It’s the start of autumn; leaves are changing color and falling about, everything is pumpkin spice, and sweater weather is in the air. You know what that means, right? It is time for the Halloween season and the occasion to find each and every outlet for beautiful and twisted scares.
Gamers are no stranger to the horror genre; there seems to be a handful of great digital terror each and every year. The thing about it is, this facet of video games has taken a bit of a turn in recent years. Yes, the big triple A frightfuls churn out a big horror hit hear and there. Is there need to mention Until Dawn and the trip to Silent Hills that almost was again? Yet, the real, overflowing source for good horror on the console comes from smaller, more independent development teams.
Here you have the 5 best examples of good, gritty, and sometimes gory indie horror to keep you looking over your shoulder this Halloween.
WHO MADE THE CUT?
5. Knock Knock
This Kickstarted masterwork from Ice-Pick Lodge studios runs as a man vs. time cycle. You find yourself in a cabin and must survive, avoiding the beings that lurk about until morning when you can sort out the events you have endured. With such a simple premise and complexity hidden in the details, it is the burst of adrenaline as you move about that gets you. Think of it like a deranged version of Pac Man, and not the twisted anxiety pill theory version either. This atop the always eerie jagged layered art style is enough to make you cringe as you move about.
Perhaps the creepiest part of Knock Knock is the story surrounding its conception. Legend has it that the studio received a mysterious email back in November of 2011 taunting and challenging them to make the game. This email had 19 files attached in a folder titled “letsplay.” The mixture of scribbled notes and audio files can be dug up online and add to the atmosphere through history.
4. Slender: the Arrival
It just isn’t a conversation about scary, indie games if the Slender Man does not get brought up at least once. PlayStation was graced with the ever present, faceless lore to its grandest in Slender: the Arrival. This tale of the ancient myth sets you as the protagonist, Lauren, digging into some mysterious disappearances and events plaguing the quiet and relaxing Oakside Park. It dose not take long before you find yourself helplessly fleeing the Slender Man.
Brought to you from Blue Isle Studios, the creators of the infamous Slender: the Eight Pages classic, this game feels much like the original. Only, enhanced upon, grown, developed, and even more frightening. Gameplay in the Arrival is very similar to the Eight Pages. You cannot attack, having only a flashlight and limited defenses. Aside from the moments of looming terror, it is the ever-present anticipation that will drive you truly mad with this one.
TOO CLOSE TO THE MODERN FEAR
Waking up almost a century after an experimental brain operation, you find yourself in the decrepit remains of the underwater hideout PATHOS-2. Here, you discover the horrific, tattered remains of life in the form of sentient technology. As Simon, you have to use stealth to survive and escape this mechanical hell. From Frictional Games, creators of Amnesia, you can feel the urgency of every move and each decision you make.
The real horror comes at the end of the game. Avoiding spoilers, the game takes a philosophical twist that leaves you plagued with questions for lurking in the back of your mind. What is it to be alive? What is it to die? If I think, does it real mean therefore I am?
After regaining consciousness in an abandoned hospital, the protagonist Sarah must keep moving forward in hopes of gaining freedom from this nightmare she is locked in. As you move about you have to collect items in order to unlock the next part of the building and continue. The trick here is that each item you collect carves another mark into your arm. The more marks you have, the more terrorizing shadow creatures can find you. You have no modes of defense but to run and loose these things as they arise.
Daylight comes from indie horror powerhouse Zombie Studios. The fear comes from the quiet, subtle atmosphere lit only by the dull glow of a dying cellphone. No matter how much you run, there is always something else hunting you, and in order to progress you have to not only survive greater enemies, but consciously call more of them too you. Run as you may, run as you might, head this advice and never look back.
A BLOODY TRIP TO THE ASYLUM
As Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist, you are sent out to the abandoned Mount Massive Asylum for a story. Disregarding warning from a bloody and beaten officer, you enter to find the place overrun with deranged and sadistic patients running free. Once again, you are left defenseless as you move about the asylum torn between getting the story you desperately need and keeping your own life. Not to mention the torrents of blood and gore. Ah, the blood and gore.
This example of masterpiece horror from the Canadian developers Red Barrels blurs the line between indie and triples A, big budget games. The hyperrealism of Outlast reads more like a found-footage style movie, and feels all the more real for it. Plus, the Whistleblower DLC may be as good as the game itself. What adds to the horror of Outlast is that you are not facing ghost and ghouls, demons, or conscious machines. The monsters running about Mount Massive are the reflections of the monsters that can be made of ordinary man.
Do not fleet away this holiday of fear and terror by wasting your time trudging through grinders and breaking the bank. Boot up your PlayStation and build up your nerves before throwing yourself head first into these under the radar horror hits. Then, let the blood curdle and your throat grow soar. Just remember, screaming only tells the beast where you are.