The pumpkins are lit and orange is having its annual come-back, which can mean only one thing – it’s Halloween. Everyone has their favourite holiday, but here at Vampire Squid, it’s fair to say we’re pretty big fans of Halloween and all the horror that it brings.
Halloween is the perfect chance to dress up as your favourite horror icons and watch some great films, but it’s also an opportunity to play some incredible games. Horror is a fantastic genre in any medium, but in games it’s different. You are in control, you make the decisions, and that can be truly terrifying.
If you’re brave enough, check out a few of the best games currently available on this console generation for a seriously scary way to dive into Halloween 2019.
The best Alien game is the one that sticks closely to what makes the films so impressive. Alien: Isolation expertly portrays the constant fear Ripley feels all the way through the original film, as she’s stalked by one of cinema’s greatest monsters. This time, however, the game reshapes this utter terror through the eyes of Ripley’s daughter, Amanda.
As Amanda, your goal is to try and find your mother on an abandoned space station. The only things to keep you company are some very creepy robots, hostile humans and the un-killable Xenomorph constantly stalking you. This means that your best chance of getting through the game is with stealth. The AI of the Xenomorph does a great job of keeping you on your toes, however, as it’s extremely unpredictable and rarely follows any kind of pattern, which allows for some extreme tension to build up. Along with the thrills Alien: Isolation provides, it also does a stellar job of recreating the atmosphere of the films, perfectly emulating the environments and aesthetic of the futuristic space thriller.
Alien: Isolation is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch.
If you know anything about the games that have come from Japanese studio From Software, it’s that their games are hard as nails. Not an I’ll-try-again-tomorrow hard, but a might-break-the-controller hard. This game may not be for you, and Bloodborne is certainly one of the more unique games to make this list, but it may also be the closest on this list to a genuine masterpiece. Like other games of its style, there’s a sprawling world with vast amounts of lore, deep RPG mechanics, and brutal combat to master. Add to that the horror element that’s heavily inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and you’re in for a hell of a ride.
At this point, it’s fair to assume that, although inspired by horror, an action RPG is not going to be particularly scary. Admittedly, there isn’t an abundance of jump-scares, but there is very little in this game that isn’t going to attempt to kill you. The streets are cobbled, coated in blood, and the screams of beasts bounce off the gothic landscapes, with all manor of monstrosities ready to destroy you at any time. What it lacks in jump-scares it makes up for in atmosphere and tension.
Bloodborne is a PS4 exclusive.
The Last of Us Remastered
The Last of Us is considered to be one of the greatest games of all time. It’s the perfect game to play this Halloween, not just because it’s incredibly unnerving, but also because The Last of Us II has been announced for next February. Its story is compelling and the relationship between the two protagonists of the game, Joel and Ellie, is arguably one of the greatest relationships to have been portrayed in game form.
The Last of Us is set against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse, but this isn’t just another zombie game. Unlike other zombie titles, where the goal is to mow down zombies for a laugh and see how much of the hall you can redecorate with a nice shade of claret, The Last of Us is first and foremost about survival. You must sneak your way past enemies, whether that enemy be a clicker – a terrifying zombie whose only sense is its hearing, and makes an unnerving clicking sound as it tracks you down – or, even more unpleasantly, a group of humans who simply have a lust for blood in this world of anarchy. All of this is done with limited resources and ammo, ensuring you exercise caution wherever possible.
The plot of the game is simple enough. Joel, a smuggler, needs to export Ellie, a girl in her early teens, across the US as safely as possible. Ellie is immune to the fungal infection that’s been plaguing humanity for the past 20 years, making her extremely precious cargo. She may be the secret to solving the crisis, but she may also be the one thing that Joel has been searching for since the virus first broke out, which becomes apparent as the game goes on and they grow to rely on one another more as a father-daughter duo. What makes this game most fascinating has to be seeing a post-apocalyptic world through the eyes of someone who has never known it another way.
The Last of Us is a PlayStation exclusive.
