What spooky, creepy or otherwise nasty games would I recommend here at Gameblob? The criteria are simple, they have to be games from this console generation, or from within the last 5 years on the PC. This isn’t just a list of “survival horror” games and it’s certainly not a top list of the scariest. Not everyone wants to be traumatised by their games. Whether you’re up for some cute monster mayhem or something psychologically deep, there’s something here for all tastes.
13. Age Of Zombies (iOS, PSP, Android) – Halfbrick
Originally a “twin stick” style shooter for the PSP, a superior port then worked it’s way to iOS and Android. Before anyone complains that the iPhone has no dual analogue sticks note that it plays much better with 360 degree aiming than d-pad aiming. A great sense of humour and classic swarm gameplay coupled with adoreable pixel graphics make this one of the best horror themed action games available for handhelds. It’s cheap too.
12. InFamous 2 : Festival of Blood (PS3) – Sucker Punch
As a stand-alone “what if?” expansion does as Undead Nightmare did for Red Dead Redemption before it, but for InFamous – and with vampires. Cole Mcgrath gets bitten and has just one night to reverse the curse and stop a vampire queen from taking over the city of New Marais. Adds a lot of new gameplay mechanics to an already brimming title and lets the player have a lot of fun feeding on the innocent and using evil powers. A short diversion but if you feel like building something spooky for halloween it also unlocks all the new vampire props and skills for Infamous 2’s level editor. Worth a shot as there aren’t many good vampire games around these days.
11. Shadows Of The Damned (PS3/Xbox 360) – Grasshopper Manufacture/EA
Pure unadulterated ridiculousness. Everything about SotD is tongue-in cheek, laced with innuendo, crazy level design and preposterous story development. Garcia Hotspur and his talking skull/sword/motorbike “Johnson” kick demon butt to save Garcia’s girlfriend from the underworld. This isn’t a game that can easily be explained, it really has to be experienced. Music by Akira Yamaoka. Yes!
10. Plants VS Zombies (iOS, DS, PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox360, Google Chrome, Android) – PopCap/EA
PopCap’s horticultural tower defence game has become a modern classic. Released on almost every conceivable platform, it’s a fun, simple game with enough depth to make playing through the campaign a joy. It’s also funny, and great for short play sessions. Later console ports have included multiplayer modes too, making it a fun halloween distraction.
9. Dead Island (PC, PS3, Xbox360) – Techland
Open world zombie smashing on a post-outbreak resort island. Where L4D does well on characterisation and rapid-fire action, Dead Island instead is a surprisingly traditional first person RPG with weapon crafting and branching skill trees. A game that divided critics, if you can stomach a few glitches and irritating characters along with your gore there’s a lot of fun to be had here, especially with friends.
8. Dead Rising / Dead Rising 2 / DR2: Off The Record (PC, PS3, Xbox360) – Capcom
You can’t go wrong with any of these three. Off The Record offers the most bells and whistles but the original (Xbox360) title has a charm of it’s own. Who hasn’t wanted to relive some of the Dawn Of The Dead style mall-based craziness? Whether you play as Frank or Chuck, there’s almost infinite fun to be had mashing random objects into unsuspecting zombies, pile driving them or playing hit and run with shopping trollies. Taking photos of the undead is also a laugh, so Frank and his camera get my vote.
7. Alan Wake (Xbox360) – Remedy
A great interactive thriller, but not a scary game by any means. The atmosphere and spooky story make it a good yarn to while away the long autumn nights. If you like satisfying combat and/or Stephen King, Alan Wake comes highly recommended. It re-writes a lot of rules of in game storytelling and can be ran through pretty quickly. I recently reviewed Alan Wake here. (4/5)
6. Siren: Blood Curse (PS3) – Sony Japan Studio
An under-appreciated gem. A remake of “Forbidden Siren” (PS2) with new streamlined (read: fixed) gameplay and a cast of western characters visiting a small japanese village to film a documentary. Fresh and oppressive, the dependance on stealth has made the Siren games an acquired taste. Mind-jacking the villagers to see where they’re looking so you can sneak past is tense and unique, and the story throws some shocking surprises at you. This game probably crept me out more than any other on the list. Saying that, unless you can find a boxed copy, it can be a hassle downloading each of the episodes individually. What were they thinking?
5. Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare (Xbox360, PS3) – Rockstar
A stand-alone spinoff that takes place in an alternate RDR timeline, one where John Marston struggles to find a cure to the zombie plague that has taken his family and almost everyone else. A hilarious change of pace from the gritty pseudo-realism of the main game, and surprisingly one of the greatest, most authentic feeling zombie games yet. Probably the only one that will ever feature zombie bigfoot too. Awesome single player, and has some compelling multiplayer modes to boot! Wouldn’t it be great if games like this had split screen?
