The Best Horror Video Games to Play This Halloween
The spookiest time of year is just around the corner, and while classic activities like trick-or-treating or costume parties may be on hold because of the pandemic, there are other ways to feel the Halloween spirit from the comfort of your own home, including a good scary video game. The CommRadio Arts & Entertainment Staff lists 10 of the best horror games to scare yourself silly with this Halloween.
WARNING: This article may include minor spoilers for some titles. Read at your own discretion.
Resident Evil 2 (2019)
“Resident Evil 2” is without a doubt one of the strongest horror games ever made and is itself a remake of the game of the same name that came out in 1998. Few horror games balance difficulty and player empowerment as well as this one does.
Telling the story of rookie cop Leon Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield and their escape from the zombie-infested Raccoon City, “Resident Evil 2” is separated by two playthroughs, each with their own unique experiences. As a result, the story of “Resident Evil 2” is simply fantastic.
“Resident Evil 2” is so good at creating tension, as players will be able to hear things like moans or footsteps while walking down a dark hallway, only to be ambushed by a zombie.
However, zombies aren’t the only things players will have to deal with. Just wait until Mr. X shows up. Then players will know the true meaning of fear.
In its action, plot and puzzle-solving, “Resident Evil 2” makes sure that every moment is as terrifying as possible. It’s simply one of the most definitive horror experiences out there. —David Fortunato
Alien: Isolation (2014)
For both fans and newcomers of Ridley Scott’s “Alien” movie franchise, “Alien: Isolation” is one of the best immersive experiences that one can ask for in a horror game.
Taking place 15 years after the original 1979 “Alien” movie, “Alien: Isolation” sees main character Amanda Ripley looking for her mother, who was lost in space. She boards the vast Sevastopol Station spaceship without a crew in search for her mother, and she ends up fending for her life against the immensely dangerous alien Xenomorph.
The Xenomorph is powerful and unpredictable, and players must use their wit and scavenged materials to outsmart the alien and make it out alive.
The game’s biggest selling point is its immersion, as “Alien: Isolation” builds a deep atmosphere through lighting and story to put players right inside Ripley’s shoes during her adventure.
For “Alien” fans and horror enthusiasts looking to be deeply, genuinely scared, “Alien: Isolation” is a must-play. —Jimmy Gonzales
Kinect Games’ ghost-hunting adventure “Phasmophobia” has taken Steam by storm.
Assuming the role of one of four ghost hunters, the player works with a team of other players to find three pieces of evidence to help conclude what kind of ghost is present. These pieces of evidence range from voice boxes, EMF scans, fingerprints, ghost writing and other spooky paraphernalia.
The amount of ghost types is impressive, as the specters present range from banshees to revenants to onis to demons. Each ghost has a different set of traits that distinguishes it from the rest, as well as a corresponding set of evidence.
The ghost occasionally enters a “hunt” mode in which it may kill a player. This is where the game gets truly terrifying, combined with the general ambience the game creates. The ghost can also lock players in rooms, flicker the lights rapidly, throw objects and whisper into the players’ ear.
All this madness creates a truly terrifying yet fun experience, especially with a group of close friends. For a fun and frightening spin on the ghost-hunting genre, “Phasmophobia” is the way to go. —Colton Pleslusky
“Bloodborne,” the famed action-horror RPG released in 2015 and developed by FromSoftware, is cut from the same cloth as many other games in FromSoftware’s famous “Souls” series; that is to say, “Bloodborne” is an immensely challenging game.
But that shouldn’t deter potential players, as “Bloodborne” is not only a fine video game but also one of the best examples of cosmic horror in any form. Players become hunters tasked with exploring the city of Yharnam while looking for a cure to an unknown affliction.
Ultimately, the story of “Bloodborne” takes a back seat to the challenging gameplay and horrific enemies that the player faces. Expect to die a lot, but with each death comes new understanding of the enemy and eventual, ever-so-satisfying victory.
The horror of “Bloodborne” comes from the enemies and Yharnam itself. It takes much inspiration from the works of H.P. Lovecraft while also featuring werewolf-like creatures, ogres, witches and more.
For those looking for a challenge with their scares, “Bloodborne” is the clear answer. —David Fortunato
Dead by Daylight (2016)
“Dead by Daylight” is a multiplayer horror survival game released in 2016 by Behavior Interactive.
In “Dead by Daylight,” a group of players, the survivors, must fix generators that are spawned randomly across the map. By fixing these generators, a gateway opens, allowing the players to leave and successfully “win” the game.
Of course, the challenge lies in the player-controlled killer. It is up to the killer to hunt the survivors, capture them and hang them on large meat hooks across the map. If a survivor is not rescued by another survivor within a certain amount of time, that player’s soul is consumed by The Entity, which is the malevolent being that is the reason for the events of “Dead by Daylight.”
