‘Tis the season. Not to be jolly and all that holiday cheer. No, ‘tis the season for buckets of blood, revving chainsaws, grotesque monstrosities, the undead, ghouls, demons, and other horrors. Every year, people use October as their reason to binge all things horror, from movies to TV shows to video games. It’s the ideal month for countless hours of chills and frights, especially for gamers that opt to tackle a library of horror titles.
There are many ways you can spend your October, but why not spend it immersed in the horrifying experiences crafted by brilliant development teams and storytellers? Get sucked into their twisted worlds to get into the Halloween spirit with this list of 15 must-play horror games of the season.
PC, Xbox 360
In the town of Bright Falls, not everything is as it seems after famed writer Alan Wake comes into town. Haunted by his own stories, Wake is sucked into a world of darkness and pursued by deadly possessed townsfolk known as the Taken. Alan Wake uses the age-old battle of light vs. dark to weave an often confusing, but still intriguing tale that feels like something out of Stephen King’s B-material. Battle the Taken through Bright Falls with flashlights and flares, all while trying not to break down from their frequent taunts. There is something truly eerie about the Taken that makes Alan Wake such an effective horror title.
PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Alien: Isolation puts players in the space boots of Amanda Ripley, engineer and daughter of Ellen Ripley, as she sets out to uncover what happened to her mother and the crew of the Nostromo. Unfortunately, she finds out all-too-well when she comes face-to-face with a lumbering xenomorph. The Creative Assembly not only pulls the design from the original film, it also borrows environments, pacing, and the sheer horror of Ridley Scott’s terrifying vision.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Stick to the light or risk suffering from a mental breakdown in this unique horror title. Amnesia follows the amnesiac protagonist, Daniel, who has to piece together the missing moments of his life. Not the most original idea, no, but the game makes up for it with a few tricks. The most prominent is that you’re completely helpless. When pursued by monsters, your only choice is to run and hide. You’ll have to be careful where you duck off into, however, as the longer you sit in darkness, the more insane Daniel becomes. Along with a health bar, players have to watch Daniel’s sanity or risk passing out and becoming fodder for the evils of Brennenburg Castle.
Imagine a spiritual successor to Kalisto Entertainment’s Nightmare Creatures set to the gameplay of the Dark Souls series. That’s Bloodborne. FromSoftware’s shift from Dark Souls is welcomed as Bloodborne is a gothic fright-fest filled with terrors like werewolves, blood-thirsty hunters, lumbering giants, and everything else that’s ever haunted your dreams. Like Dark Souls, Bloodborne can be punishingly difficult, but if you take your time to learn how your enemies move, you’ll find yourself enjoying a nuanced horror experience.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
PC, Xbox 360
As a launch title for the Xbox 360, Condemned served to show the power of the console. As with so many launch titles over the generations, it could have been a throwaway experience, but the brutality and ample frights turned it into a classic. While on the trail of a serial killer (Serial Killer X), FBI Serial Crime Unit agent Ethan Thomas faces a multitude of horrors, from amped-up druggies to humanoid creatures. Using his intuition, heavy punches, and whatever blunt and sharp objects he finds lying about, Thomas pushes deep into the darkness as the world around him succumbs to the evil infesting it.
Dead Rising 3
PC, Xbox One
The Dead Rising series was always about pushing the envelope when it came to on-screen mayhem. Dead Rising 3 is no exception and packed the playing field with three times the number of zombies that Dead Rising 2 could handle. The story may not have been perfect, but cutting through a sea of zombies with weapons you can manufacture on-the-fly was the Dead Rising experience since being introduced to Frank West. Dead Rising 3 is a step above its successor with cooler (and slightly scarier) zombie design and better locations.
PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Taking cues from Ridley Scott’s Alien and the Resident Evil series, Dead Space uses a mix of horrifying enemies and atmosphere to terrify gamers. Aboard the USG Ishimura planet cracker, players must guide engineer Isaac Clarke through claustrophobic hallways, pursued by mutated beings known as necromorphs. Flailing limbs and claws come rushing around every corner and bursting through air vents, making the Ishimura one of the most uncomfortable places to be stuck in. As if these weren’t already terrible circumstances, the necromorph must be dismembered to down them permanently. Though that may sound easy, imagine having to tear them apart when they’re moving impossibly fast toward you from all directions. The adrenaline alone makes aiming a near impossibility.
Doom 3 was a considerable step away from the tone of the original Doom series, and that didn’t please many fans. However, survival horror aficionados were treated to an atmospheric, terrifying game set in a beloved universe. New demon models, improved lighting, and creepy sound design helped elevate Doom from a run-and-gun shooter to a slow-paced horror title.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
While exploring the fictional Minakami Village, twin sisters Mio and Mayu Amakura are pulled into a supernatural tale of revenge. Once the home of their favorite playspot, the dilapidated village has become infested with the spirits of its sordid past. At the heart of the horde of deadly ghosts is Sae Kurosawa, a vindictive entity looking to reunite with her twin sister. Along their journey, Mio and Mayu find the Camera Obscura, a vintage camera that can damage and exorcise the spirits of Minakami. Considering the main enemies are all ghosts, you know you can expect an experience full of jump scares and unexpected frights.
In the gothic setting of 19th-century London, players find themselves battling the evils created by the Brotherhood of Hecate. A rogue’s gallery of literal nightmare creatures haunts the city’s gloomy streets as protagonists Ignatius Blackward and Nadia Franciscus. Mastering the differing fighting styles of each character can be frustrating at first, but once you get a handle on movesets and learn enemy patterns, there’s nothing like spending your Halloween slicing through zombies, werewolves, and other abominations.
Resident Evil (2002)
Step inside the Spencer Mansion nestled deep within the Arklay Mountains and find a host of nightmares waiting to rip you limb from limb. The original Resident Evil introduced us to true terror. The GameCube remake recreated all that we loved of the 1996 release, added some new areas, and threw more terrifying monsters our way. The result is a survival horror experience that will leave you on edge.
Resident Evil 2 (1998)
Dreamcast, GameCube, N64, PC, PSOne
The 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 was a shining example of how to improve upon the original formula. However, it made a few minor missteps that keep the original high on its pedestal of greatness. Even for a 21-year-old game, Resident Evil 2 continues to deliver frights through tense encounters and the claustrophobic halls of the Raccoon City Police Department.
Small town horrors are an occasional element in the survival horror genre, but none did it better than the original Silent Hill. Konami’s introduction to the ashy town continues to shine, despite tank controls, frustrating camera angles, and 90s voice acting. As Harry Mason, players are drawn deeper into the insanity that is Silent Hill in search of a missing daughter and the truth behind the monsters lurking the town’s empty streets.
Silent Hill 2
PC, PS2, Xbox
If ever there was a game that needed a sequel, Silent Hill was it. Though a thoroughly enjoyable experience, there was still so much more to know about the eerie town. James Sunderland is drawn to Silent Hill via a letter sent by his dead wife. What he finds is empty buildings infested with grotesque horrors, some of which symbolize James’ own frustrations. Silent Hill 2 improved upon many aspects of the original, but its story is what really shined through all the slow-burn horror.
PC, PS2, XboxTrapped on Carnate Island, a prisoner of Abbott State Penitentiary and his own insanity, silent protagonist Torque faces a horde of twisted monsters in The Suffering. With creature design by Stan Winston Studios, you can bet The Suffering has some truly gruesome foe, especially since they’re all modeled after execution methods. As he tries to escape the madness that has overtaken Carnate Island, Torque learns to unleash his own demons. The prison setting lends to an atmospheric game while the grotesque fiends are sure to leave you with twisted nightmares.