So you’ve got an Xbox One or a PS4 and you want some horror, do you? Well you’re in luck. The current systems have been blessed (cursed?) with a great number of excellent horror games, each of which are guaranteed to leave you up at night, shivering under the covers.
So grab one, turn off the lights, and crank the sound. You’re not sleeping tonight.
Alien Isolation (PS4, Xbox One)
After the staggering failure of Gearbox Software’s Aliens: Colonial Marines, a direct sequel to the film ALIENS, the idea of Sega producing a prequel game that centered around Ripley’s daughter seemed doomed to failure. That’s why it was so surprising when Alien Isolation ended up being so utterly compelling. Perhaps that’s because it retains the feel of the first ALIEN film so well. You’re basically and defenseless here, and while there’s only one Xenomorph after you the first film is proof that that’s all you need. Watching and hearing the alien walking around as you try to hide from it in any way you can makes for an absolutely terrifying experience. Better still for fans are the two DLC packs set aboard the Nostromo during the actual first film itself. If you thought scene with Parker crawling around the vents with a flamethrower was harrowing to watch, just wait until you’re playing it.
The latest game from Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls developer From Software, Bloodborne takes the medieval fantasy world of their last few games and places it into gothic horror territory. Lovecraftian imagery abounds in this tough-yet-satisfying game which is made more beautiful by being a PS4 exclusive. It’s not a jump-scare kind of game, it’s the kind whose atmosphere just seeps into your bones and makes you afraid to go on, so creepy are some of the areas.
Dying Light (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Techland takes their experience creating the ambitious (yet deeply flawed) Dead Island series and implants it into a world that’s full of free-running. Simply traversing the sun-drenched world is a joy thanks to the jumps, climbing, and rolls you can easily perform, all of which allow you to stay away from the undead hordes. At night though the real baddies come out, fast and dangerous zombies that can easily take you down in seconds, and if you are stranded somewhere far from a safe house it’s time to hoof it back as far as possible. Playing this game co-op is fun but playing it solo makes for a terrifying, lonely experience as you seek to survive overwhelming odds.
Outlast (PS4, PC)
The true success of Outlast is making you feel as if you’re shooting your very own found footage movie. You are exploring an insane asylum armed with nothing but a camcorder with a night vision setting and a criminally tiny battery, all the better to leave you stranded in the dark. You can take notes by recording something, so you’re constantly pulling up the little gadget to peer through it, both hoping that you see something and praying that you don’t. Chances are you’ll just be filming your own death.
Resident Evil (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
The remastered version of the 1998 classic, Resident Evil shows that the original game still has its horror chops. This is an HD version of the 2002 Gamecube remake (which included new enemies and levels, and remixed some puzzles) that doesn’t add anything new to the game besides an optional control scheme, but why mess with something that works? The new graphics engine makes for zombies that are more gruesome than ever before, especially when lit by the fancy new lighting engine, but the core of the game, including the many jump-scares, are just as effective today.
We still miss Barry Burton’s original cheesy voice acting, though.
Zombi (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U)
The only worthwhile Wii U horror game to speak of (at least until Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water comes out later this year), ZombiU was a launch title that managed to utilize the feature of the Wii U GamePad better than almost any game since. You’d use it manage your inventory, hold it up to scan the room, and it just generally felt inseparable from the experience. Ubisoft has proven that this isn’t the case, though, as the recent port (simply titled Zombi, without the U) proves. This is a remarkable zombie game that shows a destroyed London. Your character is usually some common person- a Superintendent, a Pharmacist, a Copywriter- who’s fighting his or her way through the hordes. The problem is that they’re quite mortal and if they die, they’re dead forever. You’ll play the next poor sucker who’s living through this nightmare, and your former character is now undead… and carrying all the loot you picked up before. A dark, bleak experience that stands out from its peers.
This one hurts. P.T. is no longer available, so if you didn’t download it in the few months after its release during E3 this year it’s likely you will never play it. Those who did nab the cryptic Konami game were surprised to find one of the most original and downright unsettling experiences in years, made all the more remarkable when you realized that it was set entirely in one L-shaped corridor. You enter the corridor, travel down it, and head down the stairs to a door- which opens up back where you started. Each time you go through the hall things… change. Strange sounds hint at horrible things just out of sight, radio broadcasts tell about horrible events, and eventually you start to meet some of the things living in this mad place. Get to the end and you finally find out what the game actually was- a teaser for a Silent Hill game (“Silent Hills”) that has since been canceled. It’s a shame, as this demo alone showed more promise than any horror game in recent memory.
Until Dawn (PS4)
With a script by Larry Fessenden (WE ARE STILL HERE, HABIT) and Graham Reznick (THE INNKEEPERS, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL), Until Dawn is basically the horror version of Heavy Rain, an interactive drama that’s full of grisly death. This is a wonderful homage to slasher films from two people that understand the genre through and through. Playing through one makes things worse, of course, when it’s your own dumb decisions that lead to the main characters dying off one by one. That will happen a lot no matter what choices you make, which customizes your experience and leaves you with one of dozens of possible endings. Good luck surviving the night.