Halloween is all about scares, and 2019 has been a great year for horror video games. ChartX Games has compiled a great list of top horror video games to play this year.
We all know how much fun it is to watch scary movies at Halloween and satisfy our annual thirst for all things macabre.
But what about when you feel like doing something a little different?
While movies are a great source of entertainment, and Lord knows there are many movies to watch at Halloween, video games are just as rich a source of entertainment to scratch your horror itch.
Just like movies, there are many horror and/or spooky video games covering a wide range of sub-genres and topics, from BAFTA award winners for addressing mental health to pick up and play slashers.
Luckily for everyone, 2019 has been an excellent year for the horror genre right across the board with many movies, games, TV shows and books making an appearance.
For your horror pleasure I will detail what I think are some of the best games to play at Halloween covering a few bases that should have something for everyone:
- Best Horror Video Game Based on a Movie
- Best Spooky Video Game for Teens
- Best Survival Horror Video Game
- Best Psychological Horror Video Game
Best Horror Video Game Based on a Movie – Blair Witch
While we see quite a few video games that been adapted into film such as the Resident Evil series, many movies have also been adapted into game.
While a lot of these movies don’t translate very well across the two mediums (please don’t ask about 2014’s Rambo: The Video Games from Teyon), some of them have been developed very well.
One of the usual problems for making a movie into a video game is the use of official licensing.
This costs a lot of money and normally has strict limitations applied by the owning movie studio, who are usually extremely protective of their intellectual property.
As a result, this can hinder the development process of a game at the cost of producing a quality product, and the consumer ultimately suffers.
Luckily though, this doesn’t happen with every movie to video game adaptation and there are some gems out there, with horror movies usually making the best adaptions.
The Blair Witch Project has gone down in movie history as one of the most iconic horror films of all time, and while it didn’t invent the “found footage” genre it definitely helped popularize the now overproduced horror neotype.
The movie is known for its intense darkness and feeling of foreboding, even though most of the movie is actually shot in the daylight.
What helped the movie along was it’s excellently written history of myths concerning the titular character whom we never actually see in the [original] movie.
Before anything even happens, we have already been informed of the dark and malevolent spirit that haunts the woods outside of Burkittsville, formerly Blair.
This was a great tension builder in the movie and as the story progresses we not only see a group of hikers losing their minds but the feeling that something darker might actually be at work.
There have been other video games based on The Blair Witch Project released in 2000, and as good as they were, they didn’t feel anything like the movie and served more as plot-fillers and promotional tie-ins.
Fast forward almost twenty years and we have the excellent Blair Witch which was released in August for Xbox One and Windows PC.
Taking place in 1996, two years after the footage of the missing hikers was found, the game centers around an ex-cop named Ellis Lynch who has traveled to The Black Hills Forest to help search for a missing boy.
Utilizing many popular game mechanics such as stealth, first-person action and companion interaction in the form of a dog, Blair Witch makes excellent use of the movie’s popularity by incorporating many of its known horror elements.
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Viewing the action through a video camera it becomes evident that something is stalking Eliis, which is further utilized to great effect by allowing time manipulation and storytelling via different cassette tapes.
The developers at Bloober Team have made excellent use of the forest setting, using all the movie’s known techniques to further instill a sense of terror such as breaking twigs, cracking sounds and unknown entities out the corner of your eye.
Locations and plot devices from the movie are also faithfully recreated in the game.
Coffin Rock, Tappy East Creek and Griggs House are all featured, as well as the notorious stick bundles, stone cairns and of course the stickmen.
Best Spooky Video Game for Teens – The Sims 4: Realm of Magic
Right back before The Sims was even a game in its own right, Sims were known as the little virtual citizens of Sim City and were first realized in 3D in Sim Copter.
Since its release in 2000, The Sims has become a cultural and iconic phenomenon that grew even more popular with each incarnation.
As the crow flies we are currently on the 4th version of The Sims with The Sims 4 going strong on its current run.
One of the secrets to the success of The Sims is the constant release of content that keeps the game interesting.
From bowling alleys and restaurants to animals and the upcoming University expansion, there is surely something for everyone in the world of The Sims 4.
Expansions are something that The Sims has always had, however in order to add more content, The Sims 4 now has Game Packs in addition to Expansion and Stuff Packs.
Game Packs are somewhere in between Stuff and Expansion packs in that they add a little more than just new items but aren’t on the scale of a new expansion.
Because of content packs, The Sims series is no stranger to the Supernatural as aliens, Vampires, Mermaids and ghosts are all a part of previous and indeed current Sims incarnations.
Magic is also nothing new to the world of The Sims as we had The Sims: Making Magic in the original run of the series and more recently the excellent Sims 4: Realm of Magic.
Realm of Magic finally offers new magical powers for Sims and adds a new magical realm to explore.
