On a night where the worlds of the living and the dead are supposed to become one, pagan rituals are once again carried out for summer’s end and vile beasties walk the streets, hungry and drooling in search of sinful sustenance… That may just sound like another Friday night, depending on where you live but no, it’s Halloween again and being gamers, nerds and techies, we’re either out cosplaying as our favourite fantasy characters or stuck in the house just waiting for other people’s dribbling, unhygienic children to come grovelling for sweets.
So, if you’re one of the latter, then you’re probably looking for something a bit more on the gruesome side to play this evening, while the rest of the world dresses up in badly made superhero costumes and fairy tale outfits that would make Hans Christian Andersen’s eyes pop out of his head… Those skirts really are getting shorter every year.
So here’s a roundup of some of the more recent games that come under the general label of horror, at least in some way or another. Something to get your teeth into, other than the munchies you bought for the kids but then decided to eat yourself instead.
If you enjoy spending time locked up in a wardrobe, hiding behind the sofa or creating IEDs to protect yourself from inhuman extra terrestrials, then you probably need to go and see a doctor… On the other hand, you could just fulfill your delusional problem by picking up a copy of Alien: Isolation and doing all this from the comfort of your own living room.
You play as the daughter of Ellen Ripley, the survivor of many an encounter of H R Giger’s chest-bursting, acid-blooded xenomorph. Amanda is a technician working for Weyland-Yutani, the dodgy corporation with a penchant for catching one of the aliens and using it as a potential weapon. When Amanda finds out that there’s information on her mother’s disappearance on the space station, Sevastopol, she heads off with a small company team only to find that something has went horribly wrong.
Cue lots of dead bodies, androids that have been wired up the wrong way and a slow crawl through potentially, one of the most terrifying gaming experiences to date. The xeno stalks you through Sevastopol, only traceable by using a motion tracker and without the ability to outright kill the skittering, slavering monster.
The Evil Within
Think of Shinji Mikami, you should also ultimately be thinking about Resident Evil, as the man created the modern survival horror as we know it. After a few years away from the franchise and nothing to do with the terrible 5th and 6th installments, Mikami has released a game that seems to be a homage to his old love with the help of Bethesda.
If you like gore, guts, Saw-like torture-porn and excrement inducing horror, then The Evil Within is the game for you this Halloween. Playing as detective Sebastian Castellanos, you investigate the gory scene of a mass murder at the local asylum and are dropped into a nightmare world of giant cannibals, barbed wire wrapped zombies and a fat bloke with a safe jammed on his head.
Gameplay consists of running around like a screaming loon, hunting for scarce ammo, sneaking past corpse-gobbling ghouls and staying very, very quiet unless you want to have your head caved in, chopped into suet or gutted like a fish in full visual detail. It’s a beautiful mess of violence that only some will be able to stomach but the ride is worth it to see a return to the survival horror that we’ve been missing for so long.
The Walking Dead
Telltale Games managed to bring horror to the masses by dropping the gameplay of Monkey Island, a story fitting of the best zombie fiction and the incredibly popular The Walking Dead comic book series/TV show into a large cauldron and producing one of the most intelligent, emotional and disturbing tales ever told in gaming history.
Through two seasons so far, the adventure of Clementine has culminated into a heart and gut-wrenching tale of survival in a world of monsters, both undead and human. Telltale managed to create something that gets you deeply involved with the characters, the story and realise just how far people will go to survive in a post apocalyptic world.
The episodic content offered requires you to choose your path, who to team up with, who to trust and does it in such a way that immerses you in the entirety of the many hours you’ll spend trying to be a decent human being while posed with heavy moral choices that will dynamically change the way the story plays out in future episodes.
If you haven’t delved into this beautifully bleak title yet, it has just been released on PS4 and Xbox One along with the last-generation consoles and PC.
Resident Evil Revelations
It took me a while to play Revelations as I was so disheartened by the more recent Resident Evil games in the series that I’d lost my penchant for them. Luckily, I pushed myself to have a go and it turned out to be a return to form, combining the combat system of RE4 and the exploration and puzzling system of earlier titles.
Jill and Chris Valentine return to form on a luxury cruiser in the middle of the ocean, holding secrets of the usual Umbrella related experiments to be uncovered. If you missed ammo gathering, tight corridors and tense moments, then Resident Evil Revelations is a good place to return to the series.
That’s Halloween covered for this year. So get comfortable, gather some tooth-decaying treats, make some toffee onions for the little buggers that decide to play tricks and huddle up in the dark, in front of your favourite gaming platform with one of these scary titles. Or, you could go down the pub dressed as Pikachu… Probably safer indoors to be honest.