; a fantastic choice to be playing at this time – or any time – of year.
Silent Hill 2
Jed Harling: The award for the most scared I have ever been playing a game would have to go to P.T. – but since Konami made it impossible for the vast majority of people to even play it anymore, I would have to select its predecessor as my Halloween pick. Team Silent’s Silent Hill 2 is pure nightmare fuel, and the fact that my sister and I somehow managed to get our hands on it and play it as children has definitely not damaged us in any way. It’s often quoted as one of the crowning gems of the PlayStation 2 for countless reasons, and I think all of them are absolutely deserved.
Being the second game in the franchise, you would be mistaken for thinking you might need some prior knowledge to understand what is going on. However, the sequel opts for a far more personal take on the cult, hell-ish town. The plot borrows themes from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment and the game wears its influences on its sleeve; the entirety is a playable visual representation of psychological torture. Answers to the mind-bending world of Silent Hill 2 are held close to the chest, but it gives you enough to piece your own interpretations and theories together. I think a lot of media has aimed to replicate something similar to the achievements of this game, but fallen completely short. I’m often left comparing how the latest horror films make me feel against my first playthrough of Silent Hill 2.
Jordan Senior: Horror isn’t a type of gaming I gravitate towards; yet, Until Dawn is a pleasant surprise and one I definitely recommend whether you’re into the genre or not. Generally, too many horror games either slot into predictable jump scare tactics, or not being scary at all with more of a focus on action elements. Why Until Dawn stands out to me is that not only is it genuinely scary, but it features great writing and compelling characters that really develop over the course of the story. Gameplay wise, it relies on quick time events and player choice as each decision can change the course dramatically. The fear element is amplified even more due to being in control of the characters fates, rather than passively watching on. Aspects such as the “Don’t Move!” feature (which is genius) push the stakes that much higher and create brilliant tension. Moments where this mechanic is used terrified me, as if you make a single mistake, it has massive consequences.
So, the first half of the game, whilst still tense, focuses on establishing the characters and building up the world. It is the second half when things really kick into gear, with unpredictable plot twists and deeper character moments. The fear factor really ramps up in this part of the narrative. Overall, I really love this game; Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit have touched on this style before, and Until Dawn does it the best. My only worry for the future is that it might not be as effective on multiple playthroughs, but it is absolutely amazing nonetheless. Can’t wait to see how Supermassive Games pushes the boundaries in future games!
Solorayo: If you are in the mood for the bizarre sort of horror game, then I recommend you check out a creepy lil’ gem called Year Walk by Swedish game developer Simogo. It will only take around an hour of your gaming time, but dang, that will be quite the nerve-wracking hour! I won’t go too deep into the game’s details here (the less you know the more powerful the experience). I can say the game takes place in 19th Century Sweden, and puts you in first-person control of a character undertaking a horrific vision quest of sorts. Be prepared for cryptic scenes, creepy puzzles, jarring audio, and crazy creatures. The art style itself is truly something special to be terrified of!
The coolest part about this game is that it is based on actual Swedish folklore. Årsgång, as they called it back in the day, sent year-walkers off on a solo New Year’s Eve stroll through the dark woods. If the year-walker followed all the ritual rules, they would be spared from all the demons that wanted to kill them in the forest, and be rewarded with visions of the future year. It is worth noting that the developers took the time to include an encyclopedia explaining all the creatures and their role in the ritual. Proof learning can be fun and frightening! There are also some intense mental health topics buried underneath the game’s surface. A secret ending after you beat the game will show you exactly what I mean.
Ashley Harrison: Halloween is genuinely my favourite time of the year, and I love a good horror game to go alongside the atmosphere of spooky season. My recommendation for a horror game to play is the quite frankly massively underrated (in my opinion, at least) Wii U launch title ZombiU (Later ported to other systems as Zombi). Originally announced as a spin-off of Rayman Raving Rabbids under the guise of Killer Freaks From Outer Space, it puts the player in post-apocalyptic London, tasking them with finding a cure for the outbreak. Nothing special for the genre, admittedly, but hey, it’s a good enough premise to work from. What really “makes” the game is its core mechanic of “one bite and you’re dead”, resulting in starting over as a new character, keeping you on your toes. You can use the Wii U GamePad to scan around you, highlighting lurking zombies to help plan out your attack; even with this feature, if you come across a group of zombies, then the tension instantly heightens. You know that a death adds another zombie to that area, and you subsequently having to restart all over again from the last checkpoint you reached.
I am a huge fan of the concept of the added zombie, too – it is literally the zombie of your previous character, and to regain any tools or weapons you had previously, then you have to kill that zombie and reclaim your backpack. As a mechanic, I can’t think of another game which uses it, and that is a huge shame because it works so well with the genre. I will be the first to admit that there are better survival horrors than ZombiU, but given its initial platform of release and the fact that the PlayStation/Xbox/PC ports were never really advertised, I feel it is a game that was unfairly overlooked and deserves a lot more love from people. It goes on sale on PlayStation 4 at least fairly regularly for £3.99, so there is really no excuse not to play it.
There you have it! I hope this myriad of recommendations helps you enjoy your Halloween, whether that be through a well-known series or a release that has had less of a spotlight. Another mention for all of those who contributed to this article; I really appreciate it! Furthermore, you can let us all know if you have played games in this list, or perhaps have your own suggestions, in the comments. Have a great Halloween everyone!