We’ve finally reached the most spooktacular time of year. Everyone's ready for the Halloween season, though this year has kind of felt like one long Halloween celebration. There seem to be strange clowns everywhere you look.
If you enjoy horror as much as we do then you've probably conjured up your horror movies marathon list for the month. But for those of you who are gamers, we’ve come up with a list of games to bring some fright that is sure to delight.
This is an obvious choice, and if you've read other top 10 horror game articles, this title is generally toward the top. It deserves top 10 in our hearts for several reasons. You play as Isaac Clarke, the most unlucky space engineer to ever wield a plasma cutter, as he joins a search and rescue team responding to a distress signal from a mining ship. Within, Isaac finds the definition of terror.
The atmosphere is a winning factor for Dead Space, practically being a character in its own right. Much like the ship Nostromo from Alien, the game takes place mostly on the USG Ishimura, a mining vessel anchored above a planet rich in resources. They crack the planet and discover that it's filled to the brim with aliens right out of John Carpenter's The Thing. So of course the ship's crew goes bananas and everything goes wrong. The ship is dark, dank, and all around creepy. Its iconic hallways and hubs will keep you on your toes at all times. The distant sounds the Ishimura makes will have you questioning your sanity as you trek through the scariest space ship in pop culture.
The story takes direct inspiration from films like Alien and The Thing in terms of monster and level design, but that's more of an homage to classic Sci-Fi horror. Beyond that, it really stands out as an original powerhouse in the genre. It deals with themes of grief and loss that is handled intricately throughout the story’s progression. Isaac himself is a great character, despite never speaking a word of dialogue. He just grunts and yells when bad things happen to
When you first watch the trailer or hear someone talking about Until Dawn, the impression is that it's a tropey and cliche horror game about stupid teens that get stuck at a ski lodge and get killed a lot. I mean, that's classic 80's horror, am I right? But what if you could control the destiny of these stupid teens (I can't stress the stupid enough), what if you could also decide who dies, who lives, and what their relationships look like?
Until Dawn is about more than just cliche horror. It starts there, but as the game progresses it becomes so much more. It takes that trope and flips it on its head. Each twist and turn is inventive and more brilliant than the last. Not all is what it seems at this ski lodge. It could have been spun any way really, but the creators decided to honor those old horror movies, then create something unforgettable. At the end of each chapter is a playable scene within a therapist's office. You play as an unknown character in first person perspective as the therapist tries to dig into your psyche and dissect your fears. At first you wonder what this all has to do with the teens at the ski lodge, but it eventually reveals itself in its subtleties. At that point, this game became a piece of art rather than just a fun horror experience (which it still is).
Every time you play the game, there are multiple possibilities for different characters and endings. What does this mean? It means you can screw with people's friendships. It means you can get people to distrust each other. It means you can make a stupid teen walk down a dark hallway that leads to their gruesome, gory, and totally awesome death (wow! What has this game turned me into?). Anyway, get your hands on Until Dawn before the Halloween season ends, or just get it whenever and make it Halloween all year round.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
You play as Ethan Thomas, a pretty cool cop in a pretty not-so-cool city that's running rampant with insane druggies and the criminally insane. Basically Gotham without Batman. In this world, these criminals are infecting every corner of the city and need to be stopped. There's a psychological/supernatural element in the game as well, but I'm gonna leave that for you to see for yourself. This is where the title of the game comes in. You have to go into condemned buildings that are populated by some of the scariest, mentally unstable people you'll ever see in a game. Armed with a pistol, you must search these creepy buildings from top to bottom. The worst, or best, part? These criminals are unpredictable. They run on a fairly intelligent AI system that hides, attacks, and ambushes without warning.
"But what happens when I run out of ammo?" Well let me tell you that for a majority of the game blunt weapons scattered about are all you’ll have to defend yourself. This is why the game is so terrifying. It forces you to get up close and personal with these crazies. And they do not look like normal people. Prepare yourself when playing this game by wearing diapers and cuddling with your favorite blanky, because this terrifying entry in our horror list will deliver the scares relentlessly. Good luck.
Fatal Frame Series
Resident Evil Series
Silent Hill Series
Layers of Fear
If you have other titles that you play during the Halloween season, we'd love to hear about the games that keep you up at night.
By David White