4. Costume Quest (PC, PS3, Xbox360) – Double Fine
What could be more Halloweeny than a game about Halloween? A nostalgic nod to everything that makes the night amazing as a kid. Wicked moblins have kidnapped your sibling and you, along with other kids who join your party must fight to save her. Trick or treating to collect sweets along the way, as well as building costumes with their own special skills. Candy is the currency in this game and the costumes take centre stage as something akin to character classes. At it’s heart it plays just like a JRPG, with turn based combat, and the humour is the usual sarcastic and well observed Double Fine fare. One of the few games on the list that’s child friendly, and a fun, affordable few hours of play!
3. Dead Space 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox360) – Visceral/EA
Dead Space 2 is the most visceral (groan) traditionally action-packed title on the list. Lots of psychological underpinnings to a dark roller-coaster ride as Isaac Clark once again faces an outbreak of disgusting necromorph creatures, this time aboard a space station. I have lots of favorite parts to Dead Space 2. Dead Space 2 is pretty much the best haunted house attraction ever.
2. Left 4 Dead / Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox360, PC, Mac) – Valve
If you have 1-3 friends around this is a complete no brainer. (heh, brains) A fast, relentless trip through one zombie infested locale after another. Made great by both its gameplay, modular design and the characterisation of the human cast, there really isn’t much to say about L4D that any gamer won’t already know. This should be in everyone’s collection for LAN parties and halloween is the perfect occasion!
1. Amnesia The Dark Descent. (PC, Mac) – Frictional Games
Probably the most terrifying game to bless any platform in recent years. A deliciously dark game with a complex and well realised story. The atmosphere, lighting and treatment of the enemies is exceptional. Play it in a dark room with the volume up, preferably alone. You can’t fight back, so you’d better get used to hiding! Frictional’s earlier titles – the Penumbra series – are worth a look too if you can’t get enough of the Amnesia recipe.
There are a lot more games that deserve to be on this list, but it had to end somewhere. Here are some more suggestions!
Minecraft. (PC, Mac, Linux) The only reason I’ve not put it on this list is because it’s still in Beta. Obviously Minecraft can be atmospheric and creepy, but it can be truly terrifying on “Hardcore” mode. Imagine building a world, and then dying, never to see that world again? Nothing compares to that. I’m almost shaking just thinking about it! Even the most puny of enemies becomes a harbinger of unspeakable dread if it can rob you of weeks of work. AARRGH!
Zombie Smash (iOS) Few things are as fun as picking up zombies and throwing them at each other. A zombie-based tower defence game designed with multi-touch in mind. Good light-hearted and original fun. Well worth the minuscule asking price.
Dead Nation. (PS3) A two player stick shooter with a lot of grit, gorgeous graphics and tight gameplay. By Housemarque of Super Stardust fame. An undeniably polished and deserving title which has recently seen its first DLC pack released.
Dark Meadow (iOS) Pretty, clever and a great achievement. If you’re after a deep survival horror game for iOS, this is it. Repetitive but with a rich story. Games like this show how quality titles don’t need massive budgets, and yes – they do come on all platforms, even phones.
Limbo. (PC, PS3, Xbox360) Physics based puzzle-platforming in a mysterious and haunting side-scrolling environment. With an art style akin to shadow puppets lost in the fog, and some ambiguity to the story and goals, Limbo is a dark, bitter game in an accessible shell. Beautiful sound design helps immerse and the whole experience is unnerving, violent and just all-round odd.
There are no Silent Hill titles on this list!? Perhaps Shattered memories deserves a spot, but I’ve not played it so can’t really comment. The same applies to Deadly Premonition and COD: Zombies Nobody I know has played it.
I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!! (xbox360) 1 – 4 player retro twin-stick shooter heaven. Not even sure if it belongs anywhere on a list like this, but hell… Zombies? One of the most (annoyingly) memorable soundtracks ever.
Little Big Planet (PS3) has hundreds of spooky or halloween themed levels made by players. Some are alarmingly atmospheric considering what’s usual for the game. LBP – the game that just keeps on giving?
Killing Floor. (PC/Mac) A nuts and bolts FPS with character classes and skill levelling. A very enjoyable game you can easily sink hours into. Very repetitive hours, mind you. Only worth playing with friends or online, but the player base is welcoming and the feeling of being overpowered is stronger here than elsewhere. Worth it for the unique cocktail of desperation and panic that the game forces down your throat.
So there you have it. That’s quite a lot of games to be working with! What would your recommendations be? Are there any glaring omissions? What’s your favourite horror-themed game of this generation? What will you be playing tonight between other festivities? Have a great night!
NB: I knew I’d forget something. House Of The Dead Overkill! I deserve to suffer like G did! Also, Dead Space Extraction! We’re really spoilt for choice, aren’t we?