With Halloween just around the corner, what’s better than dimming the lights and immersing yourself in some good old-fashioned, interactive terror? We list five single player horror games suitable for any Halloween night in, so read on and tell yourself that noise you just heard was all in your head.
1: Alien Isolation
The famous sci-fi horror series Alien has not had a great outing in games over the years, with Alien: Colonial Marines nearly killing the video game side of the franchise once and for all. However in 2014 Creative Assembly gave us Alien Isolation and brought back some glory to the brand.
Isolation is exactly what you’d want from a survival horror game set in the Alien universe. Set fifteen years after the infamous Nostromo incident from the original film, you play Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley, stranded on the Sevastopol space station whilst on a mission to search for clues to the Nostromo’s disappearance. All is not what it seems when you set foot on the station, you find a scene of anarchy and terror as a pissed off Xenomorph is prowling the halls and decks.
There are a number of missions and objectives to see you through the game but the main goal is simply to stay alive. The Xeno relentlessly stalks you, it’s smart, ruthless and genuinely terrifying when it finds you (and it will). There is little to no combat, you can’t kill the Xeno you can only scare it off for a brief moment before it comes back even more enraged and ready to end you than it was before.
The atmosphere and sound design make for a truly horrifying experience, we dare you to play through this once without jumping, screaming or just swearing off video games forever.
Fear Factor – 7/10
2. Condemned: Criminal Origins
Way back in 2005 Monolith Productions introduced us to an unnerving new IP with it’s first-person, psychological horror title. Armed with a grainy low budget film visual style, bleak colour palette and foreboding atmosphere and jump scares aplenty, Condemned set about browning many trousers.
The twisted plot is set in fictional Metro City and follows CSI agent Ethan Thomas working with the FBI’s serial crime unit tracking down a serial killer simply known as X. During the hunt You’re tasked with using your wits, investigational tools and some technology to track down and confront X.
Condemned messes with your head, anyone who’s played it will tell you that the department store mannequins sequence is one of the most chilling in video games. You square off against multiple lunatics baying for blood as you pick your way through the seedy levels. The slow burn of the plot keeps you on edge and launches you into sheer terror when you least expect it.
Fear Factor 6/10
Keeping in the vein of Condemned, first person, investigation based survival game Outlast hit the scene in 2013 and proceeded to scare the hell out everyone. There is no combat whatsoever in Outlast, you are armed only with a camera with night vision and not enough batteries to power it.
You play a reporter assigned to check out a recently closed mental asylum, only it’s not quite as abandoned as you expected. A lot of the inmates are still very much active within whilst you gather evidence on a grim scandal being covered up by the institution’s corrupt overlords. A number of those inmates will not bother you. they’ll creep the bejesus out of you but they won’t engage with you. The ones who will come for you are huge, behemoths that will savagely beat you to death.
Most of the game is spent running, hiding and crying. You can only see in the dark via the night vision on your camera and you never know what’s around the next corner. The suspense is incredibly heavy and overwhelming leading to panicked decisions and a large amount of running in sheer terror.
I can honestly say that Outlast is one of the most intense and nerve-shredding games I have ever played. It spawned a DLC add-on “Whistleblower” and a sequel Outlast II which was banned in Australia.
Fear Factor 8/10
Rockstar’s foray into the survival horror genre in 2003 was met with both delight and controversy with Manhunt. A gritty, incredibly dark and intense survival game from the brilliant minds behind the Grand Theft Auto series.
Manhunt pits you as a convict spared the death penalty only to find himself in a twisted, reality show for a mail order snuff service. Gangs and junkies have been stationed between you and your goal, they will kill on sight so you need to use stealth. Sneak up on this punks and take them out in all manners of grizzly ways, suffocation with plastic bags, glass shards to the neck or bricks to the head to name a few.
Being a Rockstar production Manhunt pulled no punches and caused a stir due to its violence and caused problems for the sequel that was a watered-down version of the first. Manhunt had one of the thickest atmospheres I have ever encountered and made for some truly suspenseful moments and used horror in a different type of way.
Fear Factor 6/10
5. Silent Hill
The original Silent Hill in 1999 launched a whole new level of survival horror on console. The claustrophobic third person scare-fest brought players to the two of Silent Hill and remained in their nightmares for years to come as it spawned a long-running series.
Playing as Harry Mason on a trip with his daughter who stumbles across the fog-laden town of Silent Hill after coming off the road. You lose your daughter whilst knocked out from the crash and set off into the fog to find her. Along the way, all kinds of unimaginable horrors crawl out of the dark to hinder your efforts. These include the iconic puppets nurses (making the most chilling murmuring noises), Gray Children, Split Heads and Screamers.
Silent Hill was a successful fright not only because if it’s outlandish and horrifying creations but for it’s suffocating fog and darkness concealing all kinds of terror. It may be eighteen years old now but this gem set itself up to terrorise generations to come and quickly established itself as a survival horror icon.
Fear Factor 8/10
And that concludes our rundown of five of the scariest single player games to fill your Halloween night with. Honorable mentions for F.E.A.R, Outlast 2, Layers of Fear, Fatal Frame and Deadly Premonition.
Do you agree with this list, have your own top five? Let us know in the comments below!