As mentioned in my post about Project Zero, I’m a big wuss when it comes to horror games. My other-half can play them in the dark and not even flinch – but I’ll be left thinking about them long after the PC or console has been switched off, my imagination going into overdrive.
So what’s a cowardly girl to do when this spooky time of year comes around? My usual solution is to make Pete play while I hide from the safety of behind a cushion, because I enjoy the kind of stories shared through the horror genre although I don’t like being on the controls myself. I grew up reading books by Stephen King and Dean Koontz from a far-too-early age and this has made me terrified of monsters lurking in the shadows, yet also strangely intrigued by them.
But sometimes you don’t want to sit back and watch: you’d rather be in control of a game yourself. And the great thing about video games nowadays is that we have so much choice; there’s something out there for absolutely everybody regardless of how much a scaredy-cat you are. Here’s my list of recommendations for people like me, who want to get involved in the Halloween fun this weekend but would rather it didn’t involve them being scared witless or awake all night.
isn’t a horror in the conventional sense but it still gets pretty dark. The gameplay is split into two sections: the daytime segment where protagonist Vincent interacts with friends and other patrons at the Stray Sheep Bar, and the foreboding nightmares where he must solve block puzzles to climb a tower and escape from falling to his death. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to Vincent’s story as it chooses to focus on moral ambiguity, so you might find yourself questioning some of your choices.
Go back to the Halloweens
of your childhood with Double Fine’s Costume Quest
, a cartoony RPG about a group of young kids out trick-or-treating when a sibling is kidnapped by a monster. Each of them wears a costume and their imagination takes over in the turn-based battles: they transform into giant versions whatever they’re dressed as and are granted appropriate super-powers to match. It’s a fun game which isn’t too hard to complete and will remind you of the excitement of eating far too many sweets.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
If you decide to pick up this point-and-click for Halloween
, do yourself a favour: get the original version of Gabriel Knights: Sins of the Fathers
by Sierra Online
rather than the 20th Anniversary Edition
by Phoenix Online Studios
. That way, you won’t miss out on the excellent voice-acting by Tim Curry
and some of the sleaziest so-bad-they’re-good lines ever in a story about a series of murders related to voodoo. Nathan
from Gaming Omnivore
recently played this for our game-swap so check out his thoughts on the game in this post
The opening of Gone Home
has all the makings of a horror situation: a thunderstorm, an abandoned house, rooms shrouded in darkness and many niggling questions. There are several moments where it feels as though you’re being followed – such as the part where you must go down into the basement – but there’s really nothing scary here. What you’ll find instead is a sincere story about teenage love and finding yourself, along with some of the best voice-acting in video games I’ve ever experienced.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods
by Infinite Fall
is another game which contains nothing scary in the conventional sense. Instead, it manages to capture the hollowness of moving from the warmer months into autumn and winter, along with the uncertainties and pressures of real life. The story is told through a cast of wonderful characters that make it worth playing. A special mention for Candy: I love the way the story hints at her being more than just a mum, and how she’s dealing with issues she’s trying to keep her daughter shielded from.
If you’re a fan of full-motion video (FMV) games like me, check out The Bunker
by Splendy Games
for a tale about the last remaining survivor in a nuclear bunker who’s shielded from the outside world. And if you’re in the Essex area, why not plan a trip to the Secret Nuclear Bunker in Kelvedon Hatch
before you do so? Getting the chance to visit the place where the title was filmed made it even more creepy for me and the atmosphere in real-life is just a heavy as the feeling I got when playing the title
: dark, and full of memories and ghosts.
The Room series
by Fireproof Games
is one of the best puzzle series ever made. It’s amazing how much atmosphere is packed into each instalment – even more so when you consider that the games were originally made for mobile. Although the sharp piano notes in the background and the dust motes in the air speak of loneliness, it feels as though there’s always someone watching you. The visuals are realistic yet somehow hazy, which gives each episode a dreamlike quality: it’s almost as if you’re inhabiting a room straight out of your imagination
Bonus game: SOMA
It may seem strange to include this one on today’s list because it’s an entry in the horror genre in the true sense, but I’d recommend giving SOMA
by Frictional Games
a try – if you’re feeling brave enough after turning on the Safe Mode, of course. This will allow you to experience the title’s creepy atmosphere while removing the risk of in-game death. What’s truly scary about it isn’t the monsters but the questions it will force you to ask yourself, and you’ll stay thinking about them long after you’ve put the controller down
Are there any other games you’d recommend for scaredy-cats like me at Halloween? Tell us about them in the comments below and, if you’d like to witness me hiding behind a cushion while Pete plays Amnesia, come join us over on Twitch this Saturday.