Starting with this year, we’re going to offer a list of picks for the holiday season from individual staff members here at BentoByte. Since it’s October, that means we’re going to be doing horror — and to start, we’re going to be doing a two part list with picks from Adam Capps and Matthew Boss.
Each part will contain an individual list of picks from that author, and in part 1 you’ll be getting picks from me — Adam Capps. So without further ado, here are my picks for the games you should be playing to prepare for this Halloween.
9. State of Decay
State of Decay is one of the newest games on this list — and while it’s quite enjoyable as far as the zombie survival genre goes, it has its faults. Originally released last year on the Xbox 360 amid the hype from the then PC exclusive Day-Z, developers Undead Labs managed to create a tense and sprawling open world zombie survival game on a platform that was in dire need of one. With the PC being the primary destination for indie survival games, those with consoles seemed to be getting the short end of the stick.
In came State of Decay, a small title from an unknown developer. The game was released on June 5th, 2013 for the modest price of $19.99 and after playing the demo I was hooked. Unlike most zombie games you’ll find on consoles, the goal of State of Decay was to survive and expand your base of operations by gathering supplies. Oh, and of course you’ll also gather additional party members on the way — but don’t expect them to stick around forever, because if they die they’re gone for good.
There are a number of ways you can die in the game too, like most survival games you’ll have to keep you and your camp fed and the only way to do that is by scavenging around the area for food. You’ll undoubtedly run into zombies in the process, and while you might be able to take them on — you might be better off sneaking around or even surveying the area beforehand. Though the game is somewhat short, the area of play is rather large for what you’d expect from a $20 title — and you can even drive across it in vehicles!
I haven’t played the game in a while, but writing this list has reminded me that even though the game is short — I never actually beat it. Perhaps this year I’ll go back and change that. The game used to be exclusive to the Xbox 360, but now you can pick it up for PC via steam and there’s even a new definitive edition coming to Xbox One — but you won’t be playing that until sometime next year.
8. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
Immediately coming off of one of the newest games on this list, we have the oldest which dates all the way back to 1995 and runs on DOS. Developed by The Dreamers Guild and published by Cyberdreams, the game is based on the short story of the same name by author Harlan Ellison, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream tells the tale of the last five survivors of Earth as they live underground, terrorized by a computer capable of true artificial intelligence for the past 109 years.
Each of the five remaining humans has their own psychological flaws, and as a result the evil computer known as AM has created a game to manipulate them even further into madness. The game itself doesn’t directly follow the story, but divides the game into individual segments where you play as each of the humans and because the game is a traditional point and click adventure which was popular at the time — you’ll be solving puzzles and reading a lot.
The game also deals with some rather dark themes — all tied to the characters themselves, and if you’re looking for something a little more serious you might want to give this one a shot. You can pick it up on both GOG and Steam for the low price of $5.99.
7. Shadow Man
Developed by Acclaim and originally released in 1999 for PC and the Nintendo 64 with a late release on PlayStation and Dreamcast, Shadow Man is a bonafide cult classic. Based on the comic book series published by Valiant Comics, you play as Michael LeRoi as he becomes Shadow Man and unlocks the ability to travel between the world of the living and the world of the dead — Deadside.
Your job as Shadow Man is to stop Legion from ushering in the apocalypse by taking down the serial killers he’s recruited known as simply the Five. Along the way you’ll shoot down various monstrosities, solve puzzles and befriend a talking snake in a top hat by the name of Jaunty (who by the way has a really cool Irish accent).
If that doesn’t sound spooky, I don’t know what will.
6. The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge
Ah, The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge. Not many people seem to have heard about this one, and it’s a real shame. Looking back at the reviews, I can see why some might have missed out — it wasn’t exactly released to great praise. According to metacritic, the game sits at a less than ideal 65 — but the user score sits at 85.
Developed by Capcom and published by Buena Vista Games in North America and Japan, I think it goes without saying that you need to be a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas to really enjoy this one. As someone who for many years maintained that Tim Burton was his favorite director and still ranks The Nightmare Before Christmas among his top 10 films, you can tell that I might have a thing for this game.
Unfortunately I somehow managed to have lost my copy of the game, but I did manage to play it a few years back and I found it to be as good as it was when it came out. If there’s one thing I dislike about this game it isn’t the gameplay — it’s the lack of the original voice actors. Sure, you can’t expect them to be there — it’s a video game, but at the same time.. I felt that Kingdom Hearts did a much better job a few years earlier.
Interestingly enough, the story itself takes place after the original film which means if you’re looking for something to pick up where the film left off this might just be it as I highly doubt we’ll ever be seeing a true sequel. The truth is I could go on for ages about this game, there’s a lot to like about it — but if you can find a copy for yourself either to buy or to rent, I recommend giving it a try and deciding for yourself whether or not it’ll become one of your holiday staples.
