Let's Remember Some Spooky Games!

With the month of horrors almost upon us (as in ghosts and not Republicans THOUGH THEY SURE DO LIKE TO DRESS UP LIKE THEM BA DUM TIS) I figured we start trying to remember the many, many spooky games out there, old to new, obscure to obvious.

Notice I did not say “horror.” You can absolutely suggest or list horror games (I mean we are talking about the month long celebration that is Halloween) but you can also suggest games that don’t fit into the concept of “horror” quite so neatly but still inspire a sense of fear, or have a lot of Halloween trappings.

And no games with one spooky themed level, UNLESS it’s a really creative level (like the extended Shining reference stage in Mario Sunshine).

I’ll start us off!

Costume Quest 1 & 2 - A kid friendly celebration of Halloween from Double Fine about candy hungry kids trying to get candy, complicated by a monster invasion and later a time traveling dentist fascist who makes Shadowrun real (yes really). Has a turn based battle system with Paper Mario style inputs. First game is a bit too simple, but the sequel fleshes out the battle mechanics more. It also lets you honk a horn with a single button press in the clown costume, which you need to use to play in a blues band to progress through the story. You can honk this horn forever. It’s amazing.

Resident Evil Gaiden - Resident Evil on the Game Boy Color! Yup! Surprisingly ambitious experiment, debatable if it’s particularly good. However, it also stars the two best RE characters ever, Leon and Barry, so it is scientifically the best one. Haz a bizarre battle system where the screen changes to first person when an enemy nears and you get a QTE action bar.

A Witch’s Tale - A Nintendo DS game about witches and you get cute dolls to use as battle units and it’s very cute.

Mystik Belle - Indie game with absolutely incredible sprite art about a witch in training having to gather ingredients as punishment for messing up a witch’s brew. Think Metroidvania combined with the foundation of the Dizzy series. Only problem is that managing items is a PAIN IN THE ASS HOLY SHIT.

The Silver Case, The 25th Ward - Visual novel adventure games directed by SUDA 51 and now available in English. There are some ghosts (kinda maybe, the characters of Moonlight Syndrome appear in Silver Case and it gets pretty fucked), but the real horror in them comes mainly from exploring the dehumanizing effect technology, modern society, social norms, capitalism, and city infrastructure has on us. The mood in a few of the chapters in these games is extremely thick, especially Parade in Silver Case, which is presented entirely in black and white.

DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM - duh

Tokyo Dark - Visual novel adventure game made mainly by western devs living in Japan, revolves around ghosts, cult murders, and other horrific things as the main character’s sanity slowly degrades (you actually have to do self-care at times to keep her stable, which includes eating cat shaped pancakes at a cat maid cafe). It’s messy, but it does some great stuff with mood. The soundtrack alone is master class.

I’ll think of more later.

1 Like

I reinstalled Bloodborne for some annual spookiness and I am having a time.

7 Likes

I kind of want to play through Dino Crisis this year. Not sure if it’s spooky but it always sounded like Resident Evil but with dino’s and that sounded scarier to me honestly.

The most scared I’ve ever been in a game was in Metroid Fusion. Throughout the game you are pursued by the SA-X, an enhanced clone of Samus that is capable of killing you in short order. As you explore the game’s world you will run into this terrifying creature again and again. Given the cramped nature of the space station you are on, you are always way too close for comfort, and knowing that it can pop up at any time created a suffocating tension which permeates the entire game. All on a tiny ass Game Boy Advance screen that I played in broad daylight. Didn’t matter, SA-X was always in pursuit.

3 Likes

Rock Paper Shotgun once described The Secret World as an eternal Halloween season. It’s a constant light romp through a conspiracy tinged Halloween aesthetic. Ya got your zombies, your swamp things, wendigos, mummies, samurais, indescribable cosmic powers and entities both allied and opposed to you, vampires, werewolves, and the Japanese rockabilly stylings of Ricky Pagan. The first zone is a small Danielle Riendeau grade New England town that perfectly the regional horror styles of Lovecraft and Stephen King in an autumnal spooky delight.

Also that one Samhain when I killed Irusan and became the King of Cats was pretty great. God, they’re seasonal events are amazing.