Little Nightmares is a charming entry to the horror genre, and the shortest game to make this list. It’s a side-scrolling puzzle platformer from Swedish indie studio Tarsier Studios. You play as Six, a little girl in a yellow raincoat who is trying to escape from a ship called The Maw. The Maw is filled with spine-chilling monsters who are set on preventing you from escaping the confines of the cage they have kept you starving in. On her way out of the ship, Six will need to solve puzzles to progress, with her tiny frame being used as a useful tool to escape the huge (in comparison) monsters that are chasing her.
Little Nightmares is an easy-to-consume tale. With a run time of around three hours, it does a good job of making you want more without dwindling into detail. Along the way, there are a few gasp-worthy moments and distressing images that will stick with you, even if the cutesy art style has tricked you into feeling comforted. The less said about Little Nightmares the better, as it’s something that is at its best when experienced first-hand without an explanation. As the game is so short, there’s no excuse not to try this little horror gem. It’s also another game with a sequel coming out next year, making Halloween 2019 the perfect time to experience it.
Little Nightmares is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.
Developed by Red Barrels Inc., Outlast is one of the scariest experiences available. From start to finish, it’s relentless. The worst thing about this game is that you’re completely defenceless against anything that comes your way. The only things you have to get you through this nightmare are a video camera, equipped with night vision, and your wits.
You take control of Miles Upshur, an investigative freelance journalist who has had the brilliant idea to go searching around a supposedly abandoned psychiatric hospital. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the hospital, in fact, not abandoned. As previously mentioned, Miles doesn’t have a lot on him, and as the story progresses, it becomes less about figuring out what happened at Mount Massive Asylum and more of a hunt for video camera batteries as you attempt to escape. Outlast has everything a good horror game should – it’s not too long, the atmosphere is incredibly haunting, it’s rife with jump-scares, and there is literally nothing you can do to defend yourself.
Outlast is available on PS4, Xbox One, Mac, PC and Nintendo Switch.
Resident Evil 2 Remastered
Resident Evil 2 was one of the best games of the 90s, and 20 years later, its remaster has made it one of the best games of this year. Resident Evil 2 Remastered doesn’t merely put a fresh coat of paint on a great game – instead, it completely rebuilds it. Everything but the story has been changed, and it looks absolutely stunning. Along with a visual upgrade, the controls were upgraded to suit the 21st century. Long gone are the tank controls and locked camera angles of the original – they have been replaced, making the game feel like a third-person shooter built for today, which is exactly what it is. Resident Evil 2 Remastered is, more or less, a new game.
On this gen, there have been two new Resident Evil games: this one and Resident Evil VII, along with countless re-releases. Both of the new games could have made this list, but there’s a reason why Resident Evil 2 gets the nod. Although it looks and feels like a modern game, the story is not. There is a certain charm to the old-school survival horror game that just can’t be beaten. Some of the dialogue may be cheesy and slightly dated, but not much comes close to rationing your bullets and managing your limited carry space as you battle against some good ol’ zombies. Hopefully this return to its best for the franchise also means a lot more great horror games from developer Capcom.
Available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
If you’ve ever watched a teen slasher and thought “I’d do that differently”, then this is your chance to prove it. Until Dawn is the teen slasher game you never knew you needed. It follows a group of teenagers – with motion capture done by genuine hollywood stars, including Oscar-winning actor Rami Malek – who have taken a cheeky break to a very isolated resort in the mountains (of course). Although at times it can be rather cringe-worthy, this is intentional and it never pulls its punches. At any time, a wrong decision could lead to losing a member of the party – forever – and when they die, it’s satisfyingly grotesque. Until Dawn also has some very good twists and turns up its sleeve to keep things fresh.
You control the game’s players and control their decisions. Each decision you make has a ripple effect on the other characters in the game and their relationships. The aim would be to finish the game with as many characters alive as possible, but if it was that easy then there really wouldn’t be much point. What also makes Until Dawn great for this coming Halloween is that it’s the perfect game to play in a group. Helping one another make decisions throughout the story, its diverse cast lends itself perfectly to co-op play.
Until Dawn is PS4 Exclusive.