It’s time to get spooky! Halloween is almost upon us, which means it’s time for trickery, treats, and hopefully a few scary games to really terrify us. There are so many quality horror games released these days that it’s hard to pick out our favorites.
We’ve spent countless hours running from aliens, fighting cult leaders, chopping zombies to pieces, but when we’re not doing that, we’re scared out of our wits, because these games manage to set up a creepy story and hammer home the terror with disturbing audio. If you’re looking to spice up your Halloween festivities with some scary games, you could do worse than some of these epic frights!
After the less than stellar Alien: Colonial Marines, it was a pleasant surprise to get our hands on Alien: Isolation and play a game that felt like it stuck true to the suspenseful horror of the movies. Taking on the role of Amanda Ripley, Alien: Isolation took players on an intense journey through the seemingly abandoned Sevastopol space station in search of clues of her missing mother.
What followed was an experience so iconic that it made it onto our list of the best Alien games of all time. Part of what made the title so terrifying was the way the alien hunted us around the ship, and just how fragile we are in comparison to the sleek, black monster.
At first, it’s almost impossible to fight back, but as the game progresses, we get resources that help us avoid and hopefully out-smart the alien, with the goal being to finally kill it. However, this goal wouldn’t be so important if it wasn’t for the constant threat of being attacked and killed by the alien. Hearing it crawling around in the vents or stomping down a hall is enough to send a shiver down our spine and cause us to run for the closest locker. We can still hear the terrible hissing it makes.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
There are some games that are borderline too much for some people, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice might come close. The team at Ninja Theory have been able to skilfully navigate the topic of mental health through their absolutely incredible use of audio design and narrative.
Hellblade tells the heart-breaking story of Senua, a tribal woman who has lost everything dear to her. The story takes the player across a morphing and twisting world where the manifestations of Senua’s mind torment the player at every turn. Shadows will shift and change, monsters will appear and flicker, and most disturbing of all, people will speak directly into the player’s mind.
By using binaural recording, Ninja Theory was able to create deeply disturbing audio. Typically, sounds in games will sound as if they’re coming from within the world, but in Hellblade, these sounds are created in such a way that it can be difficult to discern whether the sound is from the game or real life. Make sure you can take full advantage of this incredible audio design by using a gaming headset such as the Stealth 700 on your PlayStation 4 so you can hear every little detail.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a shocking experience that likely only gives a small insight into what someone who suffers from psychosis must go through on a daily basis. If you can manage, it’s well worth exploring this harrowing title.
While Visceral Games is no longer around, we can all still look back and appreciate the effect they’ve had on the gaming world with their cult classic title, Dead Space. As most sci-fi games do, Dead Space is set in the near-to-distant future where ships are designed to rip resources out of a planet, but as usual, something has gone wrong.
Taking on the role of an engineer called Isaac, the mission is twofold, investigate why this planet-cracking ship has gone radio silent and find your wife who’s sent you a distressing message. What follows is a pulse-pounding survival horror game where every creak and groan of the huge gothic ship will have you ready to cut zombies limb-from-limb. There’s nothing quite as terrifying as hearing Isaac’s ragged breathing echoing in our ears as we struggle to get him back inside an airlock!
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Blamed for the murder of a fellow officer, SCU agent Ethan Thomas must dive into the gritty underbelly of Metro City where he encounters the darker and seedier side of life. Condemned takes the player from abandoned subway station to abandoned library to abandoned school, you get the picture. But no matter how many times we slip inside a burned-out building in Condemned, the tension and underlying horror is ever present.
What makes Condemned so appealing is the raw and visceral combat system, where every swing and hit is followed up with bone-crunching audio. It’s unnerving knowing that, at any moment, you could come face-to-face with a psychotic individual wielding a 2×4 and your only option is to beat them to death with an electrical conduit.
The terror doesn’t stop there, because as the darkness swells and the places get creepier, the sounds skittering on the edge of your awareness slowly grate away at your nerves. Nothing is quite as chilling as having to investigate a crime scene while you listen to the eerie sounds coming from outside or in another area of the building.
If you’re a fan of Monolith’s latest title, Middle-earth: Shadow of War – which has some phenomenal audio – consider having a look at their earlier work, as now is the perfect time when Halloween is upon us!
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Any time we get to talk about horror games, we cannot help but want to mention Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Amnesia manages to accomplish what so few games try to achieve: create realistic horror without using jump scares.
Amnesia is set in a gothic tower in Prussia, replete with dungeons, hidden rooms, long hallways, and unyielding, soul-crushing darkness. With nothing but a lantern that runs out of oil, the player must solve puzzles and move around the seemingly abandoned castle without attracting the attention of the hideous monster patrolling its echoing halls.
A lot of the terror comes from the duality of light, it keeps your character sane but it also acts as a beacon for the eldritch horror to find you. The entire game is a balancing act as you try to slink through the creepy halls, hearing the wind rattling the windows as you worry about accidentally bumping into the back of a monster that will tear you apart.
The slow and deliberate building of atmospheric horror makes Amnesia an unsettling experience. You will be so used to horror games throwing jump scares at you, that when playing Amnesia you’ll be on the edge of your seat constantly expecting a scare, but never receiving one. This means your senses are always on high alert, and when you finally do come face-to-face with your nightmare, the terror will be all the more real.
As we draw closer to Halloween and people start preparing costumes and movie nights, now is the perfect time to get your friends together and watch them play through your collection of horrifying titles. Just make sure you sit them down in the dark and that they’re wearing a headset that will give them the most terrifying experience – such as the Stealth 450 for PC, with its DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound. What horror game will you be playing this horror-day season?