Here we are again, the spookiest time of the year: Halloween. While you’re more than welcome to play horror games at any point of the calendar, there’s something about playing them now that enhances the holidays. It gets you in the mood to be scared, you know? If you want to really scare the bejesus our of yourself, then take a gander at the best spookiest horror games you should play this Halloween!
The Xenomorph from Ridley Scott’s Alien is without a doubt the perfect candidate for a horror game antagonist. The creature created a sense of dread and claustrophobia with its narrow corridors. The Xenomorph was always on the move; Alien: Isolation truly captured that same feeling, that frightening threat of it closing in on you.
The game does a superb job working on your nerves and anxiety, as you hear the bumps and bangs of the creature moving through the ducts, followed by sudden silence. Is it waiting for you? Should you risk running to a safer place? What if it hears you? While you’re trying to figure out a game plan, you quickly realize you’ve been holding your breath the entire time!
Dead Space 1 & 2
I can’t recommend Dead Space enough; it’s one of my favorite horror games and franchises, for that matter. At least once a year, I install Dead Space 1 and 2, and play them to completion. It’s been a ritual of mine for over a decade and it still manages to make me crawl out of my skin. It doesn’t matter if you opt for the original or the remake since the latter is very faithful to the original.
What Dead Space does so well is its psychological damage, the way it primes you for encounters with Necromorphs. You look down one dilapidated hallway and expect a creature to appear, but nothing happens. Again and again as you round every corner, the tension builds until you’re practically in a fetal position. It’s then, when the game has finally broken you, do the Necromorphs attack!
Little Nightmares 1 & 2
Maybe Little Nightmares won’t have you screaming in the middle of the night, but it doesn’t change the fact the game is heavy with atmosphere. The world you inhabit, The Maw, is downright miserable, full of danger, and the environment tells a story just as much as the events that unfold before your eyes.
You get into some pretty hairy situations, too; on more than one occasion, you’ll narrowly escape death. Little Nightmares keeps you at the end of your seat with its tight platforming and clever puzzles. With every successful escape, you’ll get closer and closer to finding out the truth of this dingy, dark world, only for the world to expand in Little Nightmares 2.
The Mortuary Assistant
Okay, so the idea of working at a mortuary is already a disturbing thought. I can’t imagine it being a glorious job, but if you have some morbid curiosity, then The Mortuary Assistant should be right up your alley. You’ll drain the blood from corpses, embalm them, and make them “pretty” again. Oh, and did I mention you’ll be dealing with the paranormal, too?
What a great combination—dead bodies and demons! In addition to preparing corpses, you’ll be banishing demons, too. I know that’s not what you signed up for, but something obviously isn’t right and, well, you don’t have much of a choice in the matter. What’s particularly interesting about The Mortuary Assistant is all the different endings you can get, so there’s some solid replay value here, too.
Resident Evil 2
How about something with a little more action? While I highly recommend playing Resident Evil 4, it’s not nearly as terrifying as Resident Evil 2, so the latter is taking the spot here. The action in RE4 is fun, don’t get me wrong, but for the sake of horror, RE2 is a lot better at tapping into your survival instincts. Also, we’re talking about the remake here (though the original is still solid, if you can forgive the tank controls).
What makes RE2 a blast to play is the marriage of frantic gameplay and puzzles. More often than not, you’re trying to solve said puzzles while zombies are nipping at your ankles. Stopping to take a shot is a gamble, but being too hasty is a great way to lose ammo. On top of that, you’re constantly being pursued by the terrifying—but dapper—Mr. X.
Dead by Daylight
We’ve gone over quite a few spooky horror games that are very personal. You’re experiencing terror by yourself, but what if you could bring a few friends? And what if the horrors you experience aren’t limited to one kind of creature? Well, then you get Dead by Daylight.
Unlike the other entries, this is an online multiplayer game, where you can play as a survivor or a killer. You want to play as Michael Myers? Sure! How about Pinhead? He’s there, too. Even aliens like the Xenomorph, and all the killers have their own unique abilities. It’s a very nerve-racking game of cat-and-mouse!
