Since I had such a good time writing last years edition of Scare Fest, I decided to ramp up the terror once again this year. I mean, it is October and what would this month be without some horror and fright, right? In an effort to keep some continuity, I’m going to add some of my personal experiences where possible, mainly for comedy purposes as I tend to not do so great with scares.
This list is going to get pretty large, so I’ve managed to contain the nightmare below the break:
Amnesia: The Dark Descent – While I haven’t actually played this PC game, I’ve heard a great number of things about it. People are even saying it’s the scariest game ever made. High praise indeed. It’s a first person perspective adventure/survival game where you play a man named Daniel who awakens in Brennenburg Castle with no memory of how he got there, who he is, or his past. As he explores the castle further, you discover notes left behind, details on what went on at the castle, and also a dark presence that’s out to kill you. In a cool twist, the game features a sanity meter similar to what you found in Eternal Darkness in addition to a traditional health meter. Witness horrifying events, monsters, and even staying in the darkness too long and that meter is going to drop. Let it drop too far and you’ll be noticed more easily by monsters and also start to experience audio and visual hallucinations. My suggestion? Don’t play this one alone or in the dark.
Dark Souls – I’m just now getting into this one and while it doesn’t have traditional scares, it’s got some seriously spooky environments and enemies ranging from skeleton warriors, to titanic demonic bosses. While the primary emotion this game will make you feel is probably anger, you will be filled with dread, tension, and sometimes fear when a trap springs on you or takes you by surprise. I remember during the “tutorial” zone (a term I use VERY lightly), I rounded a corner only to be immediately impaled by an arrow. Obviously, wasn’t expecting it, so I made a loud noise and jumped a bit. In addition to the tense nature of the game, the ambient noises are enough to make you look over your shoulder as well once or twice especially if you’re using a headset.
Dead Space 2 – Everyone’s favorite space engineer returned last January, only this time around, poor Isaac’s mental state had taken a nose dive considering the horrors inflicted upon him during the events of the first game. Instead of being trapped on a desolate mining vessel, you’ve been admitted into a psych ward on a human colony known as The Sprawl, located on Saturn’s biggest moon, Titan. Only thing is, the Necromorphs have made their way here as well and seek to unleash havoc on the space colony. Oh and there’s this little issue with your dead girlfriend haunting your every move as well. While I didn’t find this game quite as scary as the first, I’m not about to deny that it’s still terrifying. Without spoiling anything, there’s a level in the game that had me freaked out the entire time I was in there. It was downright creepy and you could tell the developers really wanted to mess with you the entire time you were there. The sound design and atmosphere present is again top-notch and really pushes the tension and sense of fear. Definitely check it out.
Dead Island – Who doesn’t like tropical vacations? How about when they’re over run with the walking dead. In Dead Island, you play as one of four characters, immune to a plague over taking the resort area and reanimating the corpses of everyone around. While the focus is mainly on melee combat, you’ll still find guns scattered around to take care of the many different types of enemies to be on the lookout for in addition to the slow-moving zombie. You’ll also explore many different locations including sewers, a dense jungle where you can barely see things around you, to a very urban town with narrow passages and side streets. Players will also have access to a flashlight for dark environments and night-time sections of the game.
Shadows of the Damned – A joint project by Suda 51 and Shinji Mikami, the two blended punk rock with psychological action. You play demon hunter, Garcia Hotspur who comes home to find his girlfriend abducted by the Lord of Demons. Not taking kindly to this, you follow him back to the underworld where you battle through the twisted world of demons to get revenge. This third person shooter will throw a lot of mind games at the player as you try to navigate through waves of undead as they try to feast on your flesh. From what I’ve heard, a very good, yet underrated game. It’s certainly worth checking out.
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare – While more of a classic B movie type of horror, you can’t get more Halloween then fighting off the ravenous undead. As an aside to the main game, this alternate version sees a mysterious plague running wild across the frontier. It’s up to John Marston to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it before it truly engulfs his world. In addition to stopping the undead, you’ll have to reclaim towns overrun with the undead, use new weapons like holy water and a torch, and as if they weren’t scary enough, you’ll find undead versions of the local wildlife including bears and cougars. Mythological creatures can also be fought or found including a Unicorn, Chupacabra, Bigfoot, and the four horses of the Apocalypse. There’s nothing quite like riding through the land on a Unicorn as it leaves butterflies and a rainbow in its wake.
Not Scary But Holiday Appropriate:
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Alright, so this one isn’t scary at all, but I had to include it here because it features some of the best creatures and monsters from Halloween. You play Gabriel Belmont, a member of the Brotherhood of Light, on a quest to bring back his murdered wife by acquiring the three parts of the “God Mask”. Through his travels you’ll be fighting werewolves, vampires, goblins, demons, skeletons, and just about every other horror monster. The combat is fast and visceral like a God of War style game, but Lords of Shadow also encourages backtracking and exploration like the other games in the series. There’s also a leveling system and a healthy dose of puzzles to help mix up the gameplay as well.
Batman Arkham Asylum – I get it, you’re scratching your head at this pick. Yes, Batman: Arkham Asylum is more action than horror, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have a few moments. Specifically speaking, just look at the Scarecrow sections of the game. Basically, Jonathan Crane AKA Scarecrow used his toxins on Batman and he’d start to hallucinate or experience things that weren’t really there. The freakiest section came when Batman was investigating the Arkham Asylum morgue (of course right?). Everything appeared to be normal, but as you panned the camera around, Batman’s eyes were glowing, which told you that he was under the influence of the toxins. Up ahead, noises started emanating from the morgue. As you enter the room, a disturbing voice is telling you to run and get out of here. The hatches along the sides of the room where bodies are kept are opening and closing and as you go to leave, you enter the morgue again only this time with body bags on gurneys moving on their own. I won’t spoil what happens next, but it’s extremely unnerving and very cool.
-Surprisingly, I’ve not been hearing good things about Silent Hill: Downpour. I guess the developers knew that as well as they recently delayed it to early next year.
– F.E.A.R. 3, or F.3.A.R. as the truly insane know it as, released this year and apparently it just wasn’t as scary as people wanted. This is truly strange considering they brought on horror expert John Carpenter to help.
What about you? Play any games recently that left you quivering in fear? Have some scary experiences to share? Let me know in the comments below!