Fall is here, and we’re quickly closing on the busiest time of the season for gaming, but first, we must traverse through the spookiness of Halloween. Here is a list of ten games to play to get you in the mood for the scary times ahead. Please note that this is not a top ten list, but a list featuring some older and newer games that should be played by any gamers who want to experience games with original atmospheres and stories.
Stalker: Call of Pripyat
What would it be like if you were sent into Pripyat, the city that was completely abandoned after Chernobyl’s infamous meltdown? Stalker: Call of Pripyat brings you that feeling. Placed into a world populated with other Stalkers, Bandits, and mutated monstrosities, you fight tooth and nail to accomplish your next goals, whether it be fetching tools for some poor sap who’s too drunk to even stand up, or taking down a group of bandits to help out your Stalker friends. One of the stand-out things while playing was that night is really night, and you are not alone. Constantly being hunted and scavenging for ammunition and other supplies is a truly nail-biting experience, plus Russian accents.
A 2D black and white game featuring a young boy who doesn’t ever talk who, with even the slightest mistake dies in a gruesome way? Yep, sounds like one for the holidays. A puzzle platformer with a dark atmosphere, Limbo excels in engaging you into its environment, with every creak and splatter. You will die many times before you solve each puzzle, bringing a feeling of having to let your character die, before you can advance. The entire thing is chilling. Also, there’s a giant spider; yeah it’s intense.
Following Limbo, it makes sense to talk about Deadlight. A platformer featuring a hardcore no-nonsense lead, who is stuck in a “zombie” apocalypse featuring humans infected and turned into something called shadows. Once again, the true draw to Deadlight is its beautiful attention to detail and its use of the dark and dreary environment. And, unlike other zombie games, you might be able take on a maximum of two shadows at a time, otherwise, you’re dead. There is no mercy if you are caught between a fence and a nice group of those corpse-eating monsters. Tense and pulse-pounding, Deadlight is like Mario, if you could get an axe, and the plumber cussed.
The Binding of Isaac
A boy named Isaac lives with his mother in a small house, when his mother hears a voice from above, telling her to sacrifice him as an offering. In a hasty escape attempt, Isaac dives into the basement, and that is where the game begins. A rogue-like, featuring a completely randomized basement means that you will never experience the same game again. Add this with the tons of items and dark, disgusting enemies, and you’ll have one heck of a dungeon crawling experience. The Binding of Isaac is not for everyone, but if you find shooting at gigantic piles of poo your thing with nothing but your tears, then Isaac delivers in spades.
Five Nights at Freddy’s
A newer indie game that just launched on Steam this year, Five Nights at Freddy’s is the ultimate game to play if you have ever had a fear of the gigantic rat machines at Chuck E’ Cheese. You are tasked as the unfortunate night guard, who I’m guessing didn’t read much of the fine print in his contract. You watch, in a small room, the camera’s surrounding Freddy’s, keeping track of the gigantic animatronic animals as they creep up and down the halls, eventually reaching you. There is a back-up plan; however, if they get too close you can close huge metal doors, effectively sealing you safely in your guard room. There is only one catch for the game, and that is that there is a limited supply of power. You can’t close the doors, use lights, or check the cameras without expending power. Thus you are forced to conserve or die. Five Nights at Freddy’s is a great game to play with friends. The screams that follow from the player are enough to make sure that everyone else has a great time as well.
Spec Ops: The Line
Even though this seems like a strange addition to a group of games featuring horror elements, it actually fits very well. Instead of the horror being that of Halloween, Spec Ops attributes its horror to that of choice and the human psyche. A game best played alone, Spec Ops puts you into choices that shake the very core of your being. A third person cover shooter, with tight mechanics and bright graphics, Spec Ops has the same feeling as Gears of War, except you are more fragile and if strategy is not employed, you will die. Like Isaac, I can’t recommend Spec Ops: The Line to everyone, but if you can play it, it is well-worth it.
State of Decay
We have had a lot of zombie games, A LOT, but State of Decay is a stand-out one. Instead of controlling just one character, you can switch between characters, thus making the group the central focus point of the story and not just a single character. You will search through houses, barns, and other buildings, scrounging for supplies and fighting off the undead. It acts a lot like the Walking Dead show. And just like in the Walking Dead, if a character dies, he/she is dead, they do not respawn. This gives a sense of impending doom as your character is silently sneaking through a building highly populated by zombies. One wrong step, and you’re history and every item that you are carrying must be picked up again by someone else in your group. State of Decay is the zombie game that almost all of us have been waiting for. Plus its got co-op, so you can die in painfully graphic ways with your friends!
The Dead Space series is one that most of us have played, and if you haven’t, remedy that now. Unless you fear some of the creepiest aliens ever seen, then don’t play it. Isaac Clarke is the man with some of the worst luck. A space engineer stuck in many a confined area with a lovely necromorph trying to rip his guts out. Great fun! Truly a landmark in horror gaming, with a surprisingly deep story, Dead Space is great if played in the dark by yourself with headphones on or with the lights on with your friends. And yes, your mom will hate this game.
The Walking Dead: Seasons 1 and 2
Choice and consequence is what Telltales the Walking Dead lives for, and it is awesome. Every single choice matters as you travel through various sections of the story complete with an unbelievable voice cast, insane options, and tear-jerker moments. One of my favorite things about The Walking Dead is that it does not feel like a tie-in game to the show or graphic novel, instead it is its own story and you forget that it even takes place in the same universe as Rick Grimes and his group. Hurry up and play these games now, before Season 3 is out!
Bioshock Infinite is quite possibly one of the best first-person shooters I have ever played, and it does not matter what season it is, it begs to be played, and then replayed. The story is so intricate, the characters so believable, and the shooting so fun that it is terribly hard to find anything wrong with it. Not a horror game by any means, but certainly parts of the game are chilling, the sounds of songbird, the eeriness of Columbia, and the mysteriousness of who Booker is. Do yourself a favor and play Infinite, or if you already have, play it again.