Happy Halloween everyone! It's that wonderful time of the year when we grab a bowl of candy, kick back, and try to scare the pants off of ourselves. In the spirit of the holiday, we've put together a list of some effective horror games that will chill, thrill, and fill you with dread. Most of you are probably familiar with the Alien: Isolations, the Amnesias, the Outlasts, and more of the horror giants that dominate the genre, so this list will be made up of some of the lesser-known titles that still manage to hold some surprises. Without further ado, here's your definitive list of interesting indie horror games presented in no particular order!
If there is one lesson that the movie Alien taught us it is that few things are as scary as average joes just trying to survive in space. Duskers takes that premise and runs with it in a gripping, survival horror roguelike. As a lone salvage operator using technology that would be right at home in a 70s sci-fi film, players must attempt to eek out a living by investigating wrecked ships. However, those ships can only be explored and salvaged using remote controlled drones. Players need to juggle the control of the drones with hacking into the wreck's systems and also avoiding the unknown terrors that lurk in the bowels of these seemingly abandoned vessels.
As it progresses a mystery slowly unfolds in the form of corrupted ship logs and strange environments. Meanwhile, dangers threaten to kill off the drones, the only tools available to sustain the player. Drones must be controlled by typing and hopping between them can be an absorbing task. The tension and learning curve created by the purposefully clunky retro interface lends itself to the horror - it really does feel like you're watching as your drones are taken out one by one with hope fading as each one goes offline.
Duskers is available on PC.
The Last Door
Are you a fan of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos? Do you have a soft sport for the works of Edgar Allen Poe? The Last Door draws upon both of those giants in the realm of literature to create its own rich contribution to the horror genre.
The Game Kitchen, the devs behind The Last Door, have actually created two seasons of this niche horror title, each consisting of four episodes. The first season follows the investigation of Jeremiah Devitt after he receives a letter from an old school friend and journeys to visit - only to find that an insidious force is at work and seems to be targeting his old associates. The second season serves as a direct sequel to the first, but to explain more would be to provide spoilers.
While The Last Door certainly possesses some shortcomings commonly associated with retro adventure games, the journey and surprising effectiveness of its growing sense of dread are well worth the effort to overcome the game design obstacles that occasionally rear their heads.
The Last Door Seasons 1 & 2 are available on Andorid, iOS, and PC, both as standalone collections and in-browser.
Lone Survivor released back in 2012 as a side-scrolling survival horror title. It attempts to walk the line between stealth and combat while painting a gruesome, engrossing world that constantly invites the player to question the sanity of the protagonist and the veracity of the world. The story centers on a nameless man in a surgical mask who must survive in a monster-filled apartment complex with no apparent logic to its construction. Players explore the world, encountering baffling characters and disturbing scenes.
The game isn't so much a tour de force journey as it is a lengthy soak in madness. Its atmosphere has a darkly hypnotic effect that beckons players into Lone Survivor's twisted depths. It can take a little while to feel the title's hooks, but give it a chance in good faith and Lone Survivor will reward persistence.
Lone Survivor is available on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and Wii U.
We've talked about OverBlood before. To be honest, it probably doesn't belong on this list because it simply isn't that scary by today's standards. What it lacks in spine-tingling thrills, OverBlood more than makes up for in sheer entertainment value as a so-bad-its-good game. Admittedly, people who enjoy playing games that are so bad they transcend badness and come back around to being worth playing represent a very, very niche group. But, if that's the kind of thing that you're looking for - the Troll 2 of video games - OverBlood definitely possesses the hapless charm necessary for a great night of failed scares and amazing character moments.
OverBlood tells the story of Raz Karcy, a man jettisoned from cryo containment only to find that he was never supposed to wake up. Mysteries unfold and friendships form as he begins to explore a seemingly abandoned research facility.
OverBlood is available on the PlayStation One and PSN.
While The Forest has been available for several years now, it is unique on this list in that it remains in Early Access on Steam. While many might be put off by the mere association of Early Access-ness, The Forest has both come a long way since its initial release and offers a unique horror experience.
Players take on the role of a man who survives a plane crash on a remote island only to find that his son has been kidnapped by the cannibals that inhabit the island's underground caves and come out to hunt at night. A pretty straightforward set up, right? Things get complicated by the fact that The Forest is an open world crafting/survival game at heart. Players will need to survive in the wilderness, construct a base of operations, and learn to survive the hair-raising night attacks by the island's blood thirsty humans. The result plays like a fusion between Outlast and Minecraft. In fact, it's entirely possible to succumb to the island's ways and become a cannibal yourself and abandon the central rescue mission.
I don't hear The Forest talked about much, but if you are put off by the fact that it remains in Early Access, keep an eye out for it to officially release sometime in the near future.
The Forest is currently available in Early Access on PC and will be coming to PlayStation 4.