Wednesday, 29 October 2014

6 Ghastly Games for Halloween

This Halloween not all of us will be going out partying. Instead many of us will be locking ourselves into our little gaming caves, and scarring the shit out of ourselves with the best horror games. But while there are many, many great games out there that are worthy of your time, I come to you with a selection of 6 games that I think cover just about every type of horror you could want. These games cover sub-genres of horror such as psychological horror, body horror, slasher horror, comedy horror and, of course, zombie horror. It's impossible to play all of these games on Halloween, I'm sure you'll find something that's right for you. Enjoy!

Resident Evil 4

The first Resident Evil was terrifying. Though there were many scary moments throughout, the overall feeling of tension came from the knowledge that everything inside the mansion was against you, hunting you down and desperately wanted you dead. Apart from your partner with whom you interacted with very rarely, it was a very lonely, isolating and chilling experience. This was expanded on in later games, but by Resident Evil: Code Veronica the series was beginning to lose its way. Code Veronica was a fantastic game in its own right, but it wasn't until 5 years later when the series once again properly made its mark on the horror genre. That game was Resident Evil 4, arguably the best entry in the entire series.

Resident Evil 4 shook up the usual Resident Evil concept. It took the action away from all previously visited locations and planted the player in Spain of all places. Instead of featuring a classic zombie threat, Resident Evil 4's enemies were infected by an unrelated virus, a virus that made its victims powerful, smart and unrelenting. The best moments in Resident Evil 4 come early in the game when your fighting for survival within a small Spanish town. Enemies opens doors, climb through windows and chase you up stairs, which for a Resident Evil game is both new and shocking. If you're looking for the best zombie game ever created, look no further than Resident Evil 4.

Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth

I've always loved the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the author who is considered the master of horror fiction. From works such as At The Mountain of Madness, The Call of Cthulu and Shadow out of Time, his material has been the basis and inspiration for some of the best horror films since his death. However, one medium that has rarely delved into Lovrcraft is gaming. There have been a few games based upon his work, but nothing really worth mentioning. That said, one game released back in 2005 is the perfect Lovecraftian tale that doesn't (at least at first) give the player an arsenal of weapons to take out foes. Instead, most of this game heavily relies on tension, a feeling of helplessness and utter paranoia.

Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a truly excellent game. Based mainly upon Lovecrafts novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth, the game puts the player in the shoes of private investigator Jack Walters who is looking into the case of a missing person. Set amid the backdrop of 1922, Walters ventures to the coastal town of Innsmouth, a town that offers far more intrigue, disturbances and sheer horror than a simple case of a missing person. Dark Corners of the Earth has many brilliant parts throughout, but the best comes about in the level “Attack of the Fishmen”, where as Walters you need to escape a building with enemies hot on your tail. You have no weapons, and you need to solely rely on locking doors behind you, pushing bookcases up against the doors and generally looking for any way to stop them from getting to you. Any screw up and you're dead! Dark Corners of the Earth blends an incredible sense of tension, dark atmosphere and lovecraftian terror.  Play it.

The Evil Within

Though some of the games I'm mentioning on this list aren't new releases, there still haven't been a massive amount of great horror games within the last decade. Back in the day the big dogs in terms of horror gaming were Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Where are they now? Since Team Silent stopping developing Silent Hill titles the series has been milked, ruined and is now solely a product of the West. Resident Evil suffered a similar fate, but while the Silent Hill series has tried to remain true to what came before it, Resident Evil's latest entry was more like Call of Duty than the Resident Evil we all know and love.

However, it's not all doom and gloom as Shinji Mikami -the horror genius who brought us Resident Evil- has created a new horror franchise. Released quite recently for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and PC, The Evil Within gets back to the basics of survival horror, and offers up an experience that is long overdue. Falling very much in line with what Mikami achieved with Resident Evil 4, The Evil Within's scares never come in the form of slow psychological horror, but rather take the violent, in-your-face, gruesome and utterly shocking approach. It works in The Evil Within, and it makes for one of the best horror games in the past decade.

Siren: Blood Curse

In 2003 two of the best horror games were ever released: Silent Hill 3 and Siren. While Silent Hill 3 has its fair share of dedicated fans, the Siren series didn't gain the same traction. It was popular enough to warrant a sequel, sure, but it never reached Silent Hill status. Helmed by Keiichiro Toyama, a designer who was formerly the writer and director of the original Silent Hill, Siren and its sequel were both a terrifying breath of fresh air in the genre. Though the series may no longer continue due to Project Siren now developing the Gravity Rush series, the Playstation 3 did see the release of Siren: Blood Curse; a re-imagining of the original Siren game.

The game revolves around various characters exploring Hanuda Village in Japan, a village that was said to have entirely vanished in 1976. As expected from the eerie set-up, everything doesn't exactly go to plan as they find that the village's inhabitants are now violent, blood thirsty and act as if they're almost possessed by some evil force. The best part about Siren: Blood Curse is that a certain character is able to tap into the vision of these villagers. This leads to some truly heart pounding scenarios. Recently when playing it I was being chased by a possessed woman. I ran into an old Japanese house and quickly hid inside a closet. As she entered the room I tapped into her vision. The game then cut to her point of view. Somewhat obstructed by a hazy white noise effect, I watched from her point-of-view as she frantically searched for me, all the while mumbling, “Help me! Help! Please!!”. Needless to say, I almost dropped a brick or two. Incredible stuff!

Silent Hill 2

I loved the first Silent Hill, but I was generally left unsatisfied by its story. This led to me skipping Silent Hill 2 and going directly onto Silent Hill 3 when it was released. Though I do regret that now, it wasn't that bad as Silent Hill 3 is a direct sequel to the original. However, word started to get through to me that Silent Hill 2 was the crown jewel of the series. Shortly after I delved into the twisted world that is Silent Hill 2, and oh boy is it twisted!

In Silent Hill 2 you take on the role of James Sunderland, a man who receives a letter from his wife urging him to come to the town of Silent Hill. However, there's only one problem- James' wife has been dead for 3 years. Upon arriving at Silent Hill, James comes into contact with various bizarre characters, one of which looks almost identical to his late wife. On a bid to find out if his wife is truly alive, James' journey gets incredibly dark, bleak and  makes for one of the most unnerving and chilling games to date. Everything from the location of Silent Hill, the many f*cked up monsters within the town, and ultimately its shocking conclusion easily makes Silent Hill 2 the best of the franchise.

Deadly Premonition

I can't wait for the new season of Twin Peaks! Seriously. After first watching it in around 2004, I was only left wanting more. But before the latest season was announced, something else eased my Twin Peaks withdrawal. However, what eased the pain wasn't officially Twin Peaks related. Bearing massive resemblances in all but name, Deadly Premonition is a game that features a quirky cop, a dead high-school girl, a homely north-western town in America, bizarre locals, an old woman who speaks to an inanimate object, and a “red room”. So yeah, it's basically Twin Peaks!!

Deadly Premonition is scary, but like Twin Peaks much of its enjoyment is through its humour, weird dialogue and atmosphere, and it has all of that by the bucket load. Though the gameplay may be a bit shaky at times, Deadly Premonition offers up a great open-world, superb RPG elements and one of the best Whodunit stories in gaming for a very long time. If you're looking for a Halloween game with a bit of charm, humour and fun, go for Deadly Premonition.

Denis Murphy

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