So it’s that time of year again, and if you’re like me, you love a good scare now and again. With October comes some great things including Pumpkin Spice coffee (Basic Bitches love these), pumpkin ales and most importantly Halloween. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need an excuse to dress up in a costume and paint the town red, Halloween just helps me blend in with you regular folk when I walk down the street on October 31.
That was me last Christmas… I got socks and underwear for the third year in a row.
But if you don’t make horrible body art decisions like me that’s okay, I’m sure there are other things out there that peak our combined interests, such as playing some of the most frightening video games there are, and sleeping with the light on for the rest of the month. Here’s a list of 10 of the scariest video games you can play on the nights leading up to and the very night of All Hallows’ Eve itself, if you’re not too scared that is.
10. Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube/ PS2/ Windows PC/ Wii/ mobile/ iOS/ Zeebo/ Xbox 360/ PS3)
There are few games that can come close to Resident Evil 4 (well at least 9 that I can think of eh?) when it was in its prime, and I still have a soft spot in my heart for this game and what it did to revitalize the Resident Evil franchise (Even if the games are going in a less scary more action focused direction these days.) You play as Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 2 fame as he goes on a mission to find the President of the United States daughter Ashley in the backwoods of Spain and soon finds himself in a situation not so dissimilar to his days as a rookie cop in Raccoon City six years earlier. The game starts out creepy, setting the mood for everything that follows including parasitic body snatchers, Leatherface-esque chainsaw wielding madmen, creepy cult members, and gigantic mutated boss monsters. If you are a fan of the survival horror genre or Resident Evil in general and you haven’t played Resident Evil 4 yet shame on you. Hell, even if you have played it before you should go check this gem out again. Who says kids are the only ones that get sweet treats on Halloween, am I right?
9. Silent Hill 2 (PS2/ Xbox/ Windows PC/ PS3/ Xbox 360)
Silent Hill 2 takes us back to the mysterious titular town of Silent Hill but doesn’t follow the storyline of the original game. In Silent Hill 2 you play as James Sunderland, a man searching for his deceased wife Mary after receiving a letter sent from her with Silent Hill as the return address. James knows that it makes no logical sense, but he wants so desperately to see Mary again that he decides to go to Silent Hill in search of her anyway. This game is truly disturbing on a psychological level that most games never even try to meet that it deserves a place on this list in spite of how old it is. During his search for Mary James comes across many monsters that make his radio emit white noise whenever they get near and strangely hot nurses, as well as one of survival horror fans favorite creatures to date, Pyramid Head. As James gets closer to finding his wife he also gets closer to uncovering the truth about his past and the true nature of Silent Hill. This game is packed with puzzles in true old school survival horror fashion where figuring out what to do is just as important as important as surviving. If you’ve never played this game and can deal with the dated graphics and gameplay, then you owe it to yourself to go back and experience this survival horror diamond in the rough.
8. Condemned: Criminal Origins (Xbox 360/ Windows PC)
Alright now we’re getting into some newer titles with Condemned: Criminal Origins. Taking place in the fictional American city of Metro, players take on the role of Ethan Thomas, a CSI agent with the FBI’s Serial Crimes Unit as he searches for the serial killer called simply “X” that framed him for murder.
This game is unique to the survival horror genre not only by being more focused on melee combat than firearms, but also because of the crime scene investigations that Ethan conducts throughout the game. The game begins with Ethan arriving at a murder scene in an abandoned building with some other officers with crazed criminals surrounding the building.
When the officers decide to split up that’s when the fun begins. Players are forced to repair an electric box to restore power and by doing so Ethan gets electrocuted and loses his weapon. A man lurking in the shadows steals Ethan’s gun, and when he chases the unknown man into a dead end room Ethan’s fellow officers arrive and tell the man to drop the weapon. Before they can shoot they are shot dead with Ethan’s gun, thus framing Ethan before the man pushes him out of a window.
Now your job is to track down the true killer and clear Ethan’s name, but it’s just not so simple. If you’ve heard of this game but never played it or maybe you played the sequel and were put off of trying the original (The sequel is inferior to the original, funny how that works right?) I strongly urge you to reconsider. You’ll be missing out on a truly unique survival horror experience and your life will be much richer for having played it. Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but you should definitely check this game out.
7. Dead Space (PS3/ Xbox 360/ Windows PC)
For my next selection I’d like to talk about space alien zombies (That’s right, I said it). I know that sounds crazy when I type it but that is essentially what the Necromorphs are. In Dead Space players take on the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer responding with his team to a distress signal sent from the USG Ishimura in the year 2058. When your crew arrives at the Ishimura their guidance system malfunctions and they crash into the Ishimura dock. Now seeking other means of transportation, the crew splits up and explores the Ishimura, now completely abandoned except for all the Necromorphs (pictured above).
