It’s Halloween! During a global pandemic! How wild is that? This year, the usual talk about horror movies, music, books, and games hits different. Those of us responsibly keeping to ourselves and our families as needed have probably already been binging content when not figuring out how to survive. Halloween’s horror theme, especially for those of us in these nerdier spaces, means so many different things to different people. Is horror a fun excuse to indulge in violence and costumed monsters? Or is it an exploration of what we’re afraid of, in this moment, personified or exaggerated? It’s tough to say when it comes to video games, a medium that is still growing in so many ways.
But that’s where we’re at, so that’s what we’re talking about here. The three of us making up the Prima Games staff, who you’ve hopefully been coming to know through our collab pieces and individual features, got together to drop our favorite Halloween-flavored games into this bucket. These may not all be scary, or spooky, or even full of seasonal affects and tropes. Perhaps our choices evoke Halloween for more personal reasons. Or maybe everyone just picked Resident Evil games. I don’t know, I wrote this part first! As we all gear up to figure out how to celebreate this unique holiday, take a sec to check out our Octobery software of choice.
Morgan "There's no frickin' way Little Hope is a 5/10" Shaver
Let It Die
Now I know what you're thinking, Let It Die isn't really a horror game per se. You are correct there, but Let It Die still counts as a "spooky" game in that it's full of gruesome enemies and has a fairly grim concept. The game is also free-to-play on PS4 and PC so you don't have to slap any money down to check it out which is nice.
In my opinion, Let It Die is an underappreciated gem with a great soundtrack, memorable characters like Uncle Death, and some addicting gameplay where you're trying to climb up a tower without dying. I put hundreds upon hundreds of hours into it on PS4 and again on Steam. I absolutely adore this game!
As an added bonus, the game's executive director was none other than Goichi Suda (Suda51). If you enjoy games made or otherwise influenced by Suda51, you'll enjoy Let It Die.
I mean... I have to recommend SOMA. How could I not?
SOMA was developed by the talented people who made Amnesia: The Dark Descent and most recently, Amnesia: Rebirth. SOMA is pretty different from any of the Amnesia games in that its a sci-fi horror game that really messes with your head and will leave you with an existential crisis by the time it's over.
It's one of my favorite psychological horror games (other than F.E.A.R. but I can only recommend that game so many times before it gets old) based on the concepts it plays around with, and I think SOMA is visually interesting as well.
The setting feels a little "BioShock" in nature in that you're trapped in an underwater facility where you're alone, but also not alone. You constantly feel like you're being watched which is an extremely effective way to make you feel scared without having to throw jump scares at you.
To sum everything up, SOMA is a must-play if you're looking for a scary horror game with some depth to it as well. Come for the scares, stay for the story.
Jesse "The Monster Mash is a bad song" Vitelli
Luigi’s Mansion 1/2/3
Now I know what you’re thinking; those are three games right there! Well, I put all three of them together because while I still believe the original Luigi’s Mansion is the best, it’s not easy just to dig out a Gamecube to play it. I offer the whole suite of this ghost buffet as my choice because all three games are great spooky fun for everyone. The newest installment Luigi’s Mansion 3, is the most accessible to people because, well, it’s on the Switch!
These games offer family-friendly ghost hunting that will keep both adults and kids alike engaged! Between the colorful ghosts, interesting environments to explore, and light puzzle solving. I’d be shocked if you could find a better way to spend your Halloween.
Plus, we love when Luigi gets some love, my boy deserves better.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
I’m not a massive fan of horror games, in fact, I’m pretty sure there are videos of me on the internet being scared as hell playing them. However, there’s something about the Resident Evil 2 Remake that had me enthralled. The Racoon City Police Department is such an iconic setting filled with twists and turns.
This game is scary, like really scary at times, like so scary I had to play with all the lights on and my roommate sitting next to me scary. I found it to continually apply pressure to scenarios that kept me on the edge of my seat. The gameplay and survival horror mechanics create thrilling heart-pumping drama I haven’t felt in other games before.
If a big scaredy-cat like myself even beat this game, you can too!
Lucas "Pinhead did nothing wrong" White
I've already mentioned Corpse Party, on last week's recap. But I have to bring it up again, as it is bar none my favorite game for actual horror. Corpse Party is largely a visual novel, with a few minor puzzles and lots of clicking on things to trigger event flags. It's a remake of a game made with RPG Maker (you can get the original on Steam though), so you wouldn't expect a game with cutesy, little sprites to be unsettling. But that's where Corpse Party trips you up. Instead of throwing lots of monsters or gore in your face, Corpse Party relies on descriptive text, and more importantly sound, to mess you right the hell up. Using binaural audio techniques in addition to some amazing voice acting and sound design, Corpse Party manages to have some of the most cruel, disturbing bad end sequences I've experienced, and those are almost always presented as text and VO over a black screen. The soundtrack, which is much more traditional horror movie stuff but used with effective timing, even helps sell those moments that do incorporate visual elements. There are some... questionable choices made by the writer and localizers alike, but overall it's one of the best horror games you can get on the PSP/Vita.
On the entire opposite end of the spectrum, here's Costume Quest! Halloween doesn't always need to be serious, disturbing, or scary. Sometimes it can be a goofy RPG about playing pretend with your friends while badgering neighbors for candy. From Double Fine, Costume Quest (and its sequel) see a group of kids roaming around their neighborhood in search of candy, only to run into a Halloween-threatening enemy. Using their powers of Being Children, the kids are able to turn their rudimentary costumes into massively powerful transformations. Half the fun is seeing what each new costume looks like in combat, and the other half is all the silly dialogue. Costume Quest is about how fun Halloween is as a holiday, and in a way that appeals to your inner kid.
Shadows of the Damned
I'm going for a Halloween hat-trick here, because I need to hit that sweet spot between horror and silly with one of my favorite games, Shadows of the Damned. A Grasshopper Manufacture joint that was championed (and produced but not directed by) Suda51 with Resident Evil's Shinji Mikami also in the mix, Shadows of the Damned is a road trip-style story that tosses the likes of Resident Evil 4, The Evil Dead, and El Mariachi into a giant blender that spits out tattoo ink. It had its problems, sure. EA didn't know what it was getting into with this band of troublemakers. But what made it to the finished product was so self-assured and over the top that I loved every minute of it. If you want something lighthearted but still edgy, here's the game for you.
From Uncle Death to trick or treating in quaint, American suburbs, there's a lot of variety here at Prima Games for Halloween. It has been a long year, and who knows what’s coming as we transition to the new year. You know, aside from new consoles. But if you’re looking for a good way to spend your time on a spooky-themed holiday without leaving the house, maybe one of our picks falls in your wheelhouse. If you end up trying anything here, let us know what you think! Or if we touched one of your favorites already, tell us why! You can do so over at our Prima Games social channels on Facebook or Twitter. So... Happy Halloween?