I've begun a new Halloween tradition where I like to turn off all the lights and play a scary game. Where horror movies let you watch others in frightening situations, video games deliver a different experience, where I'm the one running from zombies or creeping through a dark hallway. Here are 10 of the most spooky titles for those looking for a Halloween thrill from the comforts of their couch...
PC / Mac: Free
The biggest indie game of 2012, Slender spooked players pants off with its gloomy atmosphere, and spawned countless knock offs. Players are tasked with finding 8 pages out in a dark woodland landscape, all while avoiding the creepy Slenderman who lurks in the shadows. The horror is mostly imagined, as surrounding sounds and a limited illuminated view with an in-game flashlight ignites the imagination into "did I just see something" mode; there's always the sense the Slenderman is always somewhere out there, ready to grab you at any moment.
Steam: $20 - Mac App Store: $20
There's something to be said about a game that has no direct threat nor really anything actually scary, yet is able to ignite a great feeling of uneasiness. Gone Home puts players in the shoes of a character returning home after being away at college for several years, only to find their family has suddenly left for parts unknown, leaving the home in disarray. Players wander from room to room to rummage through furniture in an eerily still home, all in the hopes of discovering clues concerning what happened.
Fatal Frame 2
Playstation 3: $10
Fatal Frame 2 is a Japanese horror title where players take on the role of Mio Amakura, accompanied by her twin sister Mayu, as they explore the "Lost Village", a realm filled with tormented spirits. Their only means of defense from these apparitions is the Camera Obscura, a camera that dispels spirits with each press of the shutter, all from a first person perspective.
PC / Mac: $10
Gothic fairy tales are a rich source for the horror genre, as proven by The Path. The game borrows basic elements from childhood tales such as Little Red Riding Hood, but embellishes the story with a hazy abstract art style, alongside offering 6 alternate female characters. Ironically it's possible to lose by following the single objective of staying on the path and going straight to Grandma's house! The Path nudges players to get off the beaten path and explore the woods to search for memories while avoiding the wolf stalking you across the dark forest.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Steam: $20 - Mac App Store: $20
A psychological thriller that has players exploring a castle in 1839, you're left wondering exactly what it ishunting your through the castle's narrow hallways. The kicker? The protagonist is suffering from amnesia and must discover notes they've written for themselves to unravel what happened and perhaps what the unearthly entity is that is hot on their heels.
The Walking Dead
Steam: $25 - iOS: $20 - Playstation 3: $15 - XBox 360: $25 - Playstation Vita: $15
Telltale Games consistently delivers amazing 'point and click' games for a wide variety of titles, such as Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, Fables, and The Walking Dead. Top of many gamers' list of best games of 2012, this version of The Walking Dead is an original story with a graphical style that replicates the sketchy and grotesque look of the originating graphic novels.
Ju-On Haunted House Simulator
Nintendo Wii: $20
The Wii's unique control scheme is perfect for this 'haunted house simulator' which uses the Wiimote as a flashlight, and the Wii's nunchuck for navigating the game's character. Based on the popular horror franchise known in the west as The Grudge, the game is set in a variety of dark and stress-inducing environments, like an abandoned apartment complex or forgotten warehouse. At the end of the level, Ju-On lets you know how brave you really were by measuring how steady your hands were during gameplay!
Resident Evil Remake
Nintendo Wii: $14.93
The original Resident Evil released on the first Playstation felt like a B-Horror movie in video game form. When Capcom remade RE for the Nintendo GameCube, and the Wii years later, it transformed into a horrifying and creepy, yet beautifully rendered experience rich with detail. New areas were added, and events that happened in the predecessor were cleverly left out to avoid reusing jump scares.
SCP Containment Breach
Doctor Who fans will recognize the nature of the creature in SCP Containment Breach, which takes place in a lab set up to study a most unusual life form. The creature can only move when outside of player's vision or as they blink, like the Weeping Angels from the popular sci-fi show. Failure to keep an eye on the monster will lead to an unfortunate 'game over'.
Playstation Portable/PS Vita: $20
Don't be deceived by the retro 8-bit graphics, Corpse Party is gory, thrill-inducing experience, a powerful thrill ride set in a haunted school. The Playstation Portable game takes place in Heavenly Host School, rumored to have a dark history. Eight students are transported into a dilapidated alternate world haunted by the spirits who failed to survive from previous generations. Players explore while gathering information from rotting corpses, artistically portrayed in retro-2D style, and supported by binaural 3D audio which adds to the frightening atmosphere of this story-driven horror adventure for fans of the Japanese horror genre.
(Images: all titles as linked above)