So it’s the day before Halloween and you’re in need of some scares, is that it? Well, you’ve come to the right place. For the past couple years I’ve been putting together a list of some great scary games and some of the more freaky game related experiences I’ve had. It’s been a lot of fun reliving them and this year, I’ve decided to include everything all in one place just in case you’ve missed these articles or are new to the site. And, as I’ve said in the past, yes, I am a wuss when it comes to scary things like games and movies. Don’t read this article with the lights off.
Since the list is about as big as Frankenstein’s Monster, I’ve managed to keep the nightmare tucked away past the break. Read on if you dare muahaha!
Dead Space – Dead Space isn’t about the traditional scares and spooks. This third person action/horror game has the creepy environment, gore, and sound effects that make you feel uneasy. You’re an engineer sent aboard a mining vessel in space to figure out why the ship has gone silent. What you discover is that a plague has run its course over the entire ship causing most of the crew on board to become horrific creatures called Necromorphs. Being an engineer, you are not a trained fighter so you’ll have to do what it takes to survive. The atmosphere is perfect as there are tight corridors, horrific creatures, insane/dying people strewn around the ship, and just freaky sounds. This game keeps you on edge through the entire journey.
Fatal Frame – Confession time. I never played this game, but I did watch a good friend of mine play through it in college. Believe me, that was enough. This is one of the most scary games I’ve seen by far. Based around Japanese style horror, you’re exploring a creepy mansion only armed with a camera. Little do you realize that the house is populated by angry spirits. That’s about all I remember from the story, but honestly, it doesn’t matter. The ghosts are some of the most twisted and disturbed things I’ve seen in a game (besides violent games). One minute you’re walking through a garden outside when you see a woman hanging by her neck from a tree. When you eventually come back to that area, the woman is gone, but you’re attacked by a ghost with rope burns on her neck and a angry expression on her face. There are disembodied heads, ghosts that have been twisted and are looking at you upside down, ghosts with their eyes gouged out…..it’s bringing back night terrors just thinking about it. The sound, the environment, and the enemies all make this game truly terrifying. Maybe not having the lights on, didn’t help the situation.
F.E.A.R – F.E.A.R. is another game that likes to keep you off guard. It does have some scary moments but for the most part it likes to play with your head and makes you uneasy about what’s around you. Every now and then I’d see a little girl named Alma just staring at me. She’d vanish soon after. Other times I’d hear something running in the distance but I couldn’t find the source of the noise. There’s plenty of blood here as well and even times where I’d be in this dream like state following an emaciated woman through a burning hospital. The last level made my hair stand on end and I’d have to pause the game often to try to shake the uneasy feeling. This game is more about the creepy environment than about being a shooter.
Eternal Darkness– Here’s a game that completely messed with your head and was proud of the fact that it could. A completely unique experience, Eternal Darkness is a third person action/horror game where in addition to a Life and Magic meter, the main character also gets a Sanity Meter. The more that meter drops, the more weird stuff happens to you while playing. Your character may fall apart limb by limb, walk into a room filled to the brim with enemies, or cause you to hear crying and whispering to name a few. On the more extreme side, you may get a blue screen of death, your tv may appear to turn off, the sound will go mute, and you may even get a message saying your save file has been corrupted. After a few seconds to let it sink in, the game will reveal it to only be a hallucination and the game continues as normal. There are just a ton of these effects and you’ll always be kept guessing as to whats real and what isn’t. Not only that, the hub world setting was just creepy. You’re in this huge mansion and every now and then you’d hear a knock or a phone ringing or even experience the wall bleeding. The game exudes creepiness and keeps you completely on the edge of your seat the whole time. I whole recommend this game because it’s just downright awesome.
Left 4 Dead – Alright, yes, it may not get you going like Silent Hill or Fatal Frame but it does have its moments. This first person shooter is more about campy, B-movie style horror. Though there are still some tense and terrifying moments. Some elements can be scary, like running into a Witch in a dark room. You can hear them crying from a distance but it’s when you come face to face with it that you want to run the other way. I guess it also doesn’t help that they can take you down REALLY quickly. There’s a level in Left 4 Dead 2 where a big rainstorm hits. The freaky part is you can’t see very well or far in front of you. Zombies seemingly come out of no where, leaving you unprepared. The crescendo moments at the end of each chapter also do a good job of intensifying the situation. You have to hold out and wait for a rescue while a seemingly undead zombie horde tries to kill you. Trying to run to safety with an army of zombies in your way will make any situation tense, that’s for sure.
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.
Some Personal Gaming Experiences
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.
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – Any of you remember that damn sewer level from Shadows of the Empire on N64? Hearing those sewer monsters and trying not to get killed by them always freaked me and my cousin out when we were younger. Looking at it now, it’s really no big deal, but it was fun at the time. I think the main thing was that you couldn’t see them above water. Obviously, the N64 couldn’t process or render water anywhere near we can now a days. The texture on top was a brownish green color and all you could hear was the freaky growling noise. Plus, it didn’t help that the actual creatures looked like a freaky octopus thing that wanted to kill you. I’d also like to give a special mention to the Wampas in the Hoth level. For fun we used to release them all in the base and run away. Normally they would do the work for us killing all of the enemies. But it’s always a surprise rounding a corner and running smack dab into one and getting mauled to death.
– Bioshock – I’ve spoken at great length about this game in the past so retread grounds here, but the world of Rapture is freaky enough to warrant a play through. It gives you a creepy and uneasy feeling and also knowing that the remaining populace has mostly lost their minds doesn’t help things. I was exploring a section in the Medical Pavilion and I found an open grate to crouch and move through. I came into a room mostly encased in ice but there were a ton of supplies I could grab. Just as I was thinking this is awesome to myself, a heavy mist completely covered my screen, preventing me from seeing anything. When it cleared seconds later, nothing had changed. The gurney and medical instruments were exactly as they were before. I didn’t think anything of it and continued picking up items. All of a sudden it occurred again, and this time when the mist faded, a doctor splicer was right up in my face, nose to nose. I wasn’t expecting that and was completely freaked out. I paused the game to recover after shooting him in the face with a shotgun.
– I’ve never played the Silent Hill games, but I’ve heard they’re really messed up and terrifying as well. Maybe it’s a good thing I have never played them….
– I never got into the Resident Evil series either, but I’ve seen friends play them enough to know that they do have their moments. Especially the earlier titles.
-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!