This year I’ve been disappointed to see that there won’t be anything special on TV for Halloween, or indeed anything really on at the cinema. I’ve also been nonplussed with some of the horrors this year – whilst still being amazed at the diversity of the work being produced over in the Far East (my recommendations being Three…Extremes and A Tale of Two Sisters).
I’m concerned about the lack of interesting stuff happening on Halloween. The highlight of all my years of Halloween celebrations was seeing Ghostwatch – simply brilliant television of a fake documentary which had the British public up in arms way back in 1992 – and I’ve never had the same experience again. Those who know me personally know that I love a good fright film/game/experience and so I feel sadly let down this year.
This is why I have decided to give you, the Gadzooki audience, my top pics for scary games for Halloween. I know that America does Halloween in a bigger way than us here in the UK so no doubt your celebrations would be better – however, this is how I’ll be spending some of my time on the night, along with revisiting some old classic movies such as The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. Without further ado, here’s the first game in my list:
Silent Hill (PS)
Silent Hill was released all the way back in October 13th (in America anyway) 2000. It features a protagonist named Harry Mason, who after an accident blacks out, only to find his daughter missing. Naturally, he begins wandering around the town of Silent Hill to find her, only to find instead all manner of crazy monsters and terrifying scenes.
Of course, a game from 2000 naturally looks dated now – however the first game is still the best (Silent Hill 2 comes an incredibly close second). Silent Hill oozes atmosphere from every pore, offering a sinister world where nothing is quite what it seems and symbolism/iconography of the genre is everywhere. It is by far one of the scariest games ever, and naturally enough it comes as no surprise that I can still remember playing it. Of course, Silent Hill is now a hugely successful franchise with a movie already out, and another in discussion.
Project Zero (Xbox/PS2)
Fatal Frame (or Project Zero as it is known here in Europe) is a survival horror game with a difference. Whilst Resident Evil gave you guns and Silent Hill gave you pipes and all manner of melee weapons Project Zero gave you a camera. Scary huh? Well, actually yes. Project Zero gave you a setting which would otherwise been seen as a cliché – but frankly hasn’t been used that much in video games. Namely the haunted house.
Miku goes in search of her brother, who was last seen at a ‘haunted house’. Naturally enough, she goes after him and finds a camera with the ability to exorcise spirits. Sounds a little silly but I can’t emphasise just how eerie the game is. As you slowly wander around the quiet hallways and darkened rooms (the game is kept at a naturally slow pace until you have an encounter) you’ll see ghosts appear then walk through walls, odd noises, screams and many other things.
Compared to Silent Hill, Project Zero works on a more conscious level, giving you shocks, jolts and chills down the spine. Once again, this was also turned into a successful series with a movie projected for next year. Play it, but make sure to pack your extra rolls of film!
Resident Evil (PS)
Whilst a lot of people would say that Resident Evil is the quintessential horror game, I’m afraid that I’d have to disagree. I played the first, skipped the rest of the games until the Remake on the GC and then skipped zero and the others until Resident Evil 4. As you can see from the title, the game I’m focussing on for Halloween is the original incarnation on the PS – way back in 1996.
The premise was simple and fairly unique (though of course as everyone always tells you, Alone in the Dark came first) in that you were part of a team sent in to find out what had gone on in a strange house. As part of a special team (STARS) you go to a mansion, to discover zombies, dogs, crows and all manner of things trying to kill you.
Unlike the other two games I’ve mentioned, Resident Evil has seemingly gotten less scary over time, with a few bad films under the franchise belt too. However I’ll always remember the original as a game that really did scare me. Wandering along those corridors, trying to work out the puzzle whilst making sure I didn’t run out of ammo was truly scary. I’d say that Resident Evil has the least involving and worst storyline of the horror games here, but it is also worth a play, 10 years on.
So there we are, three top games for Halloween. Interestingly it is more than that though, as most of the games in each franchise are worth playing – and I’m not sure I know of one that got a really bad score or that I didn’t enjoy. My personal tip remains Silent Hill – I guess those subconscious symbols have their claws into me! Anyway, have a fun-filled and frightening gaming Halloween!