What happens next involves monsters, a certain red marker, and blood, Lots and lots of blood. Killing the Necromorphs isn’t as simple as shooting them in the head, in order to kill one of these space zombies you must dismember them. That’s right instead of aiming for the head you’ll be hacking off all the limbs of the enemies that you come across. Dead Space is bloody good fun and for once you don’t have to be British to make that statement. If you haven’t ever played this game before you should definitely add it to your bucket list. (Also, this is the second game on the list where a man is searching for his wife. How the fuck do these women keep getting lost, holy Christ!)
6. Dead Space 2 (PS3/ Xbox 360/ Windows PC)
Dead Space 2 is the rare example of a sequel being better than the original. In Dead Space 2 player reprise their role of Isaac Clarke 3 years after the events of the original Dead Space. This game has so much going for it in the first half hour that I dare not give away what is truly a great opening scene in survival horror history. I will however provide you with this Gif so that you’re chomping at the bit to play this game. I don’t really consider it a spoiler because you only see this in the event that you die during this specific part of the game, and I bet you never die in video games right? That’s what I thought, and I expected nothing less than the best.
Although I think this game should have been called “Return of the Alien Space Zombies”, I’m going to give it a pass and still put it on this list because it’s just that damn good. Maybe not as scary as it is gory, but it’s still a good survival horror romp through space and for me, that’s enough to be mentioned here. Go check it out.
5. The Evil Within (PS3/ PS4/ Xbox 360/ Xbox One/ Windows PC)
Released earlier this month, just in time for Halloween, it’s The Evil Within. In this game players take on the role of veteran detective Sebastian Castellanos while he is on his way to investigate the scene of a grisly mass murder. Upon investigating Sebastian is incapacitated by an unknown assailant, and when he regains consciousness he is hanging upside down around other corpses in what appears to be some sort of human butcher shop and this is where things start to heat up. This first encounter requires you to run instead of fight and that is something I really like in survival horror games.
The Evil Within is made by the same guy who helped create the survival horror genre, Shinji Mikami, so you really owe it to yourself to check this game out if you thought Resident Evil stopped being good after the fourth installment (Mikami left Capcom after creating Resident Evil 4). This is a much darker spiritual sequel to Resident Evil 4 that we’ve all been waiting. The best way I can describe it is Resident Evil meets Silent Hill. Fans of either franchise will not be disappointed.
4. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (Windows PC/ OS X/ Linux)
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs isn’t quite as scary as the original, but it still deserves to be on this list nonetheless. The game takes place in London on New Year’s Eve, 1899, but the game features several storylines that are tied to each other. Players take on the role of Oswald Mandus, an extremely rich butcher and business tycoon who awakens, and the game keeps you in the dark about his motives for now and why he has awoken. When Oswald receives a call from “The Engineer” he is told that his two sons Edwin and Enoch have been trapped in the titular “Machine” which Oswald created beneath his house.
With that information Oswald is then tasked with repairing the machine (whoever put the children inside it also sabotaged it so that it would be even more dangerous for them and urgent for Oswald) and saving his two boys.
It should be noted that this game is of the new breed of survival horror games out there. What I mean by that is A Machine for Pigs doesn’t allow you to attack your enemies, thus leaving you to run for your life or manage to stay hidden and sneak past the enemies.
If you’re idea of survival horror is a game like Doom 3 then you should skip this game because it may not tickle your fancy. In fact, it might just piss you off, and that my friend is no good for all parties involved. If you’re not sure about this game watch a few videos on youtube to get the feel for it without dropping the cash, since it’s only available on PC and Mac currently you’ll be unable to try before you buy. (And if you’re really turned off by the thought not being able to defend yourself in games, you might want to stop reading this top 10 list right now.)
3. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Windows PC/ Mac OS X/ Linux/ OnLive)
This is the game for me that started my dark descent (see what I did there?) into the survival horror genre subsect that I like to call the “run for your life” genre. It is also one of the most frightening experiences I’ve ever had in my gaming history (circa 1990).
In Amnesia: The Dark Descent you play as Daniel, a man from London who wakes up in a Brennenburg Castle in Prussia, August 1839. Daniel can’t remember who he is or how he came to be in Prussia. The only thing he can recall is his own name and the fact that something has been hunting him, hence the name of the game, Amnesia. You’ll be running for your life from some of the more grotesque enemies in recent memory, and with a compelling story that you learn more about piece by piece, The Dark Descent is a treat for any survival horror fan that can get over any preconceived hang-ups he or she might have about the “run for your life” sub-genre. If you’ve played it, then you know what I’m talking about, and you know why it’s so high on this list beating critically acclaimed games from franchises such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Dead Space. It’s because nothing makes you feel more helpless as being hunted and not being able to defend yourself. Amnesia is utterly terrifying in the most fantastic way imaginable.
2. Alien Isolation (PS3/ PS4/ Xbox 360/ Xbox One/ Windows PC)
Alien Isolation was released in October like The Evil Within, but unlike The Evil Within this game is truly fear inducing whereas the former would be better described as more gory and frantic. Both games can get you holding your breath and your heart racing, but for me not being able to kill everything in your path and being forced to run scares me a hell of a lot more. They are both great games, but this part of the article is about Alien Isolation damn it.
