It’s finally that time of year again, when we break out the ghosts and ghouls and prep ourselves for one night of pure terror. While most would consider watching a Wes Craven movie or read a Stephen King novel, our writers here at MachinimaSBOC have handpicked ten of the best games we think define the meaning of celebrating the season.
The Real Spooks:
This list is comprised of some of the meatier, and more terrifying experiences our writers have to share. So major warnings must be advised here, as these games are definitely not for the squeamish or the feint of heart.
Resident Evil 7 (Capcom – PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Resident Evil is a franchise that, at its core, has always been about survival-horror. Although the many other offerings Capcom made up to this point have been sub-par to the classics that were released prior, the series revolutionised and popularised the genre as we know it today. Resident Evil 7 drives back into its roots while also drawing inspiration from many of its contemporaries, re-animating the franchise and the interest towards it to its former glory.
The story focuses on the character of Ethan Winters, who discovers a mysterious message sent to him by his missing wife. He is drawn to the swamps of Louisiana and into a plantation that looks very much overgrown and abandoned. However, it is there he encounters a family of pseudo-immortal psychopaths, all hellbent in trying to either kill or make him part of their flock.
This game is a brilliant way to get the spooks this Halloween, especially when played in a room of complete darkness. But if you want the maximum spooks, then try it on PSVR because we can guarantee… you wouldn’t want to stay the night…
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School (Sonnori – PS4, PC)
Whispered and revered in some circles as the scariest game ever made, this remake of the 2001 Korean cult-classic has been redesigned and brought back to life to terrify a new age of gamers. Trapped in a school overrun with murderous spirits and possessed janitors, Hee-Min must duck and dive through classrooms and corridors to have a chance of escape. The game boasts ten endings, with branching paths depending on how you interact with the other students imprisoned alongside you – and the pressure is on as you’re constantly hounded by angry bat-wielding janitors, all who want nothing more than to see you reduced to a bloody pulp. Limping through halls at speeds far higher than physically allowed, you have to cover your tracks and remain vigilant as you hunt the school for clues and items.
Taking us back to the Golden era of horror games, saves are limited to a consumable item, marker pens scarcely littered about. Saving your game is a privilege in these unforgiving halls. Puzzles shift in difficulty and solution, meaning no two playthroughs will be the same and you’re locked into the difficulty with no walkthrough guides to save you here. Between the hunt of the janitor and the haunt of a hundred undead classmates, little respite is offered. Ghost encounters are unique and triggered randomly or via puzzles and quests hinted at through loose documents, each a gruesome delight, should you be brave enough to go looking. The ghosts themselves are grotesquely fleshy and wildly varied, from umbilical cord dragging baby to locker-stuffed, shrieking corpse, you’ll remember your first creep through White Day even after your third or fourth completion.
Fatal Frame (Project Zero) (Tecmo – PSN, PS2, Xbox )
Fatal Frame is considered to be a classic for its use of suspense and psychology – ingredients that are commonly associated with Japanese horror movies. The series is known for its intriguing folklore, and its unique gameplay mechanic of exorcising evil spirits through photography is one that is challenging yet chilling at the same time.
Set in the 1980s, you play as Miku Hanasaki, a young girl with a special ability to see the supernatural. After the search for her brother takes her to the ruins of the Himuro Mansion, she soon encounters evil spirits and begins to discover rope marks around her body for some strange reason. Armed only with her brother’s special camera, she must venture deep into the mansion to discover the dark secrets in order to save her brother’s – and her own life.
We all know that the best kind of horror places you at the heart of the danger, and at your most helpless. The idea of having nothing but a camera and forcing you to literally place yourself in front of the spirits takes the term “facing your fears” to a whole new level. Although it may be the oldest game on the list, it’s one that shouldn’t be underestimated or you’ll be finding yourself up at night.
Not everything has to be expensive, especially if you just want to have fun this Halloween season. Here we have a list of games that are not only affordable, but also appreciatively and creatively done by dedicated indie developers.
