It’s that time of the year again. The shops are selling costumes, families are filling up on sweets, and horror fans are seeking out the darkest, goriest films to settle down with. Just another Halloween, fangs, warts and all. However, if you’re a gamer, why think about horror films when you can get your teeth into something much more gripping? That’s the question the Alt:Mag team have been mulling over the past three weeks. Tonight we lift the lid on the best horror games our writers recommend, from the days of the original PlayStation all the way up to the modern generation.
Haunting Ground (2005, PlayStation 2)
Our editor, Lewis, decided to dust off a hidden gem this Halloween: the PS2-exclusive Haunting Ground. “It’s a true hidden gem,” says Lewis, “hidden because it was released at the same time as Resident Evil 4 - another Capcom release - and so was overlooked. You play as Fiona, a young girl who is trapped in a mysterious castle with a dog called Huey. The game is a perfect combination of puzzle-solving and exploring as you make them work together to solve puzzles and reach new areas. Along the way Fiona is stalked by numerous characters who try to halt her progress, and the player has to run and hide to escape their clutches. Their AI is really intelligent, with some going out of their way to trick you into thinking they’ve given up. Unfortunately, Haunting Ground has been forgotten over time and American players will have to spend a pretty penny to get a copy now. Luckily, for Europeans, the game is pretty cheap - so if you find a copy, get it!
Until Dawn (2015, PlayStation 4)
The most recent game on our list was chosen by Liv: the cinematic horror game, Until Dawn. Originally announced for the PS3, it was eventually released exclusively on the PS4 just last year, and has fast become a popular game in the horror community. “With its brilliant use of decision making, relatable character and the classic backdrop of an isolated log cabin, Until Dawn is a must-have for any horror fan. The choice mechanic, known as the Butterfly Effect in-game, really allows you to step into the game and consider the consequences your actions may have. The decisions you make will certainly matter, and with every different choice a different path will open up, leading to multiple endings. There’s something for everyone in Until Dawn - if the sinister Dr. Hill doesn’t scare you, wait until you run into the crazed maniac. And if he doesn’t, wait until you find out what exactly is hiding in the cold night. Just tread carefully; one wrong move could change everything.”
Resident Evil 2 (1998, PlayStation)
Our co-editor Sam Leeves chose an oldie but a goldie: the survival horror classic, Resident Evil 2. “Even though it’s dated now, I’m still in love with RE2. Yes, the graphics are nothing compared to what’s being released now, and the controls are clunky - but that just adds to the fear. The bad graphics mean you have to use your imagination, and the horrible controls make it more difficult to run away, so any encounter could be your last. I remember having to catch my breath every time I went through a door, trying to guess what could be on the other side even though, more often than not, it was the same thing: a horde of flesh-eating undead. Add a fantastically atmospheric score and voice acting that transports you to the zombie B-movies of the seventies, and you have a survival horror the likes of which we rarely see.” RE2 was originally released on the first PlayStation, but has also been ported to the PC, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and even the GameCube. And, as if that wasn’t enough, a remake in the vein of RE0 and the recent remake of RE1 is on the way.
The Last of Us (2013, PlayStation 3)
Ben chose to talk about his favourite horror game, the award-winning masterpiece, The Last of Us. Developed by Naughty Dog (the creators of the original Crash Bandicoot series), Ben called it, “the pinnacle of mastering the balance between storytelling and survival gameplay. The stealth, shooting and weapon crafting are big selling points; and it’s fun throwing Molotov cocktails at raging fungal zombies. It’s one of the only games in recent memory that has made me shed a tear within the first fifteen minutes (thanks to an amazing level of voice acting by Troy Baker).”
Originally developed as an exclusive for the PlayStation 3, The Last of Us was critically acclaimed for its story, characters and stealth-oriented gameplay, and is now on the PS4 in the form of a remastered edition.
For me (Harrison) it was hard to pick one game to write about. In the end, I picked one that wasn’t originally released on the PlayStation consoles to break the monotony: Resident Evil: Revelations. Although not as acclaimed as RE2 was, the game still made a splash when it first arrived on 3DS because it took the best elements of the old games and married them together with the new. Confined spaces, limited ammo, hordes of hungry monsters - yes, it’s got them all. Put them together with the controls of RE5 and what do you get? A surprisingly good game that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its console brethren. It certainly helps that the setting - an abandoned cruise liner - evokes the dark corridors of the Spencer Mansion with a watery twist.
RE: Revelations was originally released on 3DS, but is now available on last-gen consoles and PC.
Louis got in on the act and gave us his piece on one of the best, and scariest, games based on a film. “For me,” he says, “the game that has brought on the most bouts of anxious sweating is Alien: Isolation. As a huge fan of the series, I snatched the game up hoping it would bring back the fear the original movie left me in. The exhilaration you feel just hiding in a locker, or cowering under a desk while the Alien skulks around for you, is very addictive. The DLC wasn’t as substantial as what drew me in, but I still enjoyed it. Although I loved how a video game could make me hold my breath in fear and start sweating profusely, I didn’t appreciate the amount of laundry I’d be doing.”
Isolation was released on Steam and consoles two years ago, and has earned critical acclaim and various awards including PC Gamer’s Game of the Year, the BAFTAs’ Audio Achievement and Kotaku’s Biggest Surprise of the Year.
Do you agree with our choices? Are there any other horror games you would recommend this Halloween? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below or by on our Facebook or Twitter pages..