It’s getting to that time of the year when witches fly and things go bump in the night. Yep, it’s Halloween! And what better way to make the night in question go with a scream than by playing some of 2017’s scariest Xbox One games? There is an added bonus as well – to appreciate these games fully you need to have a headset plugged in and turned up loud. If you do, you won’t be able to hear the trick or treaters banging on the door, or indeed the splattering of eggs on the outside of the house with. So turn off the lights, crank the volume and get ready to tremble!
This list of five games is not in any specific order, but all the games on it are more than worthy of your time..
Bit of a no brainer this one, having been released in the Halloween season and being the work of Shinji Mikami, the undisputed king of survival horror games.
Let’s face it, creeping around a corrupted town, trying not to make too much noise so the zombified residents don’t hear you, while creeping up behind them and putting them down is always fun. When the character designs are this good though, it’s even creepier. Sitting in the dark, creeping through an alley when you hear the tell tale giggling/chuntering of a baddie. . . Is it left of the alley? Right? You creep out to get a better view and it hears you, comes running at you and you have to shoot in self defense! The gunshot is heard by more creatures, and now running is your only option.
The Evil Within 2 can be genuinely heart pounding… and scary… and suspenseful as well. The bosses, with their seriously warped designs, are like the cherry on the top of your Halloweeny cake. But seriously though, I wonder if anyone has ever psychoanalysed Mikami-San; I think the results would be very interesting.
Orcs and trolls! Orcs and trolls as far as the eye can see!
No, I’m not talking about the Halloween parties in Nottingham (although it’s not far off, to be fair), I’m talking about the recent Middle-earth: Shadow of War.
Sure, some will argue that this is more a fantasy game than a horror one, and they wouldn’t be wrong to do so, but with Captains that you are sure you killed and dismembered coming back to attack you again and again, looking more banged up and held together with strips of metal each time they do, there’s a strong case for this game having zombies in.
And that fits the theme of the article, so I’m including it.
As with The Evil Within 2, a choice of stealth or blazing in with blades flashing is on offer, and once you can have Orcs on your team, you’ll be laying waste to monsters before you can say “Are there any more Haribo left, I’ve not heard a knock on the door all night!”.
Halloween = Resident Evil. Am I right? And this time around the move to first person really ramps up the tension.
Creeping through a darkened house, watching out for ghouls and ghosts (ok, members of a crazy family and giant bacteria, but you catch my drift), marks a return to series roots, where horror is emphasised over all out action (step forward RE5 and 6). This again can lead to a need for clean underwear, as it is extremely claustrophobic and fear-inducing, playing from a first person viewpoint. In fact, I was almost expecting Alma to pop out from the seminal F.E.A.R. series, just to add that little extra twist, that extra frisson of, well, fear!
Despite the temptation that must have been present for the developers to turn this into some kind of Call of Duty clone, I think they have the balance between combat and creeping about, raising the tension and setting the scene just about right.
Again, curtains closed, lights off and headset cranked up, and there won’t be a dry seat in the house when you’re playing Resident Evil 7 biohazard.
Bethesda took the Prey franchise in a different direction for this year’s reboot, and as such moved the game from the sci-fi setting of the first game to a scarier, darker place for the new game.
Waking up with a trip to a space station planned, when the main protagonist, Morgan Yu, reaches the destination he finds the place deserted, with only the Typhon for company. The Typhon are an alien species that were captured and incarcerated on the space station, so as you can only imagine that they are out and about – a nice cup of coffee and chat are not really on their agenda.
Instead, they use their chameleon abilities to hide in plain sight, causing every room to be an exercise in pre-emptive defense. When even an innocent coffee cup can be a crawling, shadowy spider looking horror, it soon becomes second nature to shoot anything that looks like it may even start to move.
Stealthy I wasn’t in this game, kicking open doors and blasting away like Duke Nukem on a bad day. I have to say, the setting and premise for Prey is one that stayed with me, and even in my kitchen I’m not above giving the mugs a bit of a poke to make sure they aren’t going to move!
Sometimes, for a game to be scary or for it to get into your head, the violence doesn’t need to be explicit, and the gore doesn’t need to look like an explosion in a ketchup factory.
For proof of this, see Little Nightmares, a game in which you control a child in a yellow rain slicker, known only as Six, trying to escape from The Maw, an enormous ship that houses corrupted souls looking for their next meal.
As you explore, you’ll meet various fantastic denizens that you have to defeat, such as the Twin Chefs and The Lady, who you will have to defeat if Six is ever to escape. Doing so requires a large amount of lateral thinking, and in this it differs from the other games on the list, as direct combat is pretty much out of the question. Six deals with trouble by running, hiding and utilising items that are lying around in the environment, and as such Little Nightmares represents a change of pace from the others I have chosen. Even so, the setup and the environments that Six finds, represent such twisted hunger, and such a dark and lonely existence, that this game manages to bring the horror without being too blatant about it, with a lot of what you see suggesting that hideous acts are taking place, rather than desensitising you further with another exploding head, for instance.
For slow burning, all pervading horror you’d have to go a long way to find a game that is more effective than this one.
Obviously, there are a million and one games that you can play on Halloween, and this list has to be fairly brutal in culling the list to a manageable proportions. When putting it together, there were some games that almost made the cut.
First up is the Friday the 13th game, which despite having poor reviews just kind of begs to be played at this time of year. For those of you with EA Access, the Dead Space 1 and 2 games are available for free, and if you haven’t played them, then Halloween is the right time! The eye scene in Dead Space 2 still haunts me to this day.
Plants Vs Zombies, either the classic version or the Garden Warfare series are always worth a look, and will bring some much needed bright, colourful relief to the parade of blood, guts and horror that I’ve suggested you try. And finally any of the myriad of zombie games that are around, be it in any of the Call of Duty games, the aptly named #KILLALLZOMBIES, Dead Alliance or any of the others that can have sticks shaken at them.
But anyway, that’s my list. What games will you be settling down to this Halloween? Have I missed any obvious games? Chime in on the comments section and let us know.