Horror video games are some of the oldest Halloween traditions in the industry with early examples, such as Friday The 13th, being infamous for difficulty over actual scares. The Alone in the Dark series brought atmosphere to the point-and-click scene and served as an evolution into an entirely different genre, and Resident Evil famously coined and popularized the term “survival-horror.” Many, many titles have followed to attempt to carve their own niche in a saturated market, but some consumers seem to long for those days as only a few survival-horror games seem to release now. Here are some small games with terrifying potential, and their big brothers that are on the way.
Free games are often put in the same category as online flash or mobile titles, but a lot of users screamed the loudest with the free game Slender: The Eight Pages when it came out last year. Though the sequel, Slender: The Arrival, just came out on last-generation home consoles, a lot of people still argue that the infamous Slender Man creation shines brightest with the simple, straight-forward concept of Eight Pages. The player is a character armed with only a flashlight and intermittent sprint ability while Slender can be lurking behind any structure in the dark, sizable environment. With the collection of each page, all terrifying to study on their own, small factors change; fog rolls a little thicker, the music changes intensity, the animal sounds fade further into the background and Slender becomes more aggressive in his warping pursuit of the collector. The musical stingers and simple sight of Slender’s suit and face is enough to make anyone jump.
Helplessness lends to a sense of fear in video games: a medium where players are often over-powered to a certain degree. Outlast is another title that concocts an environment where the best weapon at the player’s disposal is a dead sprint. The character’s traverse through a sanitarium is lit by a camcorder and found batteries and night vision that drains energy, all the while a slew of genetically altered residents are relentless in their pursuit. Those factors mixed with an unbeatable enemy named Chris Walker that is as imposing as imposing can be, especially when the task of sneaking around the character takes place in a water-filled environment or echoing hallways.
One of the most recent horror video games is actually just a demo of an upcoming title, but has brought Halloween to many people’s minds, months beforehand. Playable Teaser, or P.T., is a compact Playstation 4 exclusive that reinvigorates fear using the same hallway repeatedly with changing factors that leave their mark. What really throws gamers for a loop is that there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to some of the events; the ghost named Lisa, as well as other factors, appear in different spots from session to session, taking away the sense of “been there, done that” that is a comfort in a lot of horror titles. What is intriguing about this hour-or-two length demo is that it is serving as an appetizer to a full game down the road: an equally terrifying and interesting proposition.
Horror video games are also on the way for this month of Halloween on a scale that has been missing the past few holiday seasons. Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is coming with a new title called The Evil Within (Oct. 14) that looks to mix grotesque character design and classic gameplay elements while Alien: Isolation (Oct. 7) has some extensive lore behind its title, and has already delivered scares and screams aplenty. Speaking of Resident Evil, the Resident Evil HD Remake is also coming from Capcom sometime in early 2015 which slaps some new skins on the Gamecube remake of the survival-horror progenitor. This list of triple-A horror video games should breathe some life into a genre that many feel needs it most of all while the above examples are just some that could have players screaming in a dark room this Halloween season.
Opinion by Myles Gann