Hello boys and ghouls. Halloween is here once again, so what better time to indulge in a little horror? Join us for dark trip through PC gaming history for a few horror games to help up your scare factor for Halloween. But first, a quick rundown on what you'll find inside.
What this list will include: PC horror games complete with links to where you can find them, many of which are on sale for Halloween.
What this list won't include: Non-PC games, games no longer available, or games that rank high on the suck-o-meter.
Remember the ground rules for horror games folks: lights out, headsets on, and volume up. That said, letÂs get started.
Outlast is the newest game that youÂll see on this list but it has earned its place. While it may be a little light on the gameplay mechanics, the one thing that Outlast does well is scare the living hell out of you. Outlast is similar to games like Penumbra, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and Slenderman: The Arrival, where you find yourself isolated in a creepy environment and have no real way to fight your enemies. So you have two choices - run and hide, maybe eluding your pursuer, or you can stand fast and die a horrible death while screaming in the dark. And you will scream.
In Outlast, you take on the role of a freelance journalist investigating allegations of strange happenings at the recently re-opened Mount Massive Asylum. As soon as the you make entry into the asylum things go from bad to insanely psycho banana nuts and escalates from there. Pretty soon youÂre up to your neck in strange creatures that want nothing more than to strip the flesh from your body, and some whack job doctor that wants you to be the author of his Book of Crazy. Much of the Asylum is dark, causing you to rely on the night vision setting of your camera while juggling your limited battery supply. Suffice to say, Outlast is all about the scare but little else. But if you want something that will get your adrenaline pumping and keep you on the edge of your seat with scares, IÂd recommend giving this one a try.
#7: Alan Wake
All good horror writers are capable of crafting an atmosphere filled with untold terrors from the darkest corners of their mind. But what happens when those terrors take control and have you writing a horror that is really happening, turning your words into the instruments of death and horror. In a sense that is partly the premise of Alan Wake.
Without going too deep into spoiler territory, Alan Wake is one of those games that I recommend every horror fan check out. Remedy shows a command of their craft with Alan Wake, creating both an atmospheric horror gem and an intriguing story, one of which comes with the odd twist of revealing itself to the player through pages found hidden throughout the world. The pages, part of a manuscript, often tell the player whatÂs going to happen just before it actually does. And to RemedyÂs credit that just makes things even creepier.
Finding a random page in the woods after fleeing from things trying to make you one of the living impaired may seem a bit odd, but this odd feature lends itself well to the horror atmosphere. One minute you're basking in the light of safety, remembering its detailed description of hw you eluded the shadowy terrors chasing you through the forest to the safe haven. But then a feeling of dread will slowly wash over you as you recall the second half of the page, where the lights go out and the shadows return. And just as you recall that passage, the lights begin to flicker. Luckily, you brought your flashlight...right?
And thatÂs one of the many things that makes Alan Wake fun, that and the fact that darkness itself is even a villain, giving you a good incentive to actually go into the light. That's a Poltergeist reference so watch the movie if you had to look it up. You're welcome.
You can play the original Alan Wake or its standalone spinoff Alan Wake: American Nightmare. American Nightmare is its own game and doesn't require that you've played the original to know what's going on, but I do recommend both if you're a fan of the horror game.
#6: Dead Space
If youÂre a fan of movies like Event Horizon and John CarpenterÂs 1982 movie The Thing (enjoy those for Halloween), Dead Space may be a game right up your alley. The original Dead Space is very atmospheric, relying on not only the creatures lurking in the dark to scare you, but the cold dark of space as well. And youÂll find yourself facing ample dangers from both, making it, in my opinion, the best game in the trilogy.
Players take on the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer aboard the USG Kellion, who finds himself stranded aboard the mining ship USG Ishimura along with a few surviving members of his crew after their ship crashes into the Ishimura bay. What follows is a dark story about a twisted religion, a missing love interest, ancient relics, and mutated necromorphs. Dead Space, unlike its following sequels, plays heavily on psychological scares, often making you see things that may or may not be there. And of the three games, the original is by far the most graphic and detailed, offering an extensive look at the various types of necromorphs as well as how their transformations occur in all its horrific glory.
Dead Space consists of three games currently. The first two games in the series are the more horror themed with the third being more action co-op shooter and less horror. So if youÂre in this for some good single player horror fun, Dead Space and Dead Space 2 get my recommendations. For less horror and more co-op, try Dead Space 3.
#5: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
In 1995 a PC game was released based on a short story written by Harlan Ellison titled I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. The game, which bears the same title as the story, is a horror-themed point-and-click adventure game co-developed by The Dreamers Guild and Harlan Ellison, who also provided some creepy voice work for the game.
If you donÂt think that a game from 1995 can creep you out, think again. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is very adept at doing just that. Like the short story, the game is set in a post-apocalyptic future where a supercomputer named AM has wiped out all of humanity. The only five people known to have survived are being kept alive and held in captivity by AM. AM, who has a burning hatred for humanity, has fed that hatred by endlessly torturing the five individuals and preventing them from dying for more than a century, essentially locking them into a perpetual nightmare of their own personal versions of hell.
