The moment when you finally flip your calendar to a new month is always exciting, but no month gets a better welcome than October. Finally, a themed month has returned to grace us with its awesome might. August is simply August and September is simply September, but October has one of the major holidays that makes it a standout month. Halloween is just around the corner, and the season is once again being highlighted by horror movies, TV shows, and video games. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the creepiest, scariest, and most haunting games of this console generation.
- The Evil Within (2014)
While I haven’t yet been able to get my hands on The Evil Within 2, which releases on October 13, the first game deserves a mention on this list. The Evil Within casts the player in a world where reality is being bent and reshaped. Player-character Sebastian Castellanos is forced to make his way through various distorted locations and constantly has to avoid, outrun, or defeat the brutish and mutilated human test-subjects.
The player has to use the objects in the environment around them to keep them alive. Materials can be gathered and crafted into the player’s arsenal, and everyday items can be used to lure and distract enemies away. Enemies like the chainsaw-wielding “Sadist” help fill out this world that sets the player in a multitude of creepy environments from an abandoned mental hospital to a hauntingly-lit forest.
The horror elements of this game excel from the use of screen-space. The third-person perspective creates a distance between Sebastian and the player, and that distance is personified in Sebastian’s own body. He takes up a good chunk of the screen, adding tension by limiting the vision of the player. The cinematic aspect ratio “black bars” on the top and bottom of the screen add to this tension, creating a claustrophobic screen that always has the player on their toes.
- Doom (2016)
Doom truly needs no introduction. The game redefined the modern FPS and stands as one of the best single-player experiences in the last ten years. As the Doom Slayer, players must rip and tear through every demon infesting Mars, and eventually conquer Hell itself.
Now, this game is not a survival-horror experience in any way. It is a fast-paced, high-octane action experience that always keeps the player excited and ready for the next fight. So why is it here on this list? Simple: The UAC. The Union Aerospace Corporation is seeking to harness energy from Hell. While at first seeming like a typical heartless corporation with no love for their employees, It becomes quickly apparent that the UAC has molded into a cult, one with terrifying implications.
Doom practically gives the UAC a satirical tone, one that says “Don’t take all of this too seriously.” This message comes across extremely well, but the UAC hologram that often pops up in certain locations always gives me the chills. His gleeful automated messages asked hopeful interns to sacrifice their organs, and encouraged long-time employees to volunteer for demonic transformation. Hell brainwashed the UAC to the point where literally no one was left alive. There are few things creepier than a total loss of rationality and voluntary self-demonization.
3. Dying Light (2015)
Dying Light is a first-person zombie horror game where the player is air-dropped into the infected city of Harran in search of stolen classified information. Upon landing, the player is immediately attacked by bandits and is swiftly saved by members of a survivors’ sanctuary. At this sanctuary, called the Tower, the player is recruited to help save other citizens still struggling to survive the spreading zombie threat.
The game’s combat focus lies mostly in melee weapons, of which there are a surprisingly large number. These weapons degrade with use, forcing the player to scavenge for replacements. Movement in the game involves parkour, an athletic freestyle form of running that includes climbing, jumping and hurdling at high speeds. This allows for the player to swiftly overcome obstacles in the open-world city, climb to seemingly unreachable goals, and outrun any opponents when a fight becomes too overwhelming.
While the game’s movement adds to the overall tension, the horror elements of Dying Light truly shine when the sun goes down over Harran. The zombies are weakened by the ultraviolet rays of the sun, but the true threat emerges when the light dies in Dying Light. Zombies are faster, deal more damage, and become an unstoppable force that is quite difficult to tackle. The nighttime segments of the game, coupled with the excellent use of low-light environments, helps to maintain a high level of creepiness every time the sun sets.
- Outlast 2 (2017)
In this sequel to the original Outlast, players take part in a psychological horror-thriller that tears into the mind of the main character Blake Langermann. Blake is the cameraman in the journalistic duo consisting of himself and his wife Lynn, and both are separated when they crash land in Arizona. Attempting to find his wife, Blake must hide from both terrifying cultists and his own vivid hallucinations.
Gameplay revolves around stealth, as the player has no way to combat their pursuers. The player can run, hide, crouch, but they cannot defend themselves in a meaningful way. In addition to outrunning (or outlasting) the insane residents of the town of Temple Gate, the player character must take part in terrifying hallucinations. Many of these reveal background on the main characters, adding a context that raises the stakes of Blake’s struggle.
Outlast 2 continues the modern horror trend of games in which the player cannot fight back. The game stands above its contemporaries by creating a truly haunting atmosphere: dense fog covers most of the darkened region, and the player must use their night-vision camera in order to make solid progress. Of course, that camera runs on batteries, and there are few things more frightening than losing visibility in a dangerously dark world.
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017)
This particular franchise departed from the survival-horror genre that it was so well-known for with Resident Evil 5 and 6, instead focusing on action and combat. When trailers dropped for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, fans were both hopeful and hesitant. The return to true horror was welcomed with open arms, but the transition to a first-person perspective would be a difficult hurdle. Thankfully, the game delivered.
The player must fend off the wild and insane Baker family and the humanoid mutants known as “the Molded”. The main character Ethan Winters is quite capable of defending himself, but the Baker family members cannot be killed. This forces the player to employ stealth, speed, and tactical withdrawals as often as possible.
Biohazard is one of the cornerstones of modern survival-horror games. Its emphasis on exploration sets the player off in a gruesomely terrifying world, a world where every step forward could lead to disaster. The Baker house itself was masterfully designed to be both haunting and beautiful (in an incredibly horrifying way). It’s one of those games where you always find yourself glued to the screen, no matter how much your blood pressure may rise.