The Evil Within 1 & 2
If you’re a sucker for paranormal horror and mystery, The Evil Within delivers with surprising ease. At first, it starts off like an episode of a detective show, only for it to immediately segway into a horrific situation. After being knocked out, you’re soon greeted by the not-so-happy mug of some gruesome butcher that I’d hesitate to call human.
Obviously something isn’t right here, given the circumstances, and not just because of the corpses strung up like a meat storage. Soon after you’re dodging traps, monsters, and just generally questioning reality because the world around you likes to change. Keep your wits about you and conserve your ammo if you want to have any hope of surviving.
Some horror games are trying to scare you, whether psychologically or with a few well-placed jump scares. Darkest Dungeon, on the other hand, does it through the anxiety of surviving waves of vagabonds and Lovecraftian creatures. Simply put: Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based roguelike RPG and it makes you fear for the lives of your comrades!
You command a group of adventurers—which come in a variety of classes—that are tasked with clearing out monster-infested areas. It’s no walk in the park, though, and the adventurers you’ve hired are flawed people. Some might swipe loot for themselves or, in the midst of combat, lose their minds and stress out the rest of the group. So, you’re left with a difficult question: Do you push them further in or do you cut your losses?
7 Days to Die
Speaking of surviving, few horror games mix together genres as well as 7 Days to Die does. Sure, you might have played one too many zombie games and it may feel like a tired concept to you, but hear me out. If you loved playing games like Left 4 Dead with your buds back in the day, 7 Days to Die is going to be your next co-op game.
It isn’t just a survival game, it incorporates elements from RPGs, like a perk system, with an extensive crafting system and building mechanics. On top of that, it’s open-world, with plenty of places to scavenge materials, complete quests, and find ideal locations to set up massive, fortified bases. Or you could be a massive jerk and grief other players. Only the strong survive, right?
Compared to the other entries in the Amnesia series, Rebirth has a great balance of all the elements Frictional Games has used in the past. You’re having trouble remembering who you are, light sources are very important, and there are oodles of puzzles to solve. Of course, there are also terrifying monsters trying to scare the bejesus out of you.
More importantly, Amnesia: Rebirth gets the main character right. As you learn more about Tasi’s life, like her relationship with her father and her own family, you really start to root for her. You want her to survive these horrors, not just for the sake of Tasi, but for the baby she’s carrying. And hey, if you want to experience a good story, but suck at survival games, there’s Adventure Mode to make the experience easier!
Speaking of Frictional Games, they also gave us SOMA. If you’re terrified of the ocean, of the enigmatic creatures that might exist down below, SOMA plays on the fears. It then compounds those fears with a mystery, some science fiction, and heavy themes on consciousness.
SOMA really nails tension instead of relying on jump scares. The underwater setting certainly helps, which makes you feel like a rat trapped on a sinking ship. Where could you possibly go? It’s claustrophobic and, on top of that, you’ve got deranged people and machines just waiting to bonk you on the head.
There’s something special about a horror game that can strike fear in your heart without the need for realistic or hyper-realistic graphics. Darkwood does this beautifully with the use of lighting, tone, atmosphere, and sound. This makes for a very chilling experience as you try to survive for as long as possible.
Darkwood makes you cling to light as much as the roaming creatures cling to the dark. You get into this routine of scavenging for materials during the day, so that at night, you’re (hopefully) prepared for the horrors that come knocking, from mobile floor gore to extremely dangerous “red chompers.”
If you watch a lot of horror movies, especially slashers, you know the common thread between many of them are a bunch of hormonal teenagers that may or may not deserve what’s coming to them. What I find so fascinating about Until Dawn is that you can approach the game in one of two ways: to intentionally get the cast killed or try your best to save them.
It’s a very narrative-driven experience, and your decisions can drastically alter the way it unfolds, even decisions you made early on. And with Until Dawn being rather short, you won’t feel pressured to go back. It’s actually better to just live with your decisions and roll with the punches. There’s a lot of replay value here!
How’s that for the best spookiest horror games to play this Halloween? There’s definitely something here for everyone, whether you’re looking for a mix of horror and action, deep horror, or something with a heavy atmosphere. If you have a horror game in mind that you personally love, let us know in the comments. Share your love of horror!
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