In terms of the playable survivors and killers, the list grows all the time. Both sides of “Dead by Daylight” have myriad characters to play, including guest characters from other popular horror media. Each one has their own set of cosmetics, modifiers and specific abilities that make every character a new and unique experience.
With all the different ways to play, “Dead by Daylight” never loses its terrifying appeal. —Colton Pleslusky
The Evil Within (2014)
“The Evil Within” is a third-person action-horror shooter that takes a lot of inspiration from “Resident Evil 4.” What makes “The Evil Within” different is the focus on psychological horror that other games like this rarely use.
Starting with detective Sebastian Castellanos and his team responding to a mass murder in a mental hospital and quickly spiraling into a strange nightmare world, in “The Evil Within,” it’s up to Castellanos to figure out what is going on and get his team out alive.
The defense arsenal available to the player includes the typical shotgun, a revolver, and even a crossbow that can fire various ammo types, like freeze or shock bolts. Enemies are disturbing and take quite a few shots to bring down, and the boss fights are a real highlight.
“The Evil Within” is a strong psychological horror game that any fan of the “Resident Evil” series or the horror-shooter genre in general should give a try. —David Fortunato
Five Nights at Freddy’s (2014)
Few indie horror series have taken off in recent years quite the way that “Five Nights at Freddy’s” has.
Created by Scott Cawthon, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” sees the player in the first-person POV as a security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza (a parody of Chuck E. Cheese’s) with the goal of surviving for five nights in the security office while five murderous animatronic characters attempt to kill the player.
In order to make it through each of the five nights, which progress in difficulty, the player must use their resources wisely by using the building’s cameras to track the animatronics’ movement without using up all the available battery. If the player is too hasty to use up their resources or too lackadaisical to keep on top of things, a frightening encounter with one of the robotic beasts is sure to be in the player’s future.
The popularity of “Five Nights at Freddy’s” series has skyrocketed, spawning numerous sequels and spin-offs with increasingly complex storylines. But the first is still the best for a short, low-commitment, survival horror experience. —DJ Bauer
In “Outlast,” a single-player, story-driven survival horror game by Red Barrels, the player assumes control of investigative journalist Miles Upshur, who has decided to investigate Mount Massive Asylum in Lake County, Colorado. Using the camcorder and his wits, Miles must survive the nightmares within the asylum to uncover the horrible truths inside.
“Outlast” takes full advantage of terror with one simple gameplay mechanic: the player is completely defenseless. With the only option being to hide, the game forces players to quickly think of how to get away from the various atrocities that haunt the halls of the asylum. This includes ducking into lockers, hiding under tables or escaping behind anything the player can find. But fighting back is not an option. Even then, safety is never assured, as some monsters actively search for the player.
Combined with the dark, gritty atmosphere of the abandoned asylum, Miles Upshur’s shocking and terrifying journey in “Outlast” is one that will keep the audience awake all night long. —Colton Pleslusky
Doki Doki Literature Club (2017)
Looks can be deceiving. That statement may be none more true for any horror game than “Doki Doki Literature Club.”
This indie visual novel developed by Dan Salvato takes on the facade of a light-hearted dating simulator, in which the player joins a high school literature club with the accompaniment of four girls (Sayori, Yuri, Natsuki and Monika), all of whom take on a stereotypical dating sim role. Nothing out of the ordinary, right?
But midway through the game’s story, one of the most shocking twists in gaming history occurs, revealing that “Doki Doki Literature Club” is no ordinary visual novel, but rather a psychological horror game, now replete with disturbing atmosphere, terrifying fourth-wall breaks and more shocking revelations. A full blind playthrough should have the player emotionally drained and reeling in thought for days after the game’s completion. That’s the mark of a truly great horror experience.
While the popularity of “Doki Doki Literature Club” has taken away some of its initial shock value, it remains the perfect game for pulling the rug out from an unsuspecting friend. And even if the player knows what kind of game they’re getting into ahead of time, there’s just no preparing for all the insanity that inevitably goes down. —DJ Bauer
Until Dawn (2015)
Many horror games undergo the rote processes of watching cutscenes and doing tasks in an order mandated by the game’s developers. But “Until Dawn” shakes up the formula by giving players near full control of the story and experience that they have.
“Until Dawn” follows the beaten path as a survival horror game about eight young adults who stay in a cabin in the woods and must survive against unknown cave creatures, local psychopaths and even the friends they came with.
But the real creativity is on display in the freedom that players have in their gameplay experience. Players control each of the eight characters at different times, and based on the decisions they make, the characters will either die or survive until the end of the game.
As a result, there are a tremendous 256 different possible endings, and it is up to the player to control the relationships and choices that the eight characters make, ultimately deciding whether they live or die.
Truly, “Until Dawn” is a fresh, immersive experience for gamers that want captivating survival horror as it best. —Jimmy Gonzales
DJ Bauer is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Fortunato is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Jimmy Gonzales is a sophomore majoring in advertising. To contact him, email jpg5869psu.edu.
Colton Pleslusky is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.