They’re the faces we see when we close our eyes at night and the voices that keep us uneasy when we’re alone. Since the dawn of the slasher genre, a select few have risen to the level of legendary. Their kill counts have sored beyond any other, and the shrills they elicit are endless.
Thanks to video games, we have the opportunity to play as these fiends or face them in a setting where we have control. And an infinite number of lives. On the big screen, these slasher greats terrify us with their relentlessness. As it turns out, most of them are equally as horrifying when digitized and on a smaller display.
As the moon shines bright and a steady wind blows, kick back and play any of these 8 games that put your favorite slasher icons in the spotlight.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Released 5 years after A Nightmare on Elm Street, the video game adaptation feels more like it was tailored for fans of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Playing as a random teenager, gamers are tasked with scouring the dilapidated buildings of Springwood, OH and Elm Street to collect Freddy Krueger’s bones and dispose of them in the high school’s furnace.
Along the way, they have many run-ins with zombies, bats, cats, skeletons, and dogs, who are all hellbent on stopping them. Krueger isn’t even that much of a threat until the player’s “Sleep Meter” fills up, and they’re transported to the dream demon’s world. Though Freddy is supposed to have the upper hand, in this alternate universe, the teenager is equipped with ninja kicks, javelins, and magic abilities. It’s all very bizarre but feels right at home after watching Dream Warriors.
A Nightmare on Elm Street did step away from being your typical Castlevania rip-off with a multiplayer feature. Owners of the NES Four Score could team up with 3 other players to defeat the sweater-wearing fiend.
Dead by Daylight
PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
In this 4v1 multiplayer horror game, players have the option to control a hapless victim or the killer that’s pursuing them through haunting environments. Dead by Daylight pits players against one another as 4 struggle to escape their destiny as fodder for the dubious Entity that controls their fate. The 5th player takes on the role of the killer, a former serial killer or victim of a heinous crime enlisted to do The Entity’s bidding.
The story doesn’t matter much, but it serves as fun background material that sets the stage for tense games of cat and mouse. The survivors struggle to evade their pursuer as they try to repair and power up generators that control their exit. With enough generators powered, the survivors can escape their nightmare for good.
The rogue’s gallery of killers at launch was a fantastic mix of terrifying specters and lumbering killers, but future DLC packs introduced memorable faces. Since launch, Dead by Daylight has added Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, The Pig from Saw, Ghostface, and Michael Myers. Each killer comes with their own skillset to counterbalance the perks obtainable by the crafty survivors.
Friday the 13th: The Video Game (2017)
PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Despite the never-ending legal battle that has plagued the Friday the 13th franchise, Gun Media crafted a clever 4v1, asymmetrical multiplayer game. Its launch was a total mess, with laggy servers, frequent drop-outs, lag issues, and poor matchmaking, but the Friday the 13th: The Video Game has been patched to become a worthwhile experience for horror and series fans alike.
Four players take control of sex-crazed counselors as they’re pursued by Jason Voorhees, depicted in a variety of forms from throughout the series. Wielding everything from a machete to a pitchfork, Voorhees stalks and brutally slaughters his prey in iconic Friday the 13th locations. The goal of the survivors is to escape, either by calling the police, fixing a broken-down car, or performing the difficult task of “killing” Voorhees.
Friday the 13th: The Video Game is a love letter to the series, with quite a few Easter eggs pulled straight from the film series, including the ability to summon a gun-toting Tommy Jarvis.
Friday the 13th (1989)
Video game adaptations of classic slasher movies weren’t quite what fans expected, especially when it came to Friday the 13th. Though the later multiplayer title captured the look and feel of the franchise, the NES sidescroller was confusing, at best.
Controlling multiple camp counselors one at a time, players make their way through a labyrinthine version of Camp Crystal Lake, leaping over zombies and avoiding the occasional Voorhees appearance. Along the way, they enter the cabins to rescue children trapped inside and come face-to-face with Jason Voorhees in a Punch-Out-styled segment.
Friday the 13th didn’t feel like it belonged in the franchise at all, and yet we’re drawn to it for its quirky interpretation of Crystal Lake and Jason. Those that do beat the frustratingly difficult battles with Voorhees are treated to an ambiguous ending that actually does fit well within the film series.
You read that right. One of the first video game adaptations of a movie was John Carpenter’s beloved Halloween. As an unnamed babysitter, players must save children from what appears to be The Shape while a MIDI track of the iconic score plays on repeat. It would be great if there were more to say about the gameplay, but that was it. Don’t forget, this was early era gaming when concepts had to be simplistic.
What can be said about Halloween is that it wasn’t worried about offending parents. When the babysitter is killed by her pursuer, her pixelated head disappears and is replaced by a spurt of blood. That’s about as graphic as the Atari 2600 could get, but that didn’t stop controversy from surrounding its release. Due to its violent nature, many retailers didn’t even carry the game.
PC, PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox One
Mortal Kombat (2011) and Mortal Kombat X delivered on a bloody good time for fans of the original series. Enhancements to the gory combat and brand new stories help keep players engaged, but the games also ensured longevity through DLC packs that launched after many had already played it to death.
Among those DLC packs were characters pulled from the most popular slasher franchises, including A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Mortal Kombat (2011) was the first to borrow from the horror movie-verse by introducing Freddy Krueger from the 2010 remake of Elm Street. Mortal Kombat X took things a step further by adding Jason Voorhees and Leatherface alongside the intergalactic killers, Predator and the Xenomorph.
With unique Fatalities and devastating movesets, each killer found a rightful home in Earthrealm, even if it meant decapitations galore for the heroes that fought to protect it.
TerrorDrome: Rise of the Boogeymen
This fan-made fighting game came to life thanks to Huracan Studios despite a lack of support. TerrorDrome pops up every so often as a reminder that horror fans were treated to a well-developed brawler featuring a cast of 14 of our favorite killers.
Like any traditional fighting game, every character enters the arena with unique combos and specials, and it’s clear that the team at Huracan Studios is made up of genuine horror fans. From the brutal force behind Jason Voorhees’ ax swing to Ash Williams’ use of the Necronomicon, there is a clear respect for the source material.
The fighter variety is diverse and features the likes of Leatherface, Ghostface, Chucky, Dr. Herbert West, The Tall Man, Matthew Cordell, Pumpkinhead, Michael Myers, and Pinhead.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Even today, we don’t get too many opportunities to play a chainsaw-wielding maniac, which means VSS, Inc. was ahead of its time with the Atari 2600 release of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The whole point of the game is to score points by killing innocent victims as they try to escape the grating sounds of your pixelated chainsaw. Reach 5,000 points (or 5 victims) and the chainsaw’s fuel regenerates for another round of mayhem.
The only enemy in this rough title is the fuel gauge, which serves as your life bar, and scattered lawn furnishings that impede your path. They didn’t even throw in a hero cop to combat the killing spree of Leatherface. The team at VSS clearly wanted players to get into the role of the chainsaw-wielding killer with little to stand in their way.
Unfortunately for publisher Wizard Video Games, Texas Chainsaw Maniac and Halloween played big parts in the company’s bankruptcy.