Tokyo Dark ( Cherrymochi – PC, Mac)
Less visceral and more calculating, Tokyo Dark serves an unwaveringly sombre narrative under the guise of bright anime visuals. As Detective Ito searching for her missing partner, players navigate the multi-pathed story, uncovering the mysteries of Ito’s latest case all the while keeping an eye on her wavering mental health. Will you act professionally and doggedly chase the case to the bitter end? Or will your chief concern be Ito’s wellbeing? Perhaps that one interesting woman behind the bar is worth your time, the choices you make and your wellbeing throughout lead to all manner of outcome in this modern Noir, where every character has a story of their own, tucked away in the grimy backstreets of Tokyo.
Ito’s psychosis, the dark powers of an occult mask and the vengeful spirit of a girl she couldn’t save haunt her throughout, effecting visuals, sound and even player choices, breaking the fourth-wall, sudden impulses converting all options to murder. A masterful sense of unease awaits underpinning the entire experience, should a gritty detective tale laced with both cutesy maid cafes and sewer-dwelling perverts take your fancy this Halloween. It’s a great title to really immerse yourself in late at night, when you really feel all the creeping nuances and the superb crackling ambience of the soundtrack really comes to life.
The Walking Dead – Season 1 ( Telltale Games – PC, Xbox One, PS4, Tablet)
Although the popularity of the series has led to a lack of quality in the more recent seasons and the whole ‘interactive adventure’ appeal of TellTale games as a whole – it cannot be denied that this game really brought a whole new level of game narrative. TWD may have brought about the fear of the nature of other humans in an apocalyptic world – but TellTale’s TWD literally places you in the middle of it and shows you the consequences of what you choose to do if you were actually involved.
Season 1 places you in the shoes of Lee Everett, an unfortunate history teacher on his way to prison after killing a state senator for sleeping with his wife. Lucky for him, the police car crashes into the forest and he finds the officer dead. Unlucky for him, he is almost eaten by the officer who is now reduced to a brainless creature and soon finds out the whole world is becoming the same. After escaping and finding other survivors, they must work together to try and find a safe haven in this apocalyptic world.
When you have not just yours but other lives on your hands, you find yourself on the edge of your seat just praying for something to work out for once – but of course, life isn’t that easy. This game will give you a plethora of emotions, whether its happy, sad or just pure horror, it definitely is a recommendation for any fan of zombie horror fans.
Layers of Fear (Bloober Team – PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch)
Layers of Fear isn’t really a game that is outright scary like many others on this list. Instead, it builds itself up like a roller coaster that takes its time initiating the horror, rather than portraying the means to be afraid.
As a psychological horror, it aptly grooms the player’s senses and familiarity by thrusting them into a seemingly normal family home. The story focuses on the character of the ‘artist’, whose mental state slowly deteriorates as the game progresses. Throughout the various rooms and ever-changing layout of the house (which worsens with each passing door) we begin to get clues as to what has happened and to whom. By the end, the full picture is realised and the art is complete, but “what is it supposed to be?” you wonder – an answer that is pieced together by what your actions in the game.
Focusing more towards a narrative constructed through mystery and drama, the game portrays a tragic look at the effects of mental illness. Hardly relying on jump-scares and focusing more towards developing a vibrant yet twisted world, it simply provides a more abstract definition to horror.
Not everything has to be scary for Halloween right? Sometime, it can be nice to just enjoy the aesthetic and atmosphere in games that have just a dash of horror sprinkled into it. This list is comprised of some of the best games that make the most out of the genre in a unique way, perhaps even happier and lighter in tone, scary or not.
Luigi’s Mansion (Nintendo – GameCube)
Luigi’s Mansion was the first Mario game that placed Luigi in the limelight, creating a plot that perfectly embodied his well-known trait of being a scaredy cat and combining it with an extremely innovative but entertaining gameplay.
