Halloween is around the corner, so you know what that means: It’s time to get scared. You have your choice of poison — haunted house, slasher flick, or what about a horror video game? It is easy to see why horror video games can be some of the most potent nightmare fuel out there. Their interactive nature helps immerse the player in the world of the game, making them feel like the events transpiring are happening to them. So in time for Halloween, here are five horror video games for late at night:
Resident Evil VII: Biohazard
This one here is a no brainer. Coming out January last year, Resident Evil VII revitalized the franchise and brought survival horror fans a triple-A title that had been sorely lacking from the market. You play as Ethan Winters, a man who receives a message from his missing wife and is brought to the creepy Baker Plantation in the Louisiana swamps. There he encounters the deranged Baker family, and an onslaught of Texas Chainsaw Massacre-inspired horror ensues. If you are new to survival horror games, this is the game for you. The scares are all based on physical mutilation, body horror and jump scares like most slasher flicks. As such there is a certain genericism in it that gives it a little something for everyone and the triple-A nature makes it more streamlined and easier to consume. A big change in this game as compared to the rest of the series was the switch to first person as opposed to the traditional third person. This opened it up and made it more accessible to a large audience. However, if you’re a survival horror fan, you’ve probably already played it which is why the next title is recommended.
The Evil Within 2
The first The Evil Within game is one that a lot of people played. The build up for it was ginormous as it was being helmed by Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil IV fame. However, though the game was well made and had some generally frightening sections, it was slightly underwhelming and generic upon release. The Evil Within 2 in response does a 180 and goes full-on experimental. Rather than the linear halls and sequential order of most horror games The Evil Within 2 takes the player to what is probably the most well done open world horror game to date. The Evil Within 2 takes place three years after the first game and follows the main character Sebastian Castellanos in a quest to find his missing daughter who has been abducted by a shady organization named Mobius. The game takes place in a third-person view in a constantly shifting virtual reality landscape. Areas change sporadically, and one can never feel comfortable with any location aside from the safe room as random occurrences can happen. Though it is recommended you play the first game before this one, it’s not really necessary. This game does a good job of catching you up on the events of the previous title.
Bloodborne is not a horror game in the traditional sense. Some might not even call it a horror game at all, but that is often debated. Bloodborne is a Playstation 4 exclusive and a title that many consider to be the best game on the system. It is made by From Software, the same people known for the Dark Souls series, and it shares many similarities with Dark Souls with one major change. Bloodborne introduces a mechanic called the rally system which allows you to gain health back by striking an enemy immediately after it hits you. This in turn encourages more aggressive play than Dark Souls. Bloodborne is the best example of any media including elements of H.P. Lovecraft's style of existential horror. The plot revolves around you, the hunter, coming to the city of Yharnam in search for a cure to your disease. However, once given a blood transfusion for your illness, it infects you with a condition similar to lycanthropy. You are not, however, a werewolf. It starts simple and gothic. Over time, as you explore and learn more about the world, the horror stems more from insanity than scary monsters. The game puts one in a constant state of dread, confusion and struggle. This might not sound appealing to some, but to others it’s addicting.
Outlast is one of the most tense experiences you can have with a game. It’s plot has you play as a video journalist investigating strange events at an insane asylum after being tipped off by an anonymous source. From there it has you running from maniac after maniac as you try to escape and figure out the strange happenings. Outlast is one of those horror games that gets its scares by taking agency out of the player. All you can do is run and hide from the various threats within the asylum, and you can never fight back. To further complicate this, many areas are dark and you can only see in them with your night vision camera. The problem is it has a limited battery and you can only recharge it by finding rare spare batteries around the world. It creates an interesting dynamic of deciding when you should stop and take in your surroundings versus when you need to run blind in the dark. Outlast also has a sequel Outlast II which is also good. The sequel deals with story elements involving sexual assault. If that is uncomfortable to you avoid the sequel. If not you should give it a chance after playing the first title.
BioShock is a classic and a lot has already been said about it. Many consider it to be one of the greatest games ever made, period. However, as BioShock has aged in years, less people have played it, which really is a shame. Bioshock is one of those rare titles labeled a thinking man's shooter. It’s an FPS that relies more on slow analysis of the surroundings rather than reflexes. In it you find yourself playing an unnamed character who is in a plane crash outside a mysterious lighthouse. Being the only survivor, you explore the lighthouse and it leads you to the underwater city of Rapture. The city is broken down and rife with genetically mutated individuals called “splicers.” You have to mutate yourself to escape the city alive. Though short on things like jump scares, BioShock is horrifying through the ideals it represents. It is basically a criticism on philosophers like Ayn Rand’s objectivism and similar extreme views. It makes the player ponder moral decisions and look upon their own actions. It's more of a game about internal threats as opposed to outside ones. That makes it all the more terrifying.