5. Five Nights at Freddy’s
You might not think Five Nights at Freddy’s is particularly scary, especially if you’ve seen YouTubers like Markiplier play the game — but oh, it is. The first time I sat down to play the game was at my friend’s request after he had played it and man was I terrified.
Looking at the game it doesn’t look like there’s much to it — you simply sit in a control room and try to stay alive through the night at Freddy’s, a pizza place where the animatronics come to life when the sun goes down. Making use of the cameras strewn throughout the building you have to monitor the halls and watch for the characters. If you’re not careful, you might end up dead with an awfully frightening game over sequence.
This is a game about tension, playing and simple — and it has more than enough of it. Yes, there are jump scares, and I am rarely a fan of them — but in this case it works out really well. I played this game at night and I played this game during the day, both times I found myself too afraid to even let the game over screen come up.
Oh yeah, and you know what’s really crazy about it? The game is probably one of the most successful indie games of 2014, and it was all developed by one man — Scott Cawthon. If you’re interested in picking it up you can find it on Desura or Steam.
4. Nosferatu: Wrath of Malachi
This game goes all the way back to 2003, and even though it’s a bit dated the game still manages to work up a scare whenever I play it. Developed by Idol FX and published by iGames Publishing, Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi relies on a slightly different approach to provide scares — a randomly generated castle interior.
Yes, this game from 2003 which is based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula is never the same, but probably not like you’re accustomed to. Instead of randomly generating the entire castle, only the insides change and while that might not sound as interesting as a world that’s entirely randomly generated — it still has its moments.
The first section of the game is always the same, but once you get into the castle, that’s when things change. I remember on my first playthrough of the game I found a weapon, only to realize that it wasn’t there the second time around. Not only can you find weapons and powerups in different spots from game to game, but enemies too.
To make things even more tense, you have to save your family within an hour and a half. It might be a little dated, but even at 11 years old this game can still provide the scares. I might even go as far as to say that this game was far ahead of its time when it was originally released. Don’t care my word for it though — the game has a “Very Positive” rating on steam with a whopping 89% of reviews being positive. Not bad for a little Swedish developer.
3. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
We’re getting into top 3 territory here, and Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a game that is well deserving of its rank. As a fan of classic horror films and novels, I have always maintained that a little bit of ambiance goes a long way in the telling of a good story.
Developed by Headfirst Productions and published by Bethesda Softworks, Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a game that’s all about ambiance. From the town of Innsmouth to the residents within and of course the protagonist Jack Walters, you can tell how much effort was put into crafting this masterpiece.
There aren’t many games based around the Cthulhu Mythos crafted by legendary author H.P. Lovecraft, much less ones that are good — but Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a standout and in my opinion by far and away the best. If you’re a fan of H.P. Lovecraft and video games, you need to play this. It’s mandatory.
2. Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse
This one’s a bit out of the ordinary and I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t heard of it up until now. Developed by Wideload Games and published by Aspyr, this quirky zombie game puts you on the other side of the fence. No longer are you the human on a quest to get away from the zombies, you’re now the zombie on a quest to transform the humans.
The weapons in your arsenal on this quest include your body and the organs within. Yes, it’s that crazy. You can literally throw your organs at the enemy which function as a grenade and if that’s not enough you can also use your hand and your head. The hand detaches from your body and allows you to walk on walls and take control of enemies, while the head can be rolled into the enemy like a bowling ball and detonated.
It’s a blast, and if there were any game on this list that deserves a sequel it would be this one. Not only is the gameplay good (oh yeah, and there’s local multiplayer), but the game also has a phenomenal soundtrack. If you’ve read my work before then you know just how much I appreciate music. How does Death Cab for Cutie covering Earth Angel sound? Pretty good, right?
Unfortunately the PC port doesn’t fare well with newer technology and the Xbox version isn’t available for purchase on the marketplace anymore which means if you want to play this you’ll have to track down a physical copy somewhere. Expect to pay a premium of anywhere from $40-60. That’s a lot when you consider the game is 9 years old as of October 18. Happy birthday, Stubbs.
I know what you’re thinking, why is Minecraft on this list and why is it in the top spot? Well you’re definitely right to question such a thing, but it’s pretty well deserved. Sure, Minecraft isn’t a horror game — but it still scares me, even having been playing the game since Alpha.
Most people don’t think horror when they think Minecraft, but the world of Minecraft is terrifying when the sun fades away. Zombies, skeletons, spiders, creepers and now even endermen begin to popular the map and there is nothing scarier than putting hours of work into building a house only to have it completely obliterated by a creeper.
Hell — even walking out of the door leaves me terrified because you never know if there’s a creeper waiting to greet you, and that’s during the day. Say what you will, but I still shriek when I see a creeper or a horde of monsters cross my path while I’m mining. Oh yeah, and the game even has pumpkins, Jack-O-Lanterns and now pumpkin pie. Totally Halloween material.