That’s right, folks; Halloween is today! You might not have seen it coming, and your enthusiasm for it will obviously vary, but it’s still the perfect excuse to sit down with some scary good games tonight. Here’s our list of seven titles that we recommend you give a try on this eventful day.
If you don’t have any of these games, worry not! Most of them can be picked up quickly and cheaply! Without further ado, let’s bob for gaming apples!
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
There’s a good reason why Amnesia is often praised as the best horror game of this generation: it just gets the fundamentals of horror right. You’re in a large claustrophobic castle, unarmed and prone to insanity, being hunted by monsters whom you rarely get to see. By utilizing such effective design, especially within its insanity mechanics, it’s become a favorite for horror fan everywhere.
The best place to pick this one up is on Steam. It’s on sale now, so grab it if you haven’t!
Silent Hill 2/3/4
Platforms: PS2, Xbox, PS3, Xbox 360
We’re always more susceptible to being scared when we’re fully immersed in an engaging story, which is why Silent Hill has remained such a beloved series. Team Silent’s efforts with the series have provided gamers with unforgettable tales of love, loss, and redemption set against the disturbing psychological backdrop that is the town of Silent Hill. The second one is touted as the best, but really, 3 and 4 are quite good too.
Hunting down a copy of these games is admittedly a bit hard. You could always try the HD Collection on PS3 and 360 if you’re ok with a few issues.
Resident Evil 1/2/3/Zero
Platforms: PS1,Saturn, Dreamcast, Gamecube, Wii, PSN
Resident Evil 6 was horrific, for sure, but how about playing an entry in the series that was intentionally terrifying? Back in its heyday, the series was known for providing intense scares better than anyone else. A lot of this had to do with the intentionally clunky controls and archaic design, but it’s one of the rare cases where such gameplay inefficiencies actually enhance the theme and give the game an identity. Also, it never hurts to see how the series has evolved (arguably for the worse).
For best results, we recommend playing the remake on Gamecube, though you can grab the first three titles as PS1 Classics on PSN. Gamecube and Wii ports of these titles exist as well, even though they are pricier and harder to find.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Platforms: PS1, Saturn, PSP, PSN
Yes, we know that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night isn’t very scary. So why is it on the list? Well, quite simply, it just feels like a Halloween game. There’s vampires, skeletons, a haunted castle, and pretty much every other Halloween trope in the book. It’s great for getting in the Halloween mode, and it’s a fine sidescroller in its own right. Did we mention how awesome the soundtrack is?
The easiest way to get this game is from PSN. If you can find Dracula X Chronicles for PSP though, it’s a great value considering it also comes with a remake of Rondo of Blood.
Dead Space 1 and 2
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Even though Dead Space has never dealt highly in subtlety, there’s still something really compelling about its atmosphere. Perhaps it’s due to a combination of features, such as the mysterious narrative, freakishly deformed enemies, and sci-fi aesthetic that feels both familiar and foreign at the same time. It’s an excess of blood and jump scares to be sure, but it still gets the job done well.
You can find used copies of both games pretty easily at this point, and they’re cheap to boot.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Platforms: PS1, Dreamcast, PSN, PC (GoG.com)
Ever felt that you were completely cast out from your society and forced to survive in a cruel, unfeeling world? If not, Soul Reaver will give you that experience. The second game in the Legacy of Kain series, it has a terrific story and a dark atmosphere to it that makes it perfect for Halloween. Being an action/adventure title, it might not be high on scares, but it’s still more than thematic enough to fit on our list.
You can find the game on PSN, and it’s also available to download on GoG.com along with the other games in the series.
Isn’t it funny when a freeware game does scares better than most big-budget releases? Slender gets a lot of mileage out of its simple premise thanks to its clever and minimalist design. You’re thrown into a small forest and tasked with finding pages, all the while the slenderman is in hot pursuit. His freakish traits, along with the open-endedness and flexibility of the whole scenario, make this a game that should be played any horror fan worth their salty blood.
The game is absolutely free, and you can get it right here!
There are so many good horror and/or Halloween-themed games out there that we’re bound to miss several good ones. Here’s some that didn’t make the cut but are still worth your time tonight if you decide to play them.
Batman: Arkham Asylum – Not really scary, but a lot of the levels, especially the scarecrow segments, are great in terms of spooky atmosphere
System Shock 2 – It’s one hell of a scary game and a superb RPG; it just doesn’t have all that much to do with Halloween. Still highly recommended.
The Darkness 2 – Demons, darkness, and eating hearts. What’s not to love?
F.E.A.R – When it’s not a straight up shooter, it can be pretty scary.
Dead Rising 2 – There’s more than enough zombies here to call it a “Halloween game.”
Left 4 Dead – A fun zombie shooter, but its focus on co-op diminishes the creep factor somewhat.
Doom 3 – Consider it a great shooter with occasional jump out scares as an added bonus.
Painkiller – A gothic old-school shooter that throws enough enemies at you to keep even the most hardened gamers at bay.
Condemned 1 and 2 – First person brawlers that are incredibly gritty and pants-wettingly atmospheric.
Happy Halloween, single-players! Stay safe, have fun, and eat lots of candy!