This time of the year brings gamers to play specific titles. I’m talking about horror and survival horror titles. Plenty of great horror games from the pixel era to the polygon era are broken out every Halloween. It seems these games are trending in a better direction, where as horror movies have really started to fall off. Today, we rate our top 25 games to play for Halloween. These games create scares, a bleak atmosphere, or are just spooky fun. We have aimed for a wide variety of choices and gameplay across different eras. If you have passed on some or just strangely haven’t heard of any of these titles, maybe it’s time to give them a try. Playing in the dark is advised, recommended, and encouraged.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
What has become a cult classic and a forgotten launch title for the Xbox 360, Condemned: Criminal Origins is a psychological thriller with focus on melee combat. A bit different than the norm when it comes to horror titles, it set a basis that would be used later on with a few other titles. The game is played in first person and players could improvise with grabbing weapons. The setting included crime scene investigations where players would collect evidence. The game offers a good bit of scares.
In the era of mid-90s survival horror titles, D was a competitor with its different style of setup. The game featured multiple endings with a two hour time limit. You play as Laura Harris and investigate why her father goes on a murder rampage. Starting in a hospital, Laura closes her eyes and wakes up in a castle. With a story focused on violence and cannibalism, the title definitely stands out. If you can get over the really dated visuals, the game received solid reviews when it was released. However, Game Informer wasn’t a fan as it was rated one of the worst horror games of all-time. It’s still worth trying out.
Dead Nation is a top-down, fast paced action game that limits your ammo and uses lighting to get you killed. Using the right-stick on your controller to aim while moving with the left, it uses a different control scheme that works. Co-op play while taking down hordes of zombies and the occasional boss is fun yet difficult. The soundtrack is amazing and the game tracks worldwide stats of deaths. The PS4 port really cleans up the visuals.
When Dead Rising came out, it was the vision of what fans wanted Resident Evil to be for so long. A massive locations with tons of zombies and the ability to use almost anything as a weapon. While the game certainly had its dark tones, there was enough comedic relief within the game to take the serious-ness out of it. The opening video for the game is pretty bleak, and the amount of zombies that build up over time is certainly over-whelming. Obviously the series has been successful as the newest version allows you to go through an entire city.
During a time when the term “survival horror” took a back seat, Dead Space led the way of action horror with jump scares and nightmarish creatures. Progressing through the game entirely on edge, this was the closest thing to an Aliens game that was enjoyable.
That music, those sound effects, nothing was more eerie on an old PC than the original DOOM. DOOM 3 is a whole other monster in itself, but for the time, this game was scary. From the different monsters to the bleak, horrific level design, DOOM is truly a horror game.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
One of the GameCube’s exclusives that isn’t brought up much, this cult horror game went outside of the box to scare you. This game would shut off your television while playing it just to mess with you. Taking place in a mansion, you will use magic with multiple characters while solving puzzles throughout the game.
Armed with nothing but a camera, Fatal Frame is one of the better horror games at creating a scary atmosphere. You will take pictures of spirits with horrified faces as you gather evidence and fend off these spirits.
The House of the Dead
It was pretty awesome going to an arcade in the late-90s to play a light gun game where you mowed down zombies. This game was ahead of its time visually and physics-wise, as shooting different parts of the body did different things.
The Last of Us
While the story is better than any story in a Hollywood movie, The Last of Us is still a true survival horror game at heart. When a disease infests society and basically ends the world, small groups of people fend for supplies as stealth is key in this award-winning game. The ability to craft weapons and supplies while utilizing stealth to survive and kill bandits and the infected make this one of the better games of all-time.
Left 4 Dead
Valve’s attempt at a co-op, zombie killing experience paid off. While the console version of this first person shooter felt limited, the PC version continues to get tons of mods to this day. Left 4 Dead is a fun and easy game to pick up and play with friends while advancing through campaigns. There’s no depth or unlocks as the only true replay value is going thru and mowing down zombies and bosses.
Back in the early to mid-90s, the high-end consoles were disc-based. These companies focused more on providing an interactive movie experience that did not work out in the end. One of the more famous of these titles is Night Trap. The game had terrible everything and was overly cheesy, but it fit the mold of a slasher-flick for the time. The game was frowned upon for its violence towards women, but if you can find the game it’s worth a try just to experience how awesome-ly bad it is.
