Happy Halloween to you all. There are a number of things happening tonight, whether it's trick or treating, a get-together with friends or staying in and partaking in a number of quality (and not-so-top-notch) horror films. You shouldn't forget about video games, however! Halloween is the perfect night to plop down on the couch and play a classic for a few hours, with the lights turned off and the stereo cranked up to full blast. The second you hear a zombie groaning – or some other unspeakable nightmare – you know you're in trouble.
For the holiday, we've decided to take a look at some of the scariest video games out there. We're not talking about the ones that are unintentionally scary, like Barbie Horse Adventures. For that matter, not all of them are horror-based – one or two are quite popular in gaming today. But they're definitely going to send chills down your spine, whether you're ready or not.
Let's get into the horror!
Call of Duty: Zombies
First introduced as a side mode in the terrific first-person shooter World At War, the Zombies mode in the Call of Duty franchise has been nothing short of excellent. Four players must work together in a confined space to keep invading zombie forces at bay. At first, it's rather easy with only a few small spaces to defend and slow enemies, but by level ten you'll be lucky if you survive a round with minimal damage. It gets that crazy.
Black Ops continued the zombie fun with even more maps and weapons and with the forthcoming Black Ops II just under two weeks away from release, you can expect an even bigger challenge with more spaces to keep zombie-free, more weapons and hundreds more of those suckers ready to eat you alive. Let's hope you have a good crew on hand when November 13th rolls around.
Resident Evil 4
The newly released Resident Evil 6 may have you covered if you're looking for genuine action with a horror twist but if you really want something that will leave your blood curdling around every corner, you must play Resident Evil 4. This classic, which has been re-released in HD format for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, has Leon Kennedy hunting through a strange village in search of the president's daughter. What he finds is an unspeakable nightmare, between gibberish-speaking citizens that don't hold back on pursuing him, a masked chainsaw freak that takes a whole lot of damage, and a gargantuan fish in need of a tasty snack.
RE 4 set a new precedent for the series and the GameCube platform it initially came out on. Capcom was able to tweak the controls so that they were more action-based than previous games, while at the same time keeping the horror tightly wound, so that there were surprises around every corner. It's still a fresh and scary experience today, so if you don't think RE 6 is getting the job done for you, maybe it's time to go back to 4. Your trembling hands will thank you for it.
If you want a game that really screws with your head in a number of psychological ways, while at the same time walking a refreshing path that very few Nintendo games – if any at all – have tread, then you'll want to pick up a GameCube and a copy of Eternal Darkness. Produced by Silicon Knights in the height of their popularity, the game has you time traveling between eras, trying to figure out a myriad of puzzles while keeping your characters from losing it – a far greater in challenge than you might realize.
We're not sure what Nintendo was expecting with this release, as they didn't really market it that strongly. Despite this, reviews and player feedback were incredibly strong and the game produced a number of frightful moments, especially the minute it told you that it was erasing your memory card. Talk about a mind****. If you haven't played this game yet, you won't find a better time than Halloween.
Though Bioshock may not look like a scary game at first, the atmosphere that Ken Levine and his team have created is nothing short of breathtaking. At first it's a quiet underwater utopia. but then the freaks come at you swinging weapons, forcing you to fight for survival using a number of tonics and weapons to fend them off... even then you haven't seen anything yet.
A new level of terror emerges in the game with Big Daddy, a nearly unstoppable beast who protects a group of little supernatural girls with his power drill and lumbering strength. When you first encounter him, it's the kind of experience that will leave you shaken – and wondering how you survived. After that you have the option to "save" or "harvest" the little girls, the pure creepiness of your actions begins to set in depending what you go with. It's that kind of feeling that makes Bioshock a rare gem – and leaves us wondering just what Levine and his team will do next with Infinite when it arrives next year.
Finally, we have to give the nod to EA's awesome space epic, the one that started the series to begin with. Dead Space relies on pure atmospheric horror, and has so many jump-on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments that you may not come down for hours. You play poor Isaac Clarke as he explores his way through a damaged space freighter, taking on a series of increasingly strong Xenomorphs with a handful of weapons while seeking out his girlfriend.
The twisting feeling of playing through Dead Space is unshakeable, mainly due to Visceral Games' magnificent development. You can die in a number of ways too, whether it's being ripped in half by a huge beast or having your head cut off by a smaller creature, only for it to take control of your corpse. And getting chopped up by machinery? Ouch. The real highlight, though, is the final boss. Just when you think you've won, the game's final frames make you realize your nightmare's just begun. Seriously, check this game out.