By Daniel Lein
First and foremost, Happy Halloween. Secondly, I’d like to express my love for this frightful and intense season. There really isn’t any other time of the year where you can justify scaring yourself silly, despite the feeling of fear to be strangely alluring for many of us. If you’re like me and you are looking for a way to scare yourself this Halloween night, might I suggest some horror games built to frighten and disturb. Now, keep in mind, this isn’t a list of the best horror games, but rather a list of great and easily accessible ones. So many of the great horror games have yet to be made easily accessible for this generation of gaming, and therefore are difficult to suggest as quick fixes for a haunting Halloween night!
So many horror games rely on disturbing visuals and a haunting aesthetic to scare their players. Not Dark Echo though. Dark Echo is a horror game played almost entirely with the use of sound. As your invisible character walks through the pitch darkness echoes, depicted as small white lines, reverberate across the screen. By doing this the player can get a rough idea of the landscape. However, if you are too loud the horrifying and unseen monsters will be alerted and will make short work of you. Dark Echo does an amazing job of painting a frightening picture without really using any paint. With only the use of sound, Dark Echo creates a horrifying and mysterious world that scares you every step of the way. Everything from flies buzzing over a dead carcass to the low growls of the creatures themselves help create a truly terrifying atmosphere. What’s possible the best thing about Dark Echo, is that it can be played on pretty much anything. It’s simple design and low price ($0 .99) means it can be easily acquired for iPhone, Android, and Steam.
The fear of the unknown is one of the strongest fears known to man, and though the uncertainty of the upcoming election is horror enough, some of us want something a little less life threatening. For your taste of the unknown I direct you towards Vanish, a freeware indie horror game that can be played on pretty much any computer. In Vanish you are trapped in what seems to be a sewer system and are charged with escaping the area as well as surviving the chase of hungry beasts. The real draw of Vanish is its randomly generated maps. Every Time you play, you will be traveling through a different set of winding corridors, giving that unsettling feeling of being lost. Add some light puzzle solving and a truly immersive atmosphere, and Vanish becomes not only one of the best freeware horror games, but simply an amazing game in its own right.
Five Nights at Freddy’s
In 2014, Five Nights at Freddy’s took youtube by storm, becoming an instant classic. Then. about four games later, the Five Nights at Freddy’s name has been spoiled with lackluster sequels, turning its classic status into little more than a forgotten meme. That being said, the original FNAF is still a tense and unique take on the survival horror genre. As you almost certainly know, Five Nights at Freddy’s puts you in the shoes of a night guard who keeps watch over a seemingly haunted kid’s pizza restaurant. What makes this game so unique is that the player is stationary throughout the entire experience. The player can only hold off the animatronic monsters, rather than escape or defeat them. This gives a palpable sense of helplessness that, when combined with the grotesque and twisted atmosphere, gives a uniquely terrifying experience. What’s more is that you can download this game on iOS, Android, and Steam for a fairly low price.
One of the most underappreciated games on mobile is undoubtedly Dark Meadow, and it’s hard to truly give it its due in this short paragraph. Suffice to say that Dark Meadow is a terrifying mobile game, in both presentation and concept, that forces you into the role of a father who has lost his daughter. You must navigate your way through a dilapidated hospital void of patients and staff members, yet full of monsters and secrets. Blending the first person perspective with the slashy combat of Infinity Blade is how the game is played, however the game is enjoyed through its hauntingly gorgeous location and its use of incremental storytelling. There aren’t really any jump scares in Dark Meadow, but the foreboding sense of madness and confusion go a long way in the “scary” department. Dark Meadow goes for about $0.99 these days, but a free version is also available on iOS. Do yourself a favor this Halloween, and try out this hidden gem.
Resident Evil 4
Though it is by far the most expensive game on this list, Resident Evil 4 is one that should not be missed this Halloween season. Blending a B-horror movie vibe with enough action to satiate a Gears of War fan, Resident Evil 4 delivers an experience that is as unique as it is polished. The pacing is pitch perfect, the action is gory, the dialogue is silly, and the horror is classic. What makes is great as a quick fix is the $19.99 price tag (on current gen) and its availability on at least a half dozen different consoles, Wii, PS2, Xbox 360, PC, and PS4, just to name a few. This ridiculous romp through Hell and back is a horror classic, and is absolutely perfect for Halloween Night.
Personally I’m going to be diving back into Five Nights at Freddy’s for this Halloween. It’s always been a game I’ve played at parties or with friends, but never with the lights off and headphones on. What’s your favorite game to get you in the spoopy mood? Or are you more of a trick-or-treater, clinging on to the last vestiges of our childhood? Whatever the case, I hope you get scared.