Relying heavily on magic and witchcraft pop culture, Realm of Magic adds a lot of fun gameplay that would satisfy fans of Harry Potter, Charmed and movies such as Practical Magic, which the game actually references as a type of magic.
What sets this Game Pack apart is the inclusion of two new areas to explore, making it a little larger than most previous Game Packs.
Glimmerbrook is included as a new town in which Sims can live but it has a portal to the Magical Realm which Sims must use in order to travel there.
While Glimmerbrook offers nothing special, the Magical Realm is where you will find all kinds of magical items incuding wands, brooms and potion ingredients.
Sims must first be trained by Sages in one of four areas of magic before they can become Spellcasters themselves and begin their adventure in the arcane.
The game makes excellent use of four distinct magic types;
- Practical Magic; spells that help Sims such as cleaning things.
- Untamed Magic; powerful spells such as summoning lightning to strike a Sim.
- Mischief Magic; spells concerned with making Sims uncomfortable such as causing dizziness.
- Alchemy; the arcane art of making potions.
Once a Sim has become a Spellcaster their form is changed (although not visibly) and the needs tab is swapped out for a magical Spellcaster tab including a very cool animated Spellbook.
Like all skills in the game, developing magic and becoming powerful takes a lot of time and practice, and some spells must be learned from powerful tomes only available from the Magical Realm.
I can honestly say though, that any Sims fan, myself included, the way in which magic has been implemented in this pack is nothing short of brilliant and will definitely liven up your game and give you something extra to play with.
As an added bonus, The Sims 4 team provides Haloween content for download absolutely free. Just update your game to the latest version and you should get the Halloween content.
Best Survival Horror Video Game – Resident Evil 2 Remake
Resident Evil is one of those franchises that seems to have been around forever and if you’re old enough, like me, you remember the original versions very clearly and how they completely changed your life and indeed the gaming world forever.
I remember queueing outside of a Virgin Megastore in Liverpool for hours in, in the rain, one cold March night in order to be one of the first people to own a copy of the seminal, survival horror game.
The game was, as expected, amazing and the jump-scares and tense action moments it provided were second to none at the time, not to mention the very well implemented puzzles.
Resident Evil also introduced us to some memorable characters along the way such as Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, who have been mainstay characters across the series.
Being so successful, a sequel was inevitable and while some say Resident Evil 2 didn’t quite hit the standard of the first title, I disagree and think it was better.
For one, it expanded a little on the story and answered some questions about the shady Umbrella Corporation, and it took the action into the city where there were many more zombies after the T-Virus outbreak, making the game a lot more intense.
The original did get a makeover but it was just a remaster rather than a ground-up remake and therefore didn’t bring anything new to the table.
The game still focused on the action from fixed camera positions, the story, characters and puzzles were exactly the same and the game environment wasn’t really three dimensional.
A couple of years later, Resident Evil 2 was announced, but this time Capcom had some tricks up their sleeve.
Rather than a remaster, the game has been entirely remade from scratch and utilized Capcom’s revolutionary new game engine that was developed for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
Because of the use of RE:Engine, Resident Evil 2 (2019) was able to provide a fresh experience making use of the latest game techniques, while still retaining the excellent horror action and puzzle-solving gameplay we all know and love.
From the opening sequence, we know that something very, very bad has happened in Racoon City.
The game allows you to play as iconic Resi characters Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy and is slightly different depending on which you choose.
Either way, Resident Evil 2 is an intense experience, especially given the lack of bullets and weapons available to you in the game.
While the game provides ample opportunity to use some of your weapons or bullets, it may not be wise to do so as gunfire may attract more attention and believe me, when there’s more than one zombie, things can go bad very quickly.
Sometimes the best solution is to just run away, and this also brings its own problems as a lot of the time that isn’t as safe as you might think.
You may, for example, decide to run past a couple of the walking corpses, only to find that two more burst through the windows from the outside and grab at you incessantly.
Not only can this be devastating to your character, but it also makes the game very intense and while it sounds like that isn’t that scary, it is!
As the game progresses, you are forced to decide on which routes to take in order to conserve your bullets or grenades, as there are so many zombies compared to ammo, you will never be free of them, and that doesn’t include the other nasty things that are lurking around.
If you handle a gun as I do then dodging the monsters maybe the best thing to do anyway since being a Resident Evil game, there are the inevitable Boss Battles.
The Boss Battles in this game are very well thought out and while the game will provide you with extra ammo in the immediate area, it may not be enough.
Bosses are tough in this game and require more than just shooting – taking advantage of weak spots while trying not to get backed into a corner is a good piece of advice. The game isn’t very forgiving of mistakes.
That being said, you will predictably get better at shooting as you progress and become more confident with certain weapons, and Boss Battles don’t get too difficult so as to insult you; they are a perfectly balanced challenge in that you feel you may have accomplished something when you win.
