Orange leaves are drifting off the trees outside and the air is pregnant with the crisp, foreboding presence of All Hallows' Eve.
There will be pranks, there will be treats, there will be screams and scares and busy streets. For gamers there will be much of the same but also murder, mayhem, horror, and guts mixed with gory glory.
This year we've come to remind you to carve out a part of the day (preferably the evening) to play one of the following five games to maximize your frightening and freaky Halloween.
#5 Costume Quest
Let's start out with something fun and safe for all audiences including the kids. This downloadable gem has been out for a few years but you might have easily missed it in the holiday hustle.
Costume Quest comes from Double Fine, Tim Schafer's former company. Double Fine games always have a unique personality that could never fall into the “generic” syndrome that many downloadable titles can. Furthermore the game was headed by a former animator at Pixar, so you know it's gonna be great for the kids. But it isn't just for kids. I got this game with my PSPlus subscription and found myself enjoying it from a nostalgic standpoint.
Not only is it a classically styled adventure, but the story revolving around two siblings encountering serious neighborhood trouble on Halloween will bring back all those great memories of trick or treating with family and friends. The art style is unique always pleasing while the gameplay is light and breezy. All ages should give this one a go, maybe before the sun goes down and then you can break out the truly scary stuff.
#4 Lollipop Chainsaw
Cheerleader? Check. Zombies? Check. Tons of classic horror movie references? Check. Lollipop Chainsaw is a love letter from that crazed lunatic Suda51 to anybody with a love of horror and a sense of humor. If you ever saw a B-horror movie and loved it then LPC should be right up your alley. Join cheerleader Juliette Starling and battle a zombie invasion of her high school on her 18th birthday (which makes all the sexual innuendo perfectly appropriate mind you) for one of the wildest rides of the generation.
While cutting through the hoards of zombies that alternately spout gouts of blood and bright pink… sparkly stuff… with a chainsaw you can also play dress up, collect hilarious phone calls, and use your boyfriend's severed head to turn bodies into helpful dance machines. Beware the bosses though, they are the most imaginative bad guys you will encounter no matter what you're doing later on Halloween night.
Yeah it's about the craziest game I've ever played and as a child of 80's slasher flicks and tongue-in-cheek humor I can give you two severed thumbs up.
#3 Metro: Last Light
I definitely wanted an FPS game in here because nothing makes the terror more personal than a direct perspective. One of the voices in my head said to argue for FEAR 3. Yeah I know it got some flack for being more mainstream but there was still a lot of supernatural greatness. Another voice said Dishonored is the one because you wear a wicked mask and slink in the shadows. The final voice was right though, Metro: Last Light was an utterly unique and totally freaky experience from start to finish.
Whether you are a fan of the stealth approach or you want to go in guns blazing Metro is one of those rare games where the impact of the horror won't be lost no matter which route you choose. You play as the ranger Artyom, who is on a mission to destroy the mysterious Dark One, the last of his race. In the metro tunnels beneath Russia or the chaotic radiation-soaked planet above you'll battle Nazis, Communists, and ungodly mutants in the most horrifying atmospheres ever developed. The game haunts a middle ground between FPS and survival while you learn how your actions will determine the fate of the remains of humanity. This one made my want to check behind me every now and then.
#2 Silent Hill: Downpour
Unless you are a die hard Silent Hill fan like me you might have actually missed this game due to some lukewarm reviews. Sadly nobody buys games that score under an 8 these days, but there are a few things I think people need to know about Downpour and why it should be in their Halloween queue.
As Murphy Pendleton you'll find yourself in Silent Hill when a prison bus transporting you has a mishap outside the legendary town. You'll be pursued by Officer Anne Cunningham, who seems to have a personal vendetta against you. She finds it more difficult to do her job when the Other World descends on the both of them.
One of the best things going for the title is that it doesn't abandon survival/horror for action. I feel like I must caution against playing on a high difficulty, not because you aren't survivor material but because some of the glitches in the game that hurt those reviews happened when too many enemies got on screen. However, what a lot of folks don't know is that a very long time after everyone was done playing the game, many of the problems were resolved with a patch so you can have some more confidence going in now.
What's great about it? It's classic Silent Hill. The atmosphere of the locations (which include some great new areas on the outskirts of town) are some of the best ever for the series. Don't just do the campaign though, feel free to wander the streets and go solving the many side quests. Getting into new locations and investigating the mysteries of Silent Hill is reward enough. The implementation of creative ideas is expert. For instance two of my favorite areas are accessed by splicing film together and stepping into the movie, and using old theater equipment to activate a stage play that you become a part of. It is gripping and full of all the horrific imagery we have come to expect from the series. Also there are some cool new additions like the ability to peek back over your shoulder to see what's behind you, and to open doors slowly (and so peek into rooms) to avoid unfortunate run-ins. It also features some of the best graphics in the series to date.
Murphy's story itself is a great vehicle for the horrors he will encounter. A lot of fans still say James Sunderland's story from Silent Hill 2 was the best, but I think the deep psychological mess that is Murphy Pendleton is a strong rival. If you want to be ensconced in hopeless fear for your life while wave after wave of unspeakable horrors and terrifying environments haunt you then you want to play this game this Halloween. Just make sure you get inside when it starts to rain.
An early PS3 exclusive, this mystery/action/RPG was tailor made for Halloween. It follows Ellen and Keats, two people drawn to the enigmatic village of Doolin where the living can meet the dead. Once you reach the spooky location you'll alternate characters to investigate the mystery of what happened in this foggy corner of the earth 17 years ago. To unravel the enigma you'll ally with some of the best designed ghouls I've ever seen in a game. Whether you are fulfilling requests from creatures that stay up late at the pub or capturing the souls of erratic folks to unleash them on your enemies, once you enter the fairy realms you'll never want to stop trapping the population in your cloak and using them to your advantage.
This ain't Pokemon, there's no caring for the folks whose souls you rip out. Just beat them down, tear out their essence with a little flick of the sixaxis and then assign their unique attack or defense to a button. Along with the fun gameplay there is also an excellent storytelling apparatus in the 2.5D storyboards which are both dramatic and artistic. Since it is Halloween there is plenty of dress up to do; different cloaks with varying effects are available for Ellen to sport as you unlock them by conquering new levels in the fairy world.
The game starts on Halloween, of course, and that's when you should start playing it because the whole aura fits this time of year like a glove. So too do the backdrops, all glittering with magic, mysticism and the like. As with most Japanese games you can expect some excellent boss designs as well. Is it an action game? Is it a JRPG? Is it horror? All I know is I promise you've never played anything quite like it.
Okay kids there's your list, now go get one or all of these and start playing away. Trust me, the games you play around certain times of the year play a big role in the good times you'll have and the memories you'll make.
If you survive the night.