October 26, 2016

You have to play these horror games of 2016 this Halloween

If you’re not into Trick-or-Treat-ing because it’s just not scary enough and horror movies because you’re just not in it enough, then you probably belong to the millions who sit in that comfortable spot between both: a delightfully horrifying interactive Halloween experience. We compiled a list of the best horror games you can play this Halloween season to get you started.

We Happy Few

Developers: Compulsion Games

Engine: Unreal Engine 4

Platforms: PC, Xbox One

We Happy Few is an independent single-player survival horror game available via Steam Early Access, which means the game is in a demo-type situation and isn’t fully available yet.

We Happy Few is set a dystopian alternate timeline of England where it’s occupied by the Nazis in October 1964, in a city called Wellington Wells. Its citizens are required to take a psychedelic drug called “Joy” to keep them “happy” and pacify the populace. In the game, the player finds out that aside from pacifying the populace to make them easier to rule, the drug is used to make the people forget an atrocity they have committed hinted at throughout the game.

You play the protagonist, who one day decides not to take the drug and become lucid, labeling you a “Downer” by the city’s disturbingly face-painted, perpetually-smiling citizens. Of course, the others are none too pleased about and try to take you down.  Your goal? Avoid everyone including the city’s surveillance systems by sneaking around, keep their suspicion off you as you try to escape, and survive. Not doing so will mean a grisly demise for your character and you have to start all over again. As in from the beginning, which raises the stakes of the game a little.

What’s unique about the game is that the world and its inhabitants are procedurally generated, meaning no two players will have the same experiences in the gameplay.

Layers of Fear

Developer: Bloober Team

Engine: Unity

Platforms: Linux, PC, OS X, PS4, Xbox One

Release: 16 February 2016

Layers of Fear is a first-person psychological horror game about a painter obsessed with painting a masterpiece. You play the painter, an increasingly unreliable narrator who descends deeper into his madness, warping your perception of the world around you. The world really is just a big old house, but in a way that seems alive, with its constantly changing pathways, rearranging rooms, moving furniture, and paintings that transform into horrific versions of their original contents.

Your goal is to complete a painting that you see at the beginning of the game, by collecting various items all over the house. The items are odd things that you can use to paint, like horse tail hair (at least that’s what he said), probably human skin, and ground human bone.

As you play, you discover hints of the painter’s past from his mad ravings and items found, uncovering the atrocities that happened in the house, which is also the painter’s residence. Barring your quest are mysterious horrifying characters who maybe your former housemates, who also may or may not be figments of your character’s imagination. And of course, there’s the house itself.

BioShock: The Collection

Developer: Blind Squirrel Games

Publisher: 2K Games

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Release: 15-16 September 2016

This year, 2K Games released Bioshock: The Collection, a 2-disc remastered version of their Bioshock video game series: Bioshock, Bioshock 2, and Bioshock Infinite. What’s that? You haven’t played any of the Bioshock games? Ever? Well, this Halloween is the perfect time to dive (see what I did there?) into the game series.

This improved version of the game series lets you play the game in full 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second in all platforms. The collection not only includes the three Bioshock games, but also their single-player content originally released as exclusives or downloadable content (DLC) packs, Bioshock 2’s Minderva’s Den and Bioshock Infinite’s Burial at Sea. It also includes a port of the PC version of Bioshock Infinite if you want to play it on your console. However, the multiplayer component of Bioshock 2 is not included.

It also contains the challenge game modes from all three Bioshock games, and the Museum of Orphaned Concepts, a feature from an earlier collection of Bioshock games in which players can view an in-game gallery of abandoned development concepts. Added with gaming content is a director’s commentary called Imagining Bioshock featuring creator director Ken Levine and lead artist Shawn Robertson. You can unlock episodes of the commentary by finding new collectible objects that have been added to Bioshock.

The game is set during 1960, in an abandoned underwater city called Rapture. It used to be a utopian city created by business tycoon Andrew Ryan where people can live out of the shadow of the government. In the game’s present timeline, you play as Jack, who stumbles upon the now dystopian Rapture. Your mission is to survive and protect your family from elements who want to eliminate you as you try to escape the city. The game is famous for its twisted genetically modified characters, putting the player in morally ambiguous decisions, and a hell of a lot of jump scares. It’s more of adventure survival horror that will keep you busy throughout Halloween.

Through the Woods

Developer: Antagonist
Platform: PC
Release Date: October 27 2016

Through the Woods is an atmospheric third-person psychological horror game set on the Western coast of Norway where you play a mother looking for her missing son. It’s pretty much heavy on Norse mythology and Norwegian folklore with a unique narrative. The game takes you through the mother’s retelling of the story of her son’s disappearance to an unnamed interviewer. The interrogation covering the mother’s tale is never seen, only heard in the background as a voice over guiding you through the dark Norwegian wilderness, as all of the action has already happened.

The game developers attempt to capture the forest as they saw it as children, “with all the frightening and mysterious feelings of roaming the woods alone.” Through the Woods is very atmospheric, giving the player a sense of foreboding that speaks to that unsettling primal instinct of fearing the wild unknown.

The trailer isn’t that much of a horror fest and only gives you a vibe of the game. If you really want to gauge how Through the Woods feels during gameplay, you can check out this demo video of Through The Woods. You can download a free demo of the game at their kickstarter page.

Outlast 2

Developer: Red Barrels Studio
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac
Engine: Unreal Engine 3
Full Release Date: Q1 2017

The sequel to the highly successful first-person survival horror game Outlast, the game follows journalists (again? Does Outlast hate journalists or love ‘em?) Blake and Lynn Langermann who are investigating the murder of a pregnant woman named Jane Doe in the middle of the Arizona desert. The game was originally slated for release later this year but was delayed to next year, but you can play with a free demo until November 1st on Xbox One, PS4, and Steam.

Outlast was such a popular game and a favorite among many modern horror game fans, that even the demo version of Outlast 2 was one of the most played demos recently. And like the first one, Outlast 2 combines elements of the found footage film genre with survival horror.

The nice thing about Outlast 2 is you don’t need to play the first one to get into it. Unlike the first one, however, the abandoned asylum setting is replaced by the creepy wooded farmlands of Arizona, USA. And as is common in the Southern parts of the USA, it has some heavy religious motifs.

The Outlast 2 demo is a quality horror experience that promises a lot of frights without spending a dollar this Halloween, all while waiting for the full version of the game early next year. Can’t wait for the full Outlast 2? Try the first Outlast anyway!

If we missed any good horror games of 2016 that are worth playing this Halloween, let us know in the comments!