The story starts with Luigi receiving a letter that he has won a contest with the prize being his very own mansion. Agreeing to meet Mario at the mansion, he makes his way there only to realise that the place was not as advertised and Mario nowhere to be found. Soon after entering the mansion, he encounters ghosts and meets Professor E. Gad, an eccentric man whom explains that that the mansion is an unnatural phenomenon created by King Boo that now houses freed ghosts that Luigi must capture. Equipped with a flashlight and two of E. Gad’s brilliantly named inventions: The Poltergust 3000 and Gameboy Horror, Luigi must now play the hero and rescue Mario from King Boo’s clutches.
We’ve all heard about vacuuming up spiders, but ghosts? I’m not sure how Nintendo came up with this idea but it’s brilliant and brings about an new gameplay mechanic that is fast, fun and downright funny.
Little Nightmares (Tarsier Studios – PS4, Xbox One, PC)
While horror is certainly one of its primary components, it’s hard not to appreciate the sense of wonder and creativity behind the world of Little Nightmares. An exceptional balance of graphics and atmosphere, the game draws you in the realm of the Maw, a sombre and hopeless place where creatures lurk and dreams come to die.
Throughout the game, we take control of a young character only known as ‘Six’, whose fate solely relies upon the player’s ability to think and act fast during the most crucial moments. Little Nightmares takes on the form of a stealth-based platformer with strong emphasis on puzzle solving – a refreshing take to a genre that’s overcrowded with many other first person offerings. As much of the game is seen through the eyes of a child, it’s presumed that many of the creatures present in the game are conjured through its imagination. This only further adds to the horror behind the game, as their deformity could be seen as the result of their perceived maliciousness and acts of evil.
This title is definitely one of the most fascinating games within the genre, as it mixes a more interactive approach to gameplay with a harrowing yet grounded narrative. The beautiful aesthetic is simply too hard to pass on as well, and is in my opinion, the best way to get tamely spooked this season.
Haunt the House: Terror Town (SFB Games – PC, IOS, Android, PS Vita)
On the more light-hearted side of things, Haunt the House: Terror Town is an adorable ghost based action puzzle game with vibrant, candy-tinged visuals and a wicked sense of humour. As a rosy cheeked spook, you hurtle from one object to another, possessing all kinds of furniture to creep out and eventually drive off the terrified masses. Beginning with little influence, merely able to shake objects or rattle bars, you build up a fear metre that allows you to grow from playful prankster to powerful poltergeist. Cute actions become creepy manipulations, x-ray machines spawning devilish monsters and wheelchairs grow shadowy passengers under your control. Some interactions are even lethal to certain bystanders, killing them off to become new, playable ghosts.
Flitting from object to object, chasing unwitting bystanders as shrieking statue busts, vases or suits of armour, a devilish sense of glee comes from clearing a whole room. It’s a short, simple game but each area serves as a varied playground with an arsenal of vessels, to toy with the living in a number of unique ways. Featuring the original free-to-play flash version as well as two, free DLC maps with unique ghosts for each, Haunt the House: Terror Town is a whimsical, spooky treat for any fan of the season, and an absolute steal at £0.79 currently on the Halloween Steam sale.
Creme Dela Creep:
And last, but not at all least, the game we think you absolutely HAVE to try this Halloween.
The Evil Within 2 ( Bethesda – PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Taking what made the first game great and applying it to a semi-open world, this spook-filled sequel mixes zombies, ghosts, hallucinations and old-school survival horror to create something which moves the horror genre in a new and refreshing direction.
Playing the role of hardened ex-cop Sebastian, players must traverse the horrific world of Union as they attempt to rescue his daughter Lily. There are intense boss-fights, brutal resource management and a genuinely scary story to contend with here which all culminates in an experience which is not for the faint-hearted. The game ditches the formulaic survival horror template it stuck to so closely in the first title very early on indeed and instead opts for horror vignettes connected by a dense semi-open world which rewards exploration and is impeccably designed to scare.
Check out our review here to read our full impressions of the game and whatever you choose to play this Halloween, we hope you have a very spooky one indeed.