It’s Halloween night, making the only relevant topic to tackle our absolute favourite ghoulish games! Whether outright horrors or titles with just a tingle of terror, here are the experiences that Team PTC love to scare themselves silly with.
Chris | Resident Evil
When it comes to horror games, one sticks in my mind like no other. I'm of the opinion that the Resident Evil franchise fell off with some of the later entries - not counting the latest, RE7, which I’m too scared to even consider playing - as the focus switched from survival horror to action. That being said, it's still a phenomenal series if one pretends that RE4 (sorry Sam) through 6 don't exist, in much the same way that actual humans pretend pineapples don't exist when ordering pizza (again, sorry Sam).
Resident Evil had a delicate balance of suspense and action, but I most fondly remember the atmosphere. The old Spencer Mansion was creepy enough in itself, though numerous diary entries and notes added to that by telling their own short, self-contained stories. I may have mentioned before that ten-year-old me found the Keeper's Diary, which journals one man's slow transformation into a zombie, to be particularly chilling.
The first time I heard the hauntingly beautiful Moonlight Sonata was thanks to Jill Valentine playing the piano. It not only kicked off my lifelong love affair with music, but fit the game so perfectly that every time I hear the opening I'm brought back to that very scene, which stands out even in a game full of iconic moments.
Liam | Call of Duty: World at War
Of all the genres, horror is my least favourite. No matter the medium - books, film, TV, games - the idea of purposefully putting myself through an experience designed to terrify and traumatise is one that’s never appealed.
Still, while the pool of scary games I can draw upon for this Halloween-themed Team Talk may be small, there was a time when I threw caution (and sleepless nights) to the wind by braving the horrifying delights of Zombies in Call of Duty: World at War; specifically the Der Riese map, which I played with my big bro. You know, for protection.
For me, Der Riese is the pinnacle of Zombies mode, striking a perfect balance between survival, exploration and tactical play, with just enough lore and humour added in to keep things interesting.
Some of my best gaming memories were forged on that map, from frantically hacking through hordes to reach a much-needed Max Ammo power-up, teasing the last legless zombie whilst my brother and I took turns on the Pack-a-Punch Machine, or grabbing the bowie knife for a desperate final stand when the end was nigh.
Eventually we became so familiar with our routine that no communication was needed, which is a handy trick when your router’s NAT prevents voice chat. Come to think of it, strict NAT may be the real horror story here...
James | BioShock
While not what you might traditionally think of as a 'horror' title, BioShock holds a special, twisted place in my heart as the record-holder for the game it's taken me the longest time to complete from start to finish.
Though I suffered a similar problem with the likes of Resident Evil (which, due to all them spooks, I resorted to watching playthroughs of on YouTube instead of finishing for myself), BioShock was unique in that I’d give it a try, make some progress, then get too scared to carry on.
The result was a cyclical playthrough that literally lasted years - far past any reasonable time frame for a linear first-person action title.
If you know anything about BioShock, you'll know the ending is somewhat of an oddity; not only is there an unexpected twist, but the game itself almost has two finales. Despite my trepidation, I gathered all the upgrades I could get my Plasmid-infused hands on and finally powered through both in one sitting.
The elation was palpable and I could finally see why people always went on about this game, which - until that point - had been very good but not as life-changing as rhetoric would have me believe.
There are no doubt scarier games, but this one remains my favourite because of how hard it made me work for it, without ever becoming laborious.
Rob | Shadow Man
Much like last week’s sequel dilemma, yours truly had so many ghastly games to pick from for this Halloween edition of Team Talk, it hurt.
I could easily have picked the original Doom, or any of the Resident Evil titles, but I’ve decided instead to revisit a world full of infamous serial killers, voodoo, souls and a well-humoured Irish snake named Jaunty…
Acclaim released Shadow Man in 1999, complete with industry-leading audiovisuals and a map of incredible scale for the time. Based on the Shadowman comic book series, the game places you in the shoes of Mike LeRoi, a man with the ability to walk between the realms of ‘Liveside’ (the world as we know it) and ‘Deadside’ (a world full of murderous creatures and fiends).
Shadow Man had so many great moments, it’s impossible to list them all here! From the opening scenes featuring Jack the Ripper and big-bad-boss Legion (you’ll hear the sound bite: “For we are many!” a lot); to watching Mike’s brother die because of his poor choices; to your first view of the Asylum. Throughout the entire quest to find all 120 Dark Souls (hey, that’s a game), Shadow Man remains suitably grim.
Throw into the mix an excellent blend of Zelda, Metroid and Tomb Raider-style gameplay mechanics and you have a game that’s just as playable today as it was back in ‘99.
What's your favourite horror game? Have you made time to revisit it this Halloween? Let us know in the comments below.
Last week we discussed which unannounced sequels we'd kill for.