Halloween is here! To get in the holiday spirit, lots of people choose to watch scary movies or visit haunted houses to get their scare on. However, in this writer‘s humble opinion, nothing revs up the chills better than playing a scary video game alone in the dark. (And if you’re like me, you’ll still get scared in the daylight and in the company of friends.) Here are some of the creepiest games I’ve come across that still gives me nightmares.
1) The Evil Within
You play Detective Sebastian Castellanos whose partners are slaughtered by a menacing force. Castellanos then finds himself in a deranged world inhabited by hideous creatures that look as if they came from the nightmares of every supernatural horror movie, slasher flick you’ve ever seen. Lesson: if a mass murder happens within a menacing looking insane asylum, send in a ton of drones. Going in yourself is just not good for the ol’ ticker.The announcement trailer alone made me yell, “BUCKET FULL OF NOOOOOPES!” So far, I’ve only watched others play this game. Not only has the sentiment stayed the same, but now I hide behind my couch pillow fort (the mightiest of cushy forts) when I watch any video pertaining to the game. Game Informer’s Tim Turi pretty accurately describes the game as “what you get when you take the most iconic horror clichés, blend them into a bloody pulp, and spread them across the sturdy bones of Resident Evil 4.” And yes, this game is definitely not for the faint of heart…or stomach.2) Alien IsolationI am a huge Alien fan, and while Colonial Marines disappointed me immensely, ‘Alien Isolation’ has been bone chillingly enjoyable so far. The game slowly builds some tension from the very beginning, providing mystery and conflict within the first 10 minutes. ‘Isolation’ pretty much work like the first movie: it’s a slow burn before all hell breaks loose. And that’s without the Alien finally showing up to kill you. But then it rears its ugly, stabby tail and you run like hell.After that, it’s you trying to stay as far away from the Alien as much as possible (mostly in the dark) while finding a way to get off the Sevastopol. And if that wasn’t enough, you’re also trying to avoid other crew members and killer androids. Oh, and you don’t really have any weapons in this game. Sure you’re equipped with tools that will (maybe) stun the Alien, but you can’t ever kill it.3) Alan Wake‘Alan Wake’ is like a Stephen King psychological thriller come to life. Alan Wake is a writer who has been suffering from writer’s block for two years. His wife takes him to a cabin on a secluded island where he can hopefully get over this funk. But then a mysterious shadow kidnaps his wife and starts messing with Alan’s life in the worst ways, psychologically. You’re enemies are made up of shadows who are incorporeal until you shine your flashlight on them.
So this game is not an outright horror romp, but the atmosphere (and your enemies) is just as creepy if not downright unsettling. Rapture, the one you’re introduced to, is in a state of complete ruin. What’s left of its citizens have become homicidal lunatics who want to steal the ADAM inside your body (ADAM is a substance that creates plasmids which gives the user superhuman powers). It’s dirty, there are bloody messages on the walls and floors, and you can hear your enemies chatting from a distance but you can’t ever tell from where. The more secrets you discover about Rapture’s citizens, the creepier the game gets.
Oh yeah, and there’s are mechanical juggernauts roaming around Rapture called Big Daddies who have a giant drills for hands. Depending on your objective, they will chase you, and they’re definitely not slow…5) Silent Hill 2Silent Hill 2 is genuinely unnerving; it’s arguably the best in the series so far. The atmosphere alone is unsettling: thick fog, sirens, rust that looks like rotting flesh. It’s hard not to get sucked into the exploration and feel your own mind slowly going mad with fear and paranoia.Someone explained to me that SH2 is like when Sam Raimi revisited ‘Evil Dead’ where he took all the creepy elements that worked and made a second film with even more disturbing imagery and concepts. SH2 is a game that looks at all the stuff that worked in the first game and amped it up with more intense psychological terror. Unlike subsequent games in the series, which deviated more and more towards adapting as many slasher elements as possible, SH2 explored the fears and tragedies of the character and manifesting them into real monsters that haunt and follow you around.6) Fatal Frame 2‘Fatal Frame 2’ takes advantage of scaring you with horrors that you don’t see. Your only weapon is an enchanted camera which exorcises each ghostly figure you find through its lens. If you’ve ever watched paranormal horror movies from Japan, then you are aware of that they employ far different techniques to creep you the frick out. It’s for the gamers who prefer more action to their survival horror. This game definitely take its time dishing out the horrendous and disturbing moments, but they’re worth chills you get every time.If you’re a gamer (or perhaps a student of marketing), then you’ve definitely heard of this game by now. ‘P.T.’ appeared on the Playstation Network as a free game for the PS4. No one really knew what it was at first since there were no blatant connection to any specific horror franchise we’ve come across. That is…until players finally finished it. Turns out ‘P.T.’ is merely a marketing tactic made to reveal Silent Hills, the next installment to the survival horror franchise. It stars ‘The Walking Dead’s’ Norman Reedus with Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro sharing the director’s chair.‘P.T.’ is a short first-person game. You wake up to find yourself traveling through a continuous hallway. That in itself is quite maddening. To progress through the game, you have to solve a few obscure puzzles (help from other gamers is deeply encouraged). The farther you get, the crazier the hallway. There’s a crying, misshapen fetus in the sink of a filthy bathroom, doors open and close, giant eyes pop up on the walls, colors start getting wonky and you fast-forward through the halls, a news report on the radio gets way too in depth about a murder that took place in the house…then that same voice starts talking to you… Oh right, and there’s an apparition who pops up out of nowhere as soon as you turn around. It’s like you just stepped into a pit inhabited by an Old One. NO THANK YOU!‘Dead Space’ is a pure action game with seriously disturbed monsters. I couldn’t even play this one; I had to watch a friend of mine play through it. This combines all of my deepest fears, getting stuck on a derelict space station (IN SPACE!) with murderous zombie alien monsters that pop out and try to kill eat you. The Necromorphs are reanimated human corpses that transform into hideous creatures. They almost look like they jumped right out of H.R. Giger’s night terrors. The only way to beat these Necromorphs is to “strategically dismember” each one that attacks you. The tried and true method is a space chain saw. It’s cool and extremely gory, but not for the faint of heart.Honorable Mentions:First of all, the fungus portrayed in this game is based on reality. Cordyceps are a type of parasitic fungus that invade an insect’s brain and takes control of their behavior. In The Last of Us, the cordyceps jump species and start affecting humans (think a cross between ’28 Days Later’ rage monsters who get progressively uglier). Of course, you’re not dealing with just the Infected. Any post-apocalyptic story will tell you that it’s not the monsters you should be worried about the most, it’s other people.‘The Last of Us’ is not only a creepy game, it’s damn good. In my humble opinion, the story plays like a great American novel. If you haven’t played it yet, do yourself a favor and get it now.One element from this game gave me nightmares for weeks: the Banshee.