My favorite horror themed video game is easily Majora’s Mask. The atmosphere in this classic Zelda is intense, to say the least. Partly inspired by Alice in Wonderland, the game transports Link to an outside world. Termina, on the brink of destruction itself, creates a chilling atmosphere. Even the animations for putting on the transformation masks is chilling. While the game doesn’t have a lot of “horror” elements (The Gibdo area being the closest to a “horror” game experience), I believe it still fits the criteria of a horror themed video game. When I played Majora’s Mask as a child, it creeped me out. If you are interested in reading my thoughts on Majora’s Mask, check out this article that I wrote.
I’m kind of an old school gamer, as I tend to like more the games that resemble the ones from my youth, being the Castlevania series one of my favorite ways to get angry at my old NES. but then I played the Duology: “Castlevania Aria of Sorrow” and “Dawn of Sorrow” for the GBA and the DS respectively. And I love them. They have the perfect balance of the Metroidvania style exploration and a neat RPG level system. Also, being able to play as Dracula was a fantastic idea, even if he wasn’t “100% Dracula”, as you play as his reincarnation, the young Soma Cruz. The best part was to capture the souls of your enemies and get their abilities, this made the game feel more like a collectathon than a grind fest like other RPGs.
And, what about the horror? Well, just look at the DS redesigns, they look horrible.
While I enjoy horror elements in a variety of games, my favorite dedicated horror game has to be Clock Tower. The atmosphere and villain succeed in genuinely scaring me enough to stay awake at night when I first experienced it. Just can’t beat the classics.
My go to is always the Dark Souls series though I’ve been leaning more towards Bloodborne lately. The atmosphere in every Souls game is that of desolation and oppression and the constant fear of dying and losing all of your progress makes it that much more tense. One thing that stands out the most to me is the Catacombs area from Dark Souls 1. Navigating the Catacombs your first time is pretty terrifying. Low visibility, tight spaces, lots of ledges to fall off of, powerful enemies and a forgotten horror that lurks at the very depths of the darkness. Sorry boys and girls, you’ll have to witness that horror first hand.
While I have an annual tradition where I play at least some of the IGA Castlevania games each October – this year it was Aria of Sorrow, Harmony of Dissonance, and Portrait of Ruin – Voyager’s already scratched that itch, and I like “SG Choice” to have more, well, choice. This is also a time that’s great for Resident Evil 4, but I’d like to spend a bit of time talking about a favorite of mine: Deadly Premonition. This weird cult survival horror/puzzle/sandbox game is really a great fall game; its forestry and plot-relevant rain give it an autumnal feel. It’s goofy, Twin Peaks inspired mystery has the right holiday mix of spooky and silly. And while its gastronomical tastes are geared more towards savory than sugary, it has that wonderful design where you’re never quite sure you’re going to get. A bit of surprise, whether from a unique treat or unexpected costume, is an underrated part of Halloween. And Deadly Premonition has that in spades.
Although I considered several games, such as Bioshock and the Resident Evil remake long and hard, I’m going to have to be honest with myself and list Super Castlevania IV as my favorite horror game. The game made a huge impact on me as a young gamer. It is so just so amazingly atmospheric, and the music is astounding. The sprite work is so large and clear when compared to the SNES games, and the addition of multi-direction whipping really made the franchise feel fresh. The enemies and locals are just the right amount of creepy, and the game’s difficulty is hard without being frustrating. It really is an absolute classic.
I nominate Capcom’s Dead Rising. The tension isn’t really provided by the zombies, however. Instead, it stems from the in-game time limit. The zombies are there to slow you down, but they’ll still take you out if you’re careless! The wayward psychopaths will too, and if you’ve just started, then they outclass Frank in every measurable way. You have to budget your time and innovatory for three days while surviving the threats lurking throughout the Willamette Parkview Mall to succeed. (It’s a shame how all of Dead Rising’s sequels get progressively more removed from what made the original so rewarding.)
A big part of horror and Halloween are monsters. Kid and adults alike dress up as them every year and people constantly enjoy movies about the likes of Frankenstein, Martians and Zombies. So my favourite Horror themed video game has to be Zombies ate my Neighbours for the SNES. It is not the scariest game out there but it is one of the best co-op games. It has an arcade style structure and is incredibly early 90s. But the monster variety is wonderful and the amount of stages is ridiculous. Especially as the game provides a lot of challenge. It is fun, addictive, challenging and a great laugh with friends.
I hardly know where to begin on this one. Resident Evil 4, Dead Rising and Zombies Ate My Neighbours are all equally worthy candidates, but I think in the end the nod just has to go to Dead Rising. A game I have played possibly an innumerable number of times. Everything about the game is perfect. The memorable psychopath fights, the choices you’re left with, the amount of fun you can have simply playing around with the zombies. Bliss.