But one day AM decides to give his chew toys a chance to undertake a quest specially tailored to each of their own dark pasts. This is where the game begins and the story delves into its dark themes involving murder, guilt, sacrifices, and genocide. If all of that sounds troubling, you should probably skip this one. But for the rest Â which of you would like to play my little game?
When it comes to FMV games, there are very few that are entertaining enough to recommend, but this is one of those few cases to make an exception. Phantasmagoria is a horror-themed FMV game from the mid-90s, which offers one part cheesy game and one part not-too-bad FMV horror movie. But one of its rarer qualities given the time that it was released is the fact that you get to play as the female protagonist, Adrienne Delaney.
At launch, Phantasmagoria was that game that fit into the news mediaÂs special place for claiming that video games were corrupting our youth. This was in no small part to Phantasmagoria's graphic content, which includes everything from sadistic torture, brutal murders, demons, possession, hideous death scenes, and one short very controversial rape scene, which was the source of much of the outcry when the game first came out. Even for this age of gaming, Phantasmagoria is a relatively dark game, but one worth a play if you havenÂt had the chance to experience it for yourself. Just expect the usual FMV tropes and gameplay limitations and try to have some fun with it. If you can do that you'll find that Phantasmagoria is an amusing horror game complete with an over-the-top villain.
#3: Doom 3: BFG Edition
ItÂs kind of hard to go wrong with zombies, demons, and all of Hell's minions unleashed on Mars. And maybe thatÂs why Doom 3 is so fun. While Doom 3Âs AI may not be the brightest, its atmosphere is as creepy as they come.
You take on the role of Generic Space Marine 01 (thatÂs what weÂre going with) freshly deployed to Mars. After you arrive and go through a brief tutorial introduction to the controls by following your orders and meeting up with your commanding officer, all hell breaks loose...quite literally. From there itÂs all about surviving the demonic invasion with an arsenal of big guns, including the BFG, a Doom classic.
Similar to Dead Space in some ways, Doom 3 is an atmospheric horror that relies heavily on building a tense atmosphere, leading up to the scares, which can come in jump scare form or something a little less predictable. Suffice to say, itÂs hard to go wrong with an atmospheric horror set on Mars that puts you in the role of a space marine to fight off mutated humans and invading demons from the gates of Hell while trying to find a demonic artifact with unholy powers. Ok, maybe when you say it like that it sounds a bit silly but the game is well worth a play if you havenÂt tried it already.
If you decide to give this one a try, be sure to pick up the BFG Edition for the extra missions and included copies of Doom and Doom 2.
Availability: Doom 3: BFG Edition
#2 The Walking Dead
TellTaleÂs The Walking Dead is a masterful piece of storytelling. And while the gameplay can be a bit slower than many other games given its extensive focus on the narrative, The Walking Dead has plenty of moments that will give you pause, make you jump, and tie your stomach in knots. Like the television show and graphic novels, the story will draw you in, getting you invested in the well-written characters, which was topped off by fantastic voice work. Your decisions through the story can and will save members of your group or result in their death, and as with much of Robert Kirkman's work, when something horrible happens, it will have an impact.
Perhaps the greatest strength of The Walking Dead is Clementine, a child character that you'll encounter early. This character could have been easily messed up, but TellTale's writing of Clementine gave her life, and more importantly, made her likeable. And she becomes the key driving force of the story. You will want to protect her, and that is a sign of masterful writing.
If you like zombies and The Walking Dead, this is pretty much the best game currently under the license, and one that I highly recommend if youÂre a fan of the franchise. And with a Season Two episodic run already announced, you may want to get started.
#1: State of Decay
You canÂt have a good horror lineup without some zombie bashing and apocalyptic survival fun, and thatÂs where State of Decay comes in. Currently available on Steam Early Access, State of Decay is an open-world zombie survival game set in a town overrun by zombies.
One of State of DecayÂs greatest strengths lies in an area that will be a turn off to some people and that is permadeath. When starting out in State of Decay, players begin as Marcus but can take over as other characters in their enclave once theyÂve advanced the story and befriended them. Characters can be leveled up and specialized in certain skills and weapons, making them useful, valuable, and unique. And thatÂs where State of DecayÂs permadeath sting comes in as losing one of these valuable people to a zombie attack can hurt. And once they're gone, they're gone. There's no going back for a do-over.
Through all of that, youÂll also need to scavenge supplies, build base defenses, and construct facilities to repair vehicles, weapons, store supplies, and construct medical facilities to combat potential sicknesses within your community of survivors as well as recover from wounds. You'll also need to recruit survivors with specific skill sets such as medical specialists and mechanics to build certain upgrades.
While the story may seem a bit rushed, the real meat of the game is its simulation of surviving the zombie outbreak and escaping Trumbull Valley without becoming zombie chow. State of Decay does this part well and will soon be receiving a new sandbox survival mode in its upcoming Breakdown DLC.
And that concludes our spooktacular list of horror-filled fun. Feel free to post your own suggestions below and have a safe and happy Halloween.