We’re not far from the day itself and we’re here to give you some recommendations based on our favourite Horror games. So what are you waiting for? A zombie dog to jump through the window or something…?
Visceral Games’ Dead Space was a game that I bought on release and then played over the weekend before Halloween in 2008. I’m one of the few people who has completed it (I remember seeing stats a while back that said that only something like 40% of players (or fewer) ever completed the game). And it was one absolutely terrifying weekend that has yet to be topped by my current run through the first four main Silent Hill games.
With its huge space ships and planet cracking industry, the first game owed a lot to the Alien films franchise. Dead Space also went further than Alien and Aliens, taking the loneliness of space to greater extremes, playing on the size and vastness of the crafts featured to great effect, and pulling out all the stops when it came to body horror. Sure, meals in Dead Space were quite uneventful, but you were far more likely to end up as some sort of space chum while you played.
I’m not trying to play Isaac off of Ripley here, but I think people need to remember that before Alien: Isolation there was Dead Space. Still, in Dead Space you’re never quite sure who the real monsters are and there are no androids to blame anything on…
I’ve played my share of scary games. Amnesia, Bioshock, Resident Evil – all respectable choices. But my actual pick is one that will probably get me laughed at, because it’s not a game anyone seems particularly fond of. But Doom 3 is a much better game than you remember. Honestly.
The Doom series was always about demons breaking through to our world from hell. But Doom 3 is the first game in the series to really use that concept to its full potential. In the previous games it was mainly just an excuse for there to be monsters, but here it’s used as a source of fear and horror.
What works best is the surprising amount of restraint. Whatever you imagine when I say “hell” is far scarier than anything the game designers could show you – so they don’t show you anything. They cover the walls in bloody handprints, they flicker the lights, and they play dying screams over the intercom – but they show you nothing. When the screams give way to unbearable silence you know that something terrible is coming for you, but the game bides its time and makes you sweat, dreading the eventual reveal.
The atmosphere is so thick and so painfully tense that when my sister (who had just watched the Friends episode with Unagi) burst into the room shouting “DANGER!” I leapt into the air screaming and tried to hide under the desk. *And I hadn’t even seen any monsters yet!*
Of course, it’s plagued by the same problems as any other horror game – repetition slowly drains the impact of the scares, and your steadily growing arsenal does the same. But, even though it devolves into a pretty standard old-school shooter (hey, remember circle-strafing?) the first half of Doom 3 remains the scariest gaming experience of my life.
It took me a long time to think of a horror game. The only thing I’d played that I really felt fit the title of horror” was Diablo II, but, for me at least, for something to be horror, it has to scare me, and Diablo II didn’t. To me, it represents exhilarating and unadulterated bloodlust and a healthy dash of frustration, and that just isn’t horror.
So like I said, it took me a long time to think of a game that was horror, of a game that actually scared me. I eventually settled on something though, and that was the slightly left-field choice of Portal. Now, bear with me, I know Portal isn’t a “horror” game – it’s a puzzle game, and an excellent one at that – but it’s still the last game I played that left me with sweaty palms and cold sense of dread. When you find secret compartments filled with frantic scrawlings and bloodied handprints – when you realise that the shiny exterior of Aperture Science hides some pretty unpleasant secrets – it makes your stomach tighten and panic and fear start you creep in. Finally, when GLaDOS tries to drop you in a pit of fire, it’s enough to make your heart plummet and freeze you in terror.
After that, it’s a frantic dash through abandoned corridors and empty rooms, all the while being mocked by the emotionless yet sadistic voice of your tormentor. It’s a claustrophobic, tense and altogether unpleasant experience. It’s frightening, it’s scary and it’s relentless. And that’s why Portal – despite being a slightly zany and incredibly fun puzzle game – is my pick for horror games this week.
There’s often one iconic series of horror games that come to mind – probably the most famous of all, simply because it’s been around and kicking for so long as well as being mostly positive. That’s Resident Evil. While other series have come and taken the fiery mantle on this one, Resident Evil still has a place in my heart. And none so much as Resident Evil 2.
The second of the Resident Evil series had an interesting switch from the live-action styling from the original to a new shiny one. The interesting thing is, is that it didn’t need any dirty/grimey aesthetic to it – it had zombies, super-zombies (lickers, William Birkin, etc…) and so it could rely on blood as an aesthetic choice.
With Resident Evil 2, we had an introduction to some interesting characters, including fan favourite Leon, Ada Wong and a few others (such as Sherry and Claire, although they haven’t played quite as big a role). The gameplay was pretty similar to the first apart from the fact that it had way more ammo stashed about the place. This meant that part of the scare of the original – having to dodge zombies in hallways when you could was fairly optional. You couldn’t really do that too much, but you you had more options.
This was also the first time you were really actually stalked by enemies as well, with monsters and William Birkin showing up every now and then right up until the end. Plus if you were playing the B storyline, you’d often get face to face with Mr X. You never knew about Mr X from the A storyline, proving that just because you completed the game on the first Story, doesn’t mean the game had no more tricks up it’s sleeve. In fact, I absolutely loved the fact that it felt like 4 actual stories to it.
Whilst there have been other modes and choices in the other games to make, the second one I felt did something far more special – and something that I don’t think Capcom they managed to replicate in later titles.
If you’re looking for a survival horror game with swarms of zombies that wander about the environment for then suddenly to have hordes of them running for you and to have a variety of special mutated zombies just to make it a little more terrifying, than Left 4 Dead is the ideal game for you, especially when you get to play it with friends.
Whilst the game lack’s on an actual storyline or plot development the game keeps you interested in having you traverse a fair number of locations through the levels where zombies and specials can spawn at random points. Items also spawn such as pills, pipe bombs and molotovs.
Whilst the zombies seem to look slow at first glance they’re actually pretty fast on their feet, the special ones are a lot different than other zombies for example the hunter leaps at you from a distant, smoker wrings your neck and chokes you, tanks are very big muscle like hulks that charge right towards you, boomers that spew a nasty smell on you that can attract a horde (kill them from a distance to prevent being covered) and most dangerous of all are the witches you don’t want to tick them or they will shred you to pieces.
One of the important things of this game is that you need to stick with your teammates and not go out alone because you can easily get yourself killed so stick together and help them out if they get attacked.
The maximum amount of people you can have online is 4 for the survivors though if you don’t have XBOX Gold you can have a friend over and play split-screen, you also get to play as the infected.
With the combination of music that give you goosebumps Left 4 Dead is an ideal game to play with friends to fight together and make it to the end.