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Five Recommended Horror Video Games for the Spooky Season

(Image from Complex).


It’s Halloween—the time of witchcraft, spookery, and mischief. It’s no wonder that October becomes the month where people reach out to the horror genre in everything: films, books, and, most importantly for this article, video games. Isn’t it lucky then that you’ve stumbled upon a top ten list chock full of frightening games to play? 


For this eerie season, this article brings you five recommended horror video games to enjoy (or, perhaps more accurately, to terrify). Ranging from some classics in the genre to lesser-known hits, we will be highlighting some of the greats that the video game industry has to offer. Of course, there are many more fantastic horror games that may not have made the list, but we hope that, by having a go at some of the ones listed, it will inspire you to venture further into the horror video game genre.


Strap in; this is going to be a hair-raising ride. 


  1. Resident Evil 4

Leon fights off a parasite in Resident Evil 4's remake.

(Image from digitaltrends).


Perhaps one of the most notorious franchises in the video game industry today, Resident Evil's fourth installment in the series is often considered its greatest triumph.


Originally released on the GameCube in 2005, it has since been developed onto the PlayStation 2 in 1999, with its newest remake being released in 2023 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S (with further versions set to be released for IOS, iPadOS, and macOS later in the year) (iMore, 2023). 


Players control US agent Leon S. Kennedy, who must save Ashley Graham, the daughter of the United States president, from the mysterious Los Illuminados cult. Leon fights hordes of enemies infected by a mind-controlling parasite, and the gameplay popularised the “over-the-shoulder” third-person view that has since been popular within the survival horror and third-person genres in video games (Softpedia, 2007).


The Resident Evil 4 remake is its strongest form, as not only does it remake and update the graphics, but it is also a great reinvention that stands on its own two feet, fixing previous criticisms of the original (i.e., Ashley Graham’s damsel in distress trope). The gameplay intensifies and strengthens Leon S. Kennedy, making him into a true action hero, parrying flying axes and roundhouse-kicking people’s heads off (digitaltrends, 2023). Do not fret, however, for this is still a horror game, with vile parasites and enormous monsters to obliterate and defeat. 


If there’s any horror game to experience, this would be it.


  1. Slender: The Eight Pages

A person standing in a dark room

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(Image from GamesRadar).


Perhaps if you’ve (somehow) never heard of the Resident Evil series before, that’s not entirely abnormal. What would be abnormal, however, is if you’ve never heard of Slender Man before.


Slenderman originates from a creepypasta Internet meme created by Something Awful forum user Eric Knudsen back in 2009, but has since inspired countless horror creative works (The Washington Post, 2017). One of the most famous? Slender: The Eight Pages, which released in 2012 for Microsoft Windows and OS X, and its success led to its sequel, Slender: The Arrival, in 2013.


In Slender: The Eight Pages, the player must collect eight pages scattered around a dark forest while avoiding the Slender Man, who pursues them throughout the game. It has simple graphics and gameplay limited to walking, running, and using a flashlight. Every time you find a page, Slender Man gets closer and harder to avoid. It became extremely popular during its release in Let’s Plays on Youtube, with YouTuber Pewdiepies gameplay reaching a staggering 14 million views on its first episode (to date). 


It's a relatively simple idea and game to play, but the executive still holds up today (if you can forgive its less than ideal graphics). It’s a particularly fun game to play amongst friends, and the best part – it’s free! All you need to do is download it.


  1. Fear & Hunger 

A video game of a person standing in a tunnel with a group of skulls

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(Image from Rock Paper Shotgun). 


A survival horror role-playing video game developed and designed almost solely by Finnish game developer Miro Haverinen, Fear & Hunger is one of the strongest Indie horror games in recent years (DualSHOCKERS, 2023).


Taking place in a dark fantasy and European early modern setting, Fear & Hunger follows one of four playable characters as they delve into the dungeons of Fear and Hunger, facing off against deadly traps, puzzles, and monsters as they make their way deeper. Players get to choose out of four characters to pursue their specific storylines in the game: The Knight, The Mercenary, The Dark Priest, or The Outlander. Moreover, the game features multiple endings based on choices made by the player, with each playable character having multiple different routes to pursue (Rock Paper Shotgun, 2023).


Although it has been criticised for the presence of semi-frequent types and the game’s handling of sensitive topics (i.e., sexual violence), the game has overarchingly received positive reviews, with critics praising the game’s storytelling, atmosphere, and difficulty. 


This is not the game for the light-hearted or the lightheaded, but if RPGS and multiple, brutal endings sound like your type of fun, then this game will be right up your alley. 


  1. Fatal Flame 2: Crimson Butterfly

A group of women standing in a circle of red butterflies

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(Image from GamesRadar).


If the horror genre on this list so far has been a little too Eurocentric for your taste (despite the irony of most developers being, well, Japanese), then perhaps it’s time to discover a Japanese take on the horror genre in video games.


Picking up on the tropes of Japanese horror and folklore that were made famous in J-horror films like The Ring, the Fatal Flame series has always been unsettling and eerie. Developed and published by Tecmo in 2003 for the PlayStation 2, Crimson Butterfly is widely considered to be among the scariest video games ever made (GamesRadar, 2023). It has since been re-released on the PlayStation 3 via PSN in 2013, and a remake of the game titled Project Zero 2: Wii Edition was released for the Wii in 2012 in Europe and Japan.


Despite being a sequel to the original Fatal Frame, the second instalment features an independent story with little relation to the first title. The plot follows twin sisters Mio and Mayu Amakura as they explore an abandoned village and experience encounters with the paranormal. Their lives quickly become threatened when the village spirits begin to possess Mayu and target them as sacrifices for an ancient ritual. The only way players can defeat these enemies is by uncovering the secrets of the village and using a camera that has the power to exorcise the spirits (IGN, 2003). 


A terrifying game that forces the players to fight enemies head-on, it’s no wonder this game is still considered one of the strongest entries in the genre and continues to be celebrated and talked about.


  1. Alien: Isolation

A alien statue in a room

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(Image from GamesRadar).


Finally, we have the last recommendation – Alien: Isolation. Countless games and films have been inspired by elements of the Alien Franchise. Despite this, Alien: Isolation may be the series’ greatest gaming triumph (GamesRadar, 2023). 


Released in 2014 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, and Xbox One (and has since been ported to Linux and OS X in 2015, Nintendo Switch in 2019, Android and iOS mobile devices in 2021, and Amazon Luna service in 2021), the game was developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega. The game is set fifteen years after the events of the original 1979 film, and follows engineer Amanda Ripley, daughter of Alien protagonist Ellen Ripley, as she investigates the disappearance of her mother aboard the space station Sevastopol. Once inside, Amanda discovers that the station has fallen into disarray due to the Alien creature onboard and must now find a way to escape (PC Gamer, 2014). 


Isolation’s tense survival gameplay keeps your pulse pounding as the game emphasizes stealth, requiring the player to avoid, outsmart, and fight enemies with tools like a motion tracker. The player is constantly on guard from the cinematic AI of the Alien, requiring the player, for instance, to hold their breath as they narrowly avoid detection. 


The game is every essence of the word scary. Yet, if this hasn’t been enough to convince you to play the game, perhaps knowing that it won Best Audio at the 2015 Game Developers Choice Awards and Audio Achievement at the 11th British Academy Games Awards may make you think it’s exactly worth the hype it’s getting.  


Genre-defying and downright petrifying, Alien: Isolation (amongst the others on this list) is just perfect for embracing the spooky season. 


Edited by: Shahnawaz Chodhry

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