It’s that time of the year again when looking good becomes a disadvantage (not that I’m complaining.) It’s that one day when people genuinely admire how you look and dress even though you’re not wearing any costume. I am of course talking about Halloween—a holiday that has become so commercialized it seems that more people are going to parties than cemeteries.
But if parties or cemeteries aren’t your thing, the long break is also a great time to catch up on your gaming. And to capture the mood of Halloween, I’ve done some research to list down some of the best survival/horror games that you probably missed. Forget Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, and those other games that everyone has been playing, and check out these games that are guaranteed to scare the wits out of you.
DARKSEED—It was unfortunate that this game came out in 1992, the same year Wolfenstein 3D, Mortal Kombat and Mario Kart was released, and was part of the reason why it didn’t gain as much recognition from gamers. Developed by the same people who made the Sierra “Quest” series, Darkseed was a point-and-click adventure game, that puts you in the shoes of Mike Dawson. I used shoes since the opening sequence showed Mr. Dawson tightly held in place by alien tendrils, forehead ripped open and an alien embryo being funneled into his brain. The game features a bizarre “carnival-ish” background music and sound effects that create a constant lurking fear that makes even opening doors and looking in mirrors suspenseful and unlike most adventure games, objectives in this game have time limits. But the most notable aspect of this game is the artwork which is created by H.R Giger, the same man who designed the Alien creatures from the movie quadrilogy.
ALIENS VS PREDATOR 2: Speaking of Aliens, AVP2 might not seem like a horror game at all especially if you’re playing one of the alien or predator campaigns. Once you take on the marine missions, however, everything changes. I remember playing this game a few Halloweens back and sure enough, it brought back fears and made me feel like 11 again. Every time I saw little beeping dots on my motion tracker that indicated that an enemy was nearby I would immediately go Rambo and fire everywhere to keep them from getting near, but they still came, and most of the time I died.
SYSTEM SHOCK 2: Another sci-fi horror game would be System Shock 2. Instead of relying on cheap pops, System Shock 2 presents a dystopian future that gives you a feeling of doom right from the start.
You play as an amnesiac who wakes up to find himself alone on a spaceship, with his crew having been turned into hideous monsters. The eerie atmosphere and the disturbing letters of helpless crew members teetering between life and death likewise adds to the fear of the whole situation you are put into. A lot of games have borrowed generously from System Shock 2 and it has often been referred to as the spiritual predecessor of Bioshock.
PENUMBRA: BLACK PLAGUE: Unlike other survival horror games which puts you in control of either a soldier or gives a kick ass weapon, Penumbra’s lets you play as a normal, everyday human who has little to no physical attributes. You play as Philip, a physicist who receives a letter from his supposedly dead father.
Philip goes to Greenland to investigate a mine, gets trapped, wakes up in a prison full of zombies and screaming voices in his head—literally.
ALONE IN THE DARK: Often referred to as the prototype of survival horror games, the original game set the pace for future classics like Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Its scare tactics may be a bit silly in today’s world but back when it was released it sure gave a lot of gamers a reason to keep the lights on.
CALL OF CTHULU: Being alone in some unfamiliar village is scary enough, but when the villagers become hostile and demonic creatures start showing up, you definitely have to check your pants in close intervals.
The gameplay features a type of sanity meter that, if it drops to the lowest point, will result in permanent insanity and possible suicide. Makes you think twice about that exotic getaway you’ve always wanted.
ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITY’S REQUIEM: Another game that uses a sanity meter, but this time as your sanity drops you begin to hallucinate and see things that don’t actually happen. The sanity effects are really quite disturbing and involves the game telling you that your save file is being deleted, the TV suddenly muting then turning on and off, and making your character’s head explode while the body continues to move.
FATAL FRAME SERIES: If you’ve ever watched the movie Shutter and liked it, then this series is definitely for you. The game puts you in the position of a young girl who finds a camera that can banish spirits by taking pictures of them and solve the underlying mysteries of these haunted places. But you just can’t click away like mad, you have to wait till the ghosts gets as close as possible to deal out the most damage. If you have a friend who isn’t afraid of anything, this is the game to test him out.
If you like Japanese horror, two other games worth checking out are Kuon and Siren. Kuon is set during the Heian period of Japan, and follows a young woman in search of her exorcist father. The game is generally dark and all you have is a lantern to illuminate your way. Siren on the other hand takes you to a rural Japanese village that seem to exists in a different dimension of space and time. After a ritual goes horribly wrong, all the villagers turn into zombie-like creatures called shibito. When a shibito finds you it will alert others and begin chasing you, but unlike average zombies, these shibitos don’t saunter—they run, and run fast.
So there you go, some of the finest survival horror games worth checking out, and if those still aren’t enough, you could also check out Condemned, F.E.A.R, Dead Space, Clive Barker’s: Undying, and the recently released Saw game.
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