No.6 Condemned: Criminal Origins
The Condemned series is all about visceral hand-to-hand, in-your-face combat using a variety of blunt-force-trauma-inducing weaponry. No other game on this list provides the same type of exhilarating combat. Plugging a bad guy from a mile away is easy; feeling his breath on your screen as you pitifully attempt to tear him off you in order to deliver a baseball bat strike to his short-term memory is an entirely different experience.
And that’s his face BEFORE I hit him with the bat!
Toss in a serial killer on the prowl plot taken straight from, nutty cultists on the loose, and a route that will take you through abandoned subways, demolished buildings, and empty department stores, and you have a recipe for a creepy good time.
No.5 DmC: Devil May Cry
Right, so weeping fanboys everywhere were outraged when DmC: Devil May Cry came out earlier this year. But, so what? Yeah, yeah, old Dante is missed, but this reboot has great story telling and spectacular, often horrific, visuals. Dress up as the old Dante and play DmC this as a half angel, half demon and slay, bitches.
No.4 Aliens versus Predators 2
Included for two reasons: Because Aliens: Colonial Marines sucked miserably, and primarily because of the infamous motion tracker from James Cameron’s Aliens, a movie that traumatized me for life when my parents took the 8-year-old version of myself to see it in theaters. So, really, the modern day mental health problems are their fault, when you really think about it. Thanks, Mom and Dad! I owe it all to you!
Truly, the single most unnerving sound effect ever created.
No.3 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate (HD)
What Halloween list is complete without a Dracula entry? That would be like ordering chicken nuggets without byproducts. Earlier this year, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate was released on the 3DS, and now, lo and behold, it’s coming to PSN and Xbox Live Arcade on October 31st. Is there a greater omen than that? Side-scrolling action has always been a favorite of mine, since the days of the NES, and with upgraded graphics, well… what else needs to be said. Vampire hunting never looked so good.
No.2 Dead Space
While Dead Space is an undeniably scary game, it muscles its way onto this list not by virtue of its scares, but rather because of its general unfairness. While a game like Duke Nukem Forever features a decidedly unfair spawning system, constantly dropping bad guys right on top of you, this is more of a badly implemented coding situation than anything else. Not so in Dead Space, which delights in having its mutated freaks spawn with one claw already dug deep in your left eye socket on purpose.
No other game has made me check and double check my six quite as often as Dead Space, even though I know I won’t spot any approaching critter until the game decides it’s time to scare me out of a year’s growth, at which point it’s time to frantically hit every button on the gamepad, pee myself, curse in several different languages including Klingon, and attempt to negotiate with said beast for the sanctity of my remaining eyeball. Not necessarily in that order. The end result, unsurprisingly, is always the same. Bloody, stabby eyeball trauma.
And my pick for scariest game to play on Halloween is…
No.1 Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Many authors have their works converted to games based on their writing. Clive Barker’s Undying is a stellar example. Even Stephen King’s The Dark Half was adapted in the form of a 1992 adventure game. But for sheer, spectacular WTF-ness, nothing beats the granddaddy of all masters: H.P Lovecraft.
Dark Corners Of The Earth is a more or less faithful adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth and takes the term survival horror to new, frightful heights. Your character is completely unarmed for large portions of the game, relying instead on evasion and escape. While guns and other weapons provide some protection against the living and other esoteric creatures, your sanity is always unprotected from the insane goings on at Innsmouth.
The game features a sanity meter, which depletes based on which bowel-loosening sights you take in. It’s a double-edged sword: on the one hand, if you look away your character won’t lose his shit and take his own life, which really can happen… but you’ll miss out on seeing all the weird, tentacle creatures doing unspeakable things on the edge of your peripheral vision…
Clearly, the dude had some issues with his mother.
So there you have it. These are the games that I break out on Halloween. Turn off the lights, turn that sound dial all the way up, beware of stray Dobermans leaping through windows and whatever you do… do not disturb Cthulhu while he’s in his room doing demonic, Elder God things that shall remain nameless!
“Dude, I’m working on a deductible for my 401K, I swear.”