To me, there is no season lovelier than fall. I adore the brisk mornings and cool evenings, the colorful foliage that turns my typically mundane neighborhood into a picturesque dreamscape, and, of course, the MLB playoffs. But what I love most of all during this time of year is October; not because my birthday falls on the 23rd, but because of Halloween and all of the spookiness that comes with it.
Although I seldom get scared from games, movies, or TV shows, I love horror. When done right, it is perhaps the most interesting genre across all forms of entertainment, especially gaming. There is nothing tenser than defenselessly running and hiding from a psychopath or hideous monster. I also appreciate the strategy involved in ammo and supplies conservation, and those moments where you have to make a split decision on whether you should fight or flee.
With Halloween just around the corner, time to get all of your scares in is running thin. With that being said, here are a few excellent and quick horror games you can finish before the end of the month.
I wasn’t crazy about the ending of Outlast. Without spoiling too much, I found it to be inconsistent with the feel of the rest of the game. Everything that comes before it, however, is incredible. I can’t remember the last time I played a game that scared me as much. Moments such as treading through knee-high, psychopath-infested water in the pitch black and hiding from a scissor-wielding madman are among the most terrifying I’ve ever experienced in any game.
You have no way to defend yourself, and at any moment you may find yourself face-to-face with a hideous maniac that is dying to bash your brains in. I can still vividly remember hiding under beds and inside of lockers while nervously watching disfigured creeps scour the room for me. Personally, I’ve never been more scared by any film, TV show, or game in my life, and I can’t wait to play the second one this week. At a length just around 6 hours, Outlast can easily be completed before Halloween, even if you start it over the weekend.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Considered by many to be the best horror game of all time, Amnesia: The Dark Descent puts you in the shoes of Daniel, an archaeologists whom has lost his memory and must rely on a note he wrote to help him escape a spooky Victorian-era castle. Along the way, you are confronted by treacherous, disfigured creatures known as The Gatherers of Alexander, and are unable to defend yourself against them, forcing you to run and hide.
What I love about Amnesia is that it forces you to use your wits. It’s based around solving a series of puzzles, and if you fail, you face some pretty gruesome consequences. Most likely, you’ll find yourself hacked to bits by some hideous freaks. Perhaps the most horrifying thing about Amnesia is how Daniel can lose his sanity after witnessing too many hideous acts or being in the darkness for too long. It’s a fascinating mechanic that makes the game unique and more difficult.
If you’re interested in playing Amnesia before the end of the month, you should start this week because it takes about 8-10 hours to complete.
Until Dawn isn’t nearly as scary as the other games on this list. In fact, it isn’t scary at all. Essentially, it’s a cheesy teen slasher flick turned video game. However, I love it because it forces you to make decisions that actually affect the outcome of the story; choices that really matter. For example, there’s a scene where two characters are sitting at a table, and one has to make a decision to shoot the other or turn the gun on himself and pull the trigger. Without spoiling too much, I can tell you that whatever choice you make impacts the narrative in a major way further down the road.
On top of the dynamic story, Until Dawn features an all-star cast of voice actors and actresses. From big names like Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) and Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) to lesser-known celebs like Meaghan Martin (Camp Rock), the game is chock full of solid performances. If you’re looking for something quick to play before Halloween, you can probably get through Until Dawn in about 7-8 hours. However, you’re going to want to do multiple playthroughs because there are many ways your story can end. The goal is to get everyone through the night alive, but that proves to be more difficult than it seems.
Made by Frictional Games, the same studio that developed Amnesia: The Dark Descent, SOMA takes a different approach to horror than the former. It doesn’t have as many spooky shadow monsters that are out for your blood. There really aren’t many characters other than the one you control, and that’s what makes it so eerie. It’s centered on a shift between 2015 and 2104, when humans have been wiped out by a comet, and what remains of humanity must fight for survival in an underwater research facility.
Like Until Dawn, SOMA might not be as scary as other games on this list, but it does a fantastic job of combining a fresh concept with a dark and brooding atmosphere. It’s horror on a more psychological level, making you consider that everything you are experiencing is in your own mind. There are creepy sights and sounds that make you scramble for cover, unsettling robots that are certain they are human, and creepy environments where you make one frightening discovery after another. One of the longer games in this post, SOMA can be completed in 9-10 hours, so if you want to finish before the 31st, get started soon!
Condemned: Criminal Origins
It’s been a long time since I’ve played Condemned: Criminal Origins, but I remember playing it in my dark bedroom and constantly being on the edge of me seat. You’re put in the shoes of Ethan Thomas, an FBI detective assigned to investigate a series of gruesome serial killer murders. From one grotesque crime scene to the next, you’re attacked by insane vagrants, junkies, human mannequins, and other disturbing enemies. Ammo is scarce, but melee weapons are not. Instead of shooting, you make waste of your psychopathic foes by bludgeoning or slicing them with everyday objects like lead pipes, paper cutters, and even toilet seats.
Aside from being able to beat someone’s ass with obscure weapons like desk drawers and bowling pins, I love Condemned’s combat for its smooth, precise mechanics. If you don’t time your blocks and attacks correctly, you’re going to have a bad time. You can’t just swing wildly; you need to be smart and patient in combat. Also, unlike many horror games, the story actually holds up and will keep you interested throughout its entirety. One playthrough can range from 7-10 hours, so you should have no trouble finishing before Halloween if you start playing this weekend.
What are some short-and-sweet horror games that you recommend I play the remainder of October? I’ll probably finish Outlast 2 this week, so I’ll need something spooky to play over the weekend. Leave your recommendations in the comments below!