When thinking of Halloween, most people’s minds go immediately to movies, television and books – whether comic or traditional novels – but the video game world has plenty of spooky delights for gamers to indulge in during the season of the witch. Whether it’s a full game or an impressive DLC, if you want to play through a house of horrors yourself, our favorite consoles have got you covered. Here are our picks for the best horror video games…
Horror games, when they’re first advertised through their respective trailers, can ultimately prove to be one of two things: a trick or a treat. Either the game delivers and it works, or it doesn’t. Resident Evil 4 was and still is one of those that just work. The Resident Evil franchise has been around since 1996, when the first entry hit shelves. RE4 is a standout amongst the franchise, with an updated gameplay style that helped to modernize a series that, up until that point, was admittedly feeling a bit dated. In the fourth mainline entry in the classic survival horror video game series, you take control of Leon S. Kennedy, former Racoon City cop and now special operative with a direct line to the President. Leon is tasked with traveling to a remote village in Europe where his daughter is reportedly being held captive. Naturally, this would not be a Resident Evil game without the horror element, and RE4 does it well; extremely well. The setting changes from a big city to a remote, nearly off-grid village in another country. The village residents have been turned into something truly evil (see what I did there?) by a new type of virus/parasite called Las Plagas, and it does something horrific to the people by turning them into mindless, seemingly possessed husks that make Leon’s rescue operation more than a little difficult. The game’s atmosphere is perfectly creepy and the storytelling surpasses that of most horror genre films with its intrigue and twists. It doesn’t hurt that the voice acting is top-notch, as are the individual characters. It’s one of the few entries in the franchise that holds up with today’s games, even with the lack of ability to move and shoot at the same time!
If you’re a fan of Sam Raimi’s movie series (and have access to an older-gen console), you’ll have a lot of fun with Fistful of Boomstick. Bruce Campbell voices his immortal horror hero Ash as he sees his town overrun with Deadites following a talk show’s incantation of the spell from the infamous Necronomicon. Affixing his hand-replacing chainsaw and loading up the titular shotgun, Ash goes to war with the undead hordes, once again finding himself the only man who can stop the Army of Darkness. The gameplay is pretty straightforward: kill Deadites, retrieve objects, move from A to B till the level is over. The fun is in controlling Ash, and having it really feel like you’re in an epic Evil Dead movie (so epic that Ash travels to several different time periods to fight his monstrous nemeses!). Boss battles are surprisingly challenging, with each having a trick to combating whatever demon lord Ash finds himself pitted against; they’ll take you a while to figure out, but once you do the victory is doubly satisfying. And, of course, Ash is full of his patented one-liners, as only Bruce Campbell can deliver. Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomstick is perfect way to cap off a Halloween marathon of Ash’s cinematic misadventures.
Imagine if The Nightmare Before Christmas was directed by Dario Argento (Suspiria). That’s what this cute but ominous, massive Metroidvania platformer is exactly like!
The Kingdom of Hallownest is in ruins after a mysterious infection possesses most of the bugs in the region, turning them into violent, mindless shells of what they used to be. It’s up to a strange newcomer to Hallownest to get to the bottom of the abyss and discover what happened. Team Cherry really knocked this Halloweenie piñata out of the park with this indie game released to a very modest price they have already expanded thrice for free with their DLCs!
In case everyone forgot, back in 2010, zombies were all the craze. Therefore, it made sense that one of the biggest games of the year, Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption, would join the fray with its Undead Nightmare expansion. This cash-in on the undead fad came in the form of one of the best examples of how to properly do DLC, boasting a full-fledged campaign that not only took characters you loved (or hated) from the original game’s story, but effectively turned the entire map and game world into a post-apocalyptic Wild West rife with zombies. New weapons, quests, outfits, mounts and more were injected into the game, and players were even given the chance to find and own the four horses of the apocalypse, each with their own special powers. In addition, players could hunt mythical beasts, such as the chupacabra, to add to the fun. All of this was great, but the best part was seeing how simply desolate and lifeless the game’s world had become, aside from the dead roaming the wilderness, deserts, and towns. That may seem like a bad thing for an open world game, but trust that, though there were significantly fewer NPCs littering the world, there was no shortage of zombie hordes to challenge the player. The overall atmosphere and the sheer scope of this DLC make it not only one of the best horror-themed games I’ve had the pleasure of playing, but also one of the best expansions to be released for any game, ever. Here’s hoping we get some kind of similar expansion now that Red Dead Redemption 2 has finally hit the market eight years later.
Do you agree with our Halloween video game picks? Did we leave off your favorite? Is Night Trap an unsung classic? Let us know in the comments and hang out with Geeks + Gamers this Halloween for more of our horror favorites!