The same goes for the puzzles in the game, which have been designed in the classic Resident Evil style.
Progression is based upon solving one puzzle on one area of the map in order to be given access to another part and so on.
While these puzzles aren’t too taxing, they will have you thinking and memorizing specific things and parts of the environment, which provides a great feeling of relief and accomplishment when something falls into place thanks to your thinking.
Released in February this year, the Resident Evil 2 remake has been a resounding success and one that Capcom may be eager to repeat by releasing more remakes of Resi games.
If you are looking for a good, traditional Haloween scare then I cannot recommend this game enough.
Turn down the lights and put on your headphones for the best experience.
Best Psychological Horror Video Game – Visage
When it was announced that games industry legend Hideo Kojima ( Metal Gear Solid) and Hollywood iconic director Guillermo Del Torro were working on a horror game together, the news was exciting, to say the least.
When it was eventually confirmed that the game in question was to be a Silent Hill title named Silent Hills, the gaming world went into a frenzy.
That frenzy was short-lived however thanks to Kojima’ s very public split Konami, the owner and publisher of the Silent Hill brand.
All was not lost though, as a short section of the game was made available as a “Playable Teaser” (P.T) on PlayStation Store and has since become a legend.
When P.T started to gain mythical status in the gaming world it was announced that the game was to be continued as a Kickstarter project by SadSqaure Studios named Visage.
Given copyright issues and legal ramifications, Visage isn’t a direct continuation of P.T but rather a “spiritual successor” to the game, having been developed to capture the look and feel of P.T.
Set in the ’80s, you will play as Dwayne Anderson as you explore a 200-year-old house that has been the subject of controversy thanks to an unusually high amount of unexplained deaths and murders that have taken place there.
Like many good horror movies, things start out fine as you explore around and look for information, however, beginning with ominous sounds and glimpses of otherworldly figures, things get much worse.
The game makes excellent use of jump scares and intensity as light bulbs explode, mirrors smash and amorphous beings chase you down dimly lit corridors.
As the intensity of the horror increases, you will eventually begin to understand that there is something much more sinister at play in the home.
Owing to the increasing intensity of paranormal events throughout the house it becomes evident that an insidious force has made a claim on the sanity of Dwayne, which decreases with each supernatural attack.
This can be counteracted by sticking to lit areas and taking some pills that can be found scattered around the house, however, these do little to fend off the nefarious presence that has engulfed the property.
Being a psychological horror, the slow pace of the game may at first put some people off, however, I must implore you to play on and don’t be dismayed by the lack of any action at the start of the game.
Think of Silent Hill 2, where the action was deliberately delayed until 15 minutes into the game after walking a very long path into the town; you have gone this far, there’s no point in going back now.
As well as horror progression in the game, you will be given some small respites as you uncover the truth of the home in the form of documents and videos, which is now very common in this type of game.
What Visage has over other games in the horror genre is that there are no weapons with which to defend yourself and you will be instantly killed should you be attacked directly by an entity.
This serves to both channel you through a specific and linear progression throughout some parts of the house but also lets you decide the best course of action in other areas; an excellent balance of direction and player control.
Owing to the fact that it is an independently developed title, Visage isn’t the longest game you will have played.
However, if you want a game with an excellent story, extremely intense horror worthy of the best Hollywood movies and a genuinely intriguing mystery with mind-bending moments, then this game is for you.
Here’s my quick list of the top horror games to play this Halloween whether you want action, humor or petrifying terror, this is the definitive rundown of this year’s best spooky and horror games:
- Blair Witch
- The Sims 4: Realm of Magic
- Resident Evil 2
Blair Witch provides a genuine Blair Witch experience with all the iconic locations and plot themes that will excite any Blair Witch fan.
The fun gameplay of The Sims 4: Realm of Magic is a great distraction for the kids this Halloween, or indeed any adult Simmers out there looking to capture some Sam Hain spirit in their game.
Resident Evil 2 is a top-notch remake of a classic and may even be one of those rare cases where the remake is better, having all of the classic Resi gameplay you remember while offering even more.
Finally, Visage is a truly terrifying horror game with genuine Silent Hill roots from two of the world’s most iconic figures in the world of movies and games, guaranteed to scare even the most hardened gamer.
Whatever you choose this Halloween, I urge you to set aside some time, get comfy, turn down the lights and get stuck into your personal fright-fest.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
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Michael is the sole writer and owner at chartxgames.com.
Many thought that his youth (and adulthood) playing video games was a waste of time but here he is writing about them for a living.
Michael has a background in IT and enjoys (apart from video games) building and repairing PC’s, digital artwork (Photoshop, 3DS Max) and has interests in too many subjects to mention.