Halloween is finally here and if you’re anything like me, you’re absolutely obsessed with horror. Does that mean I’m a seasoned veteran that can push through the most terrifying experiences without getting worked up? Absolutely not! I’m a scaredy cat, but I wear that badge with pride, and it’s part of what makes playing the scariest games possible so exciting for me.
And if you’ve come here for some spooky recommendations, I’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking to be struck with existential dread, run through jump-scare central, laugh during multiplayer shenanigans, or traverse a randomly generated nightmare facility, there’s something in here for you.
Phasmophobia is a game I will never stop recommending in horror-themed listicles. I’ve put nearly fifty hours into it, and regardless of how much time passes between sessions, I’m always willing to jump in with friends. Halloween offers an even greater justification, as there’s something undeniably joyous about grabbing some buddies and scaring the absolute crap out of yourselves.
Halloween is a social holiday. People watch horror films together, run around in costume, and share scary stories, so it’s important to find some time for multiplayer shenanigans. Phasmophobia’s terrifying focus on atmospheric horror brings this to the forefront. There’s nothing better than solving a mystery with friends whilst fearing a murderous apparition set on slaughtering each one of you.
Frictional Games, developers behind the widely popular Amnesia: The Dark Descent, completely changed the script with this one. Soma isn’t explicitly Halloween-themed, and it’s not terrifying in the way most horror is, as it offers a limited focus on jump-scares, life-threatening chase-sequences, and scary monsters. Those aspects are absolutely present during key moments, but what Soma doles out for days to make up for it is existential dread.
This is an experience that I can best describe as cerebrally terrifying. Its “traditional” horror moments are tertiary to its sense of immersion, dialogue, and puzzles. There is a deep narrative here, one that is constantly gripping and boasts a series of fantastic, jaw-dropping revelations. It will make you question your own reality, your own goals, and what it means to be human. I haven’t stopped thinking about its script since I finished it, and I could not recommend it more for people looking to be completely changed this Halloween.
Resident Evil is a common recommendation for someone in need of a scary game during Halloween. There’s a good reason this became one of the 8 game franchises I fell in love with. Nearly every entry in this prestigious franchise would make for a great pick (excluding a few we don’t talk about), but instead of listing new stuff you’ve probably already played, I’d like to talk about the first Resident Evil and why you should give it a try.
Yes, I know. You can’t stand the elevated camera perspective. You’re probably wishing Capcom would finally come out with an over-the-shoulder remake so you could experience it properly. But trust me, the atmosphere brought about by that tightness is indescribably potent. You will shiver in fear exploring the tight corridors of that iconic mansion.
But don’t play the very original Resident Evil on PlayStation. That’s not worth it, unless you’re a diehard fan who wants to experience the whole series from start to finish. I’m specifically talking about the Resident Evil remake, which came out in 2002 for the GameCube. It also has a HD Remaster available on Steam, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. If you still haven’t played this one, what better time is there than during the spookiest season of the year?
Little Nightmares’ ethereal quality makes it a perfect adventure for Halloween. There’s an eerie quiet to its world, and as the player takes on the role of a little girl in constant fear of darkness, you’ll start to feel like a wooden doll trapped in a world of nightmares. Grotesque and absurd depictions of imprisonment, claustrophobia, and nightmarish fiends coalesce into a gripping tale, one which ends on a morbidly fascinating note.
I adore Little Nightmare’s obsession with mechanical terror, showcasing the loneliest aspects of industry and innovation. It feels like a modern fever dream, offering a glimpse at what happens when people gorge themselves on progress and design, and how easily they can lose their humanity. It’s all very abstract and cryptic, but every set piece is burnt into my mind.
SCP: Containment Breach
If you’re stuck with an underpowered PC or don’t want to spend money buying anything this Halloween, I highly recommend SCP: Containment Breach. It’s a short, free-to-play horror game that takes place deep within a terrifying, inescapable facility. A collection of imprisoned monsters have been let loose after an abrupt security breach; you’re a prisoner, trying to find their way out of this nightmare while being chased by all manner of entities.
While there is structure to this place, it is randomly generated and the entities behave based on a strict set of parameters. It is up to you to figure out each and every one of their quirks, and through experimentation and careful reading, you can push through the other side. There’s something genuinely terrifying about being trapped in a horror game based entirely on a monster’s encounter patterns rather than predetermined jump-scares or chase sequences. When you catch glimpse of a monster, it is abundantly clear that its presence isn’t scripted. And that’s terrifying.
Cry of Fear
Similar to the previous entry, Cry of Fear is perfect if your PC is older and you’re lacking the funds for a new game. This is a free-to-play first-person survival horror title built on a very old engine; you should be able to run it with ease, and it’s surprisingly lengthy.
But Cry of Fear is a weird one. On one hand, I’ve never been more terrified playing a video game before. Every session sent shivers down my spine, making me dread whenever I had to return to it. Each corner caused my heart to sink into my chest, and whenever I got to a new area, I couldn’t help but think “when is this over?” There is an excellent sense of atmospheric dread here, and you will fall in love with how well the game utilizes darkness, decrepit modern settings, and overpowering music to set the tone.
On the other hand, Cry of Fear is jumpscare-central. I dreaded coming around every corner because they’d often place an enemy that screams at the top of its lungs as it chases you when you turn that corner. Every area of darkness was rewarded with an almost definite surprise, and tons of gimmicks would repeat loud noises and scary visuals in your face quite bombastically. So yes, this game made my heart pound, but it is a little cheap in its method of doing so. If you’re okay with playing something jumpscare-heavy, I think you’ll find some joy in Cry of Fear.
Dead Space is a horrendous, unsanitary trek through a derelict space station. If you want to spend your Halloween using a high-powered plasma weapon to gloriously remove the arms, legs, and heads of alien monstrosities, this is absolutely the game for you. I was genuinely impressed by the variety of environments throughout the game’s focused setting, and frequently, you’ll find yourself absolutely stricken with fear at some new, vile monster to battle.
Accompanied by a hallucinatory narrative, classic survival horror action, and tons of great weapons, you will have a blast with Dead Space if you’re a fan of Resident Evil, as both share over-the-shoulder gameplay and feature a similar aiming system. This isn’t a game for the squeamish, though. Similar to the soon-to-launch Callisto Protocol, there’s plenty of gore, and you will frequently see your playable character torn apart in gruesome ways.
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Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.