In Alien Isolation you play as Amanda Ripley, daughter of the main protagonist Ellen Ripley of the 1979 sci-fi horror film Alien from director Ridley Scott. The game takes place 15 years after the events of the original film, and starts when daughter Amanda Ripley is approached by Weyland-Yutani synthetic Christopher Samuels informing her that the flight recorder of the ship that her mother Ellen disappeared on has been recovered by a ship called the Anesidora and was taken back to Sevastopol Station for safe keeping.
Samuels offers Amanda a place on his crew sent to gather the flight recorder in order to provide her with some sense of closure over her mother Ellen’s disappearance. After accepting the offer Amanda, Samuels, and Weyland-Yutani legal exec Nina Taylor travel to Sevastopol Station on their ship, Torrens to recover the device. When they arrive at the station they recognize that it’s damaged and all contact with the crew on board has been lost. When the three of them make the decision to spacewalk over to the station to investigate, all doesn’t go as planned. The EVA line they were using to cross from ship to ship is severed by debris and the three of them are then separated.
Now the player is on his or her own and that’s when the tension really begins. At this point you haven’t even come into contact with another human or synthetic enemy, not to mention a Xenomorph (Alien), but nevertheless being on your own in the dimly lit Sevastopol makes me personally move much slower than I would if I had a crew member or a weapon with me.
I really don’t want to give away the first big encounter because the game is so new that many readers may still want to play and avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that if you can paint a picture in your mind of accepting a job to find out what happened to your missing mother, arriving with your crew to find an abandoned station, trying to board the station in the silence and darkness of space, getting separated from your crew by way of a violent collision only to board the Station you were trying to reach, and then being hunted by every living thing onboard, I think you should start to understand just how helpless this game makes you feel. I dare you to play Alien Isolation alone at night with all the lights off and the volume cranked to 11, then see if you don’t have a fear-filled experience.
(One side note is that this game is pretty difficult. They advise the game is to be experienced on the “hard” difficulty. I tried this, but some of the later encounters proved to be very difficult, and I personally had to turn the difficulty to the “medium” setting, whereas I play The Evil Within on the recommended setting and didn’t have nearly as hard a time surviving. Dammit, I just mentioned The Evil Within again.)
1. Outlast (PS4/ Xbox One/ Windows PC)
And here we are. You probably saw this coming since it wasn’t on the list anywhere else. Amnesia may have been the first game I experienced in the “run for your life” sub-genre, but this is the game that truly terrifies me to the point where I had to stop playing for days because I wasn’t ready for the anxiety that this game was causing me.
In Outlast you’ll play as Miles Upshur, a freelance investigative journalist. When Miles receives an anonymous tip from a source referred to as “Whistleblower” advising him to investigate the Mount Massive Asylum, a remote insane asylum deep in the mountains of Lake County, Colorado that is owned by the Murkoff Corporation who Miles knows of for their other corrupt practices.
When you finally get inside the asylum, you’re greeted with the sight of mutilated corpses and one particular encounter with a SWAT officer who appears to be dead at first, but is actually still alive which gives players their first jump scare. Further investigation of the facility will lead you to the first scripted event that involves a certain muscle bound weirdo, Miles himself, and a short flight from a second floor window. Welcome to Outlast boys and girls.
There are so many factors that make this game extremely terrifying, whether it’s the grainy night vision camera, the batteries you need to make the night vision work properly, the setting being an insane asylum, or all the creeps that are wandering around in the darkness out to murder you indiscriminately this game induces a unique sense of dread that I just don’t experience usually in video games and it’s something that I encourage and have come to expect as a standard in the survival horror genre. I guess this game reminds me of many found footage movies where the characters go investigating something and inevitably bite off more than they can chew, and it genuinely feels like Outlast drops you right into your own horror movie.
It came out in 2013 for PC so if you are into the genre then you probably played this already, but a DLC was released this year as well as the original game releasing on PS4 and Xbox One in 2014, so if you’re a true survival horror fan and own one of the platform that Outlast is offered on, then go test your skills and find out what true survival horror is all about.
So there you have it, my top 10 Scariest video games to play this Halloween, 2014. One last thing I’d like to say to everyone is that fear is subjective as we all should know. Don’t believe me? Then I have one word for you my friend; “Coulrophobia”. That is the “Fear of clowns” and to me being afraid of clowns seems completely odd and extremely foreign to what I consider to be fear inducing.
If you have some other games that you think are far more frightening than the games I’ve listed above, then let me know in the comments section below, and be sure to tell me why you think the game is scary to you personally, trying your best to avoid spoilers for other readers. There’s a good chance that I may have played it, or will play it after reading your suggestions.
How could you not love that face? I wonder if he does private parties.
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