Edit: And I just found out Funcom is doing another TSW spinoff game, this time set on Mars and releasing Halloween 2019. I am irrationally giddy.

Been playing Alan Wake to psyche myself up for whenever I buy Control.

Very tense fun, but MAN was every game in the 2000s a WHERE’S MY WIFE simulator?

6 Likes

Dead Space, specifically the first game and the slightly odd light-gun shooter called Dead Space Extraction. I love the atmosphere and environments in those games. Sci-fi horror is definitely my favourite.

Remnant from the Ashes is spooky at times. Those are some boo-ish trees.

Though the ambient music might be a little upbeat.

Evil Within 2 is a “Where’s My Daughter?” game that then upgrades to a “Where’s my Wife and Daughter?” game, which I consider to be the next stage of the dad game evolutionary process.

4 Likes

Manhunt, my favorite R* joint, still stands as one of the grungiest, slimiest, nastiest games ever made imo. Carcer City is a wasteland, full of tall shadows, which hide all sorts of killers, crazies and just straight up evil bastards, and you, James Earl Cash, are their prey.

Disgraced director Lionel Starkweather (played by Brian Cox in a performance that oozes sleaze) has pulled you off death row because he thinks you’re just the guy he needs for a few “films” he wants to shoot. If you’re smart, quick on your feet, and more vicious than the gangs that wanna gut you, who knows, you just might survive the night. Maybe.

Capcom released this game on the PS2 called Gregory Horror Show that I’ve always wanted to check out. It came out in Europe but never in NA I don’t think. I think it’s based on an anime?

A multi-season anime, it should be up on Youtube in full. Each episode is about five minutes or so. It’s really strange but I highly recommend it, low time commitment if you don’t care for it.

1 Like

Maybe it’s time for me to finally go back and complete Alien Isolation.

1 Like

You know, it occurs to me, with all the game selling services I have to suffer these days that I have to have SOMA on something even after hemming and hawing so much about buying it.

Update: And I do. The Twitch app of all things. Getting the most out of the parents’ Prime account.

1 Like

Recently I’ve been thinking about a game called “Memory of a Broken Dimension” which I don’t know if it classifies as a scary game, but it’s definitely very haunting and mysterious

The short version is that you’re exploring a virtual world through the lens of an ancient, dying computer that’s corrupting itself out of existence. You have to try and reconstruct the data in order to make your way around and possibly uncover some sort of alien secret. The first (and only?) demo came out as far back as 2012, and going by its Steam page it was originally slated to release in 2017. You’d think it’d dropped off the face of the planet because no new videos or screenshots or even news ever came out about what happened to it

But LITERALLY minutes ago I noticed the itch.io page has a link to the developer’s Twitch page where they are still coding away at the game as I write this very post.

And I’m just very happy right now. The demo on Itch is very short and simple, but screenshots and gifs of more recent areas still look incredible. This game has a spooky atmosphere so thick you can cut it with a knife.

2 Likes

My partner and I tried out the Blair Witch game last night. Besides the horror, the game made me really nervous for some reason. One thing in particular is that the main character seems to have a disability or mental illness alluded to. It kind of taps into my fear of losing my brother, who has autism, in a strong way. Also, having just gotten a dog, a whole game revolving around protecting and taking care of your dog seems REALLY stressful to me…

Maybe I’ll reinstall Alien Isolation.

Fun fact. Brian Cox was the rector of my university when I graduated and bestowed my degree upon me.

1 Like

I periodically install Alien Isolation on my Xbone, play it for half an hour, delete it for six months and have dreams about being chased by the Xenomorph for a week after.

1 Like

I always wanted a buddy of mine to play Amnesia, but I found out that while he was playing he thought he saw something in his apartment. So he ripped the keyboard tray off his desk and threw it at the wall, causing a big hole!

My biggest gripe is that so many horror games go for jump scares rather than atmosphere. I need more of the latter!

Also, Dino Crisis is more schlocky action than horror but it’s worth the play!

No joke, when I played Metroid Fusion as a kid, I had to use a Gameshark invincibility cheat because I thought ADAM was being literal when he said “the SA-X could attack you at any time”.

I love creepy/uncomfortable horror games like a Yume Nikki, I can’t stand the loud monster thriller stuff.