For most students, Halloween is the perfect time to enjoy entertainment designed to scare and thrill us, to churn our stomachs or to just plain creep us out. While there are plenty of movies and television programs this month that try to do just that, the real scares have been happening in new video games. Don’t believe me? Here are a handful of games that have come out recently on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC that will give you the greatest seasonal frights.
This is the first game from Tango Gameworks, a company founded by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. This is return to form from a veteran of the genre. And yet, this is survival-horror paradoxically at its best and worst.
The game gives a powerful sense of dread and a heathy heaping of nausea-inducing gore. Once they start throwing booby traps and completely invisible enemies at you, you will walk into every new room with intense trepidation. You just know that something is going to sneak up on you and you have few ways to prepare for it. Because, no matter how cautious you are you still end up getting killed—a lot. Every room is a new horror that you are compelled to enter.
However, the entire game feels like it was designed with a grocery list of “horror game elements”. If you have played a horror game in the past few years you will recognize a few of the features of The Evil Within. This is especially true for any of you who have played Mikami’s own Resident Evil 4.
Nothing is terribly innovative, but it is masterfully crafted. It draws you in and keeps you wanting more.
A bizarre adventure game that, as the name suggests, puts the player into a never-ending nightmare. With no way to defend yourself, you must explore each grim scenario without getting caught by the creatures who wander the shadowy hallways.
Every time you die or complete a level you jolt awake in your bed as though finally conscious. Yet, you are once again trapped in an even darker and more ghastly nightmare than before.
Mind you, this game is not for the squeamish. Despite its minimalist style, some scenes were so graphic that I still get weird chills running through my arms and back. The art design was clearly inspired by, if not entirely ripped from, Edward Gorey. It delights in the macabre and uses black and white for a very interesting effect. The only colors on the screen come from either gore or from objects you can interact with.
The creator, Matt Gilgenbach, successfully crowd-funded the game back in 2013. The game is an allegory for what it is like living with OCD.
“The mood of the game is so oppressive that walking around almost feels difficult,” said Gilgenbach in an interview with Gamespot. “I am channeling very specific imagery from intrusive thoughts that I’ve suffered from because of my OCD.”
This is a very slow game. But, the sounds, design, and deliberate pacing will give you a powerful sense of unease that makes you feel like you are navigating your own dream. And, when the moments of terror do pop up, they are all the more terrifying for it.
Welcome to high-anxiety: the game. Five Nights at Freddy’s will put you in a state of hypertension and keep you in full-panic mode until you are either killed or complete the level.
Tasked with watching over the facility each night, you are stuck in your office with dwindling power source as your only way to protect yourself from the animatronics that wander the building every night. And they are terrifying.
The whole game is basically about resource management. You are only given so much electricity to use each night. Looking at the camera feed, turning on the lights and even shutting the doors to your office all drain energy. And, if you run out of energy, the power shuts down and you wait helplessly in the dark for something to jump out and grab you. You must carefully plan out how to use the cameras and the lights in order to know when you must shut the doors to keep the critters out.
For $5 on PC and $2.99 on iOS and Android, it is worth every cent. This game will haunt you for years to come.
Whoa, an entry in the Alien franchise that is actually good? Alien: Isolation is all about being trapped alone in space with a creature you cannot hope to overpower. The fear of the random encounters with the xenomorph are tangible enough to make exploration the last thing you want to do, despite it being your objective.
This game is a painstakingly meticulous love-letter to the 1979 film. They perfectly recreated the look and feel of the spaceship from the original movie, with goofy buttons and CRT monitors running old text-based operating systems. Still, the game is absolutely gorgeous, and the fire effects are the best of any game so far. Yes, that does mean you get to wield the flamethrower like in the movies.
The game’s story may not leave much of an impression, but the very first time you have to take cover under a desk as the xenomorph unceremoniously slithers into the room will remind you how horror games are supposed to be made. Waiting in a locker while the alien searches the room is made all the more intense thanks to powerfully effective contextual music cues and the awful sounds coming from the creature itself. Few games give you such a sense of hunter versus hunted as Isolation.
It is a perfect recreation of the intensity and paranoia that made the original film such a hallmark of its genre. It will give you goose bumps.
I mean, it is about a witch, so… that counts, right?
No? You’re right, stupid idea. Never mind.
I have never been this scared in my entire life. Playing P. T., the playable teaser for an upcoming Silent Hill game, is the new gold standard for horror games. Actually, scratch that, this 30-minutes demo transcends its medium as the most terrifying experience across games, film and television.
This project was the brainchild of the legendary game designer Hideo Kojima and directed by Guillermo del Toro. The premise is simple: continue looping through the same hallway solving puzzles until you finally escape. Oh, and you are being stalked by a ghost.
Everything you encounter will make you hate turning that corner again and again. Even though it is a creepy atmosphere, it is also unbelievably beautiful. P. T. has the most stunningly photo-realistic graphics and lighting I have ever seen, even by computer generated movie standards.
P. T. is a masterpiece of horror. Twisted, unsettling, and creepier than anything I have seen before, P. T. is a surprisingly complete package for its tiny runtime and it will haunt you.