Literally armed with nothing in an insane asylum, you must use night vision to navigate through the dark unspotted. In hopes of exposing what goes on in this mansion, exploration is the focus of this extremely scary game. The game looks beautiful and does everything to capture a true horror feel. Plenty of people, including myself, have been unable to return to playing this because it’s just too much.
While visually unappealing at this point in time, the original Silent Hill still holds up well today. Some will argue that the atmosphere created by this game surpasses Resident Evil. There’s many different enemies that have become commonplace among fans of the series as it continues to this day. The sound and ambient music are fantastic in creating the eerie environment.
The Evil Within
Shinji Mikami invented survival horror with the original Resident Evil and bid farewell after the fourth game. Wanting to do something different, Bethesda brought him in to create a next-gen title. While some of the game feels dated, it still does an excellent job with the enemies, puzzles, and creating an atmosphere. The game definitely feels like a Mikami game (Resident Evil 4) and is worth playing for any fan of his previous titles.
X-Com: UFO Defense
While X-Com Enemy Unknown was an amazing update to this franchise, nothing compares to the original version on the PlayStation. While this was a PC port, X-Com UFO Defense was a turn-based strategy game that was incredibly difficult. The idea was to build up a unit capable enough of stopping an alien invasion. What makes this game a horror game is the tension involved and the music. The game is eerily creepy when you add the amazing synth music into the title. Add this in with the chance of your units dying at any second while not knowing where the enemy is (lol Enemy Unknown) and it becomes a horror title.
Zombi U deserves credit for bringing back survival horror titles to consoles. An exclusive to the Wii U, Ubisoft’s zombie game offered very limited ammo, a cricket bat, and the streets and undergrounds of London to make things difficult. Health wasn’t much, and if you died, you started over as a different random person. The neatest thing about Zombi U was encountering dead friends or your old dead character. If you take them down, you could loot what you had. Ubisoft made excellent use of the Wii U controller with this game, as well.
Fun fact, Maniac Mansion was the first game ever released by Lucasfilms (Lucas Arts, Star Wars). A point and click game originally released on PC and Commodore 64, the game took tons of B-Movie horror cliches from the 80s and meshed them together in a game. Solving puzzles and avoiding enemies in a mansion were the main points to this game. It took a few years for a censored port to hit the Nintendo. This is a cult classic for the older crowd.
Alan Wake is a Xbox 360 and PC exclusive that was praised for its atmosphere and narrative. The game uses and episodic format with a few available as DLC. The game focuses on using light to combine the Taken, which are a product of a darkness that is taking over. Light weapons are used to help battle the Taken. This game received many awards and is most certainly worth a playthrough.
Alien fans rejoice, your game is here, and it’s possibly the great survival horror game of all-time. For once, a video game based on a movie that does the movie justice and puts the player in the shoes of what feels like a movie. Taking place on a space ship, you are hunted by one Xenomorph along with AWOL androids and other survivors who are deadly. Keeping quiet and silent is the key to survival and uncovering what went wrong.
Alone in the Dark
Alone in the Dark set the basis for survival horror games. Non-linear exploration, puzzles, and a horror element, the series has seen a couple of releases. Dating back to 1992, this spurred the genre into what it is today. Mikami might be the father of survival horror, but he built upon the groundwork that this franchise started.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Some hail this game as the scariest game, ever. Amnesia is a PC survival horror game that plays much more different than anything in the genre. Using physics-based motion to open doors and interact with puzzles, the focus of the game is on the protagonist’s sanity. Using light to avoid visual and auditory hallucinations, you must maintain while exploring as monsters will chase you and you have no weapons.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
What’s Halloween without Dracula? There have been plenty of Castlevania titles, but this is clearly the best one. With an amazingly fitting soundtrack, you explore Dracula’s castle and go through legendary horror monsters to get to him. While there’s nothing scary about the game, there are still tons of horror references throughout the game.
Another survival horror title from the mid-90s, Clock Tower was a point-and-click style game that featured three scenarios. While solving puzzles, you are stalked by a Scissor Man. If you are directly contacted by him, panic mode is induced and you must mash the panic button to get away from the stalker. This cult classic has multiple endings across the three scenarios.
Resident Evil: Remake
It would be easy to fill this list with Resident Evil titles, as I do recommend 0-4, Code Veronica, and even Survivor. This version is hailed as the greatest survival horror of all time. It builds upon the first release by adding more areas and enemies, beautiful visuals for the time, and a remixed soundtrack that’s just as fantastic as the first. The game is also getting a re-release running at 1080p resolution for current systems.