Once again, that wonderful time of year is upon us. The celebration of the harvest mixes with the festival of the dead, culminating in the beauty of modern Halloween. Once the makeup has finished running and you are sick to your stomach from candy corn comes the real joy of the season; sitting around with friends doing each and everything in your arsenal of self motivation and entertainment media to scare one another out of your bleeding skulls.
Now, obviously, you are looking for a way to mix your group festivities with a passion for video games. This is no easy task, given that most horror games are designed to play off atmosphere more than anything, including the one that you set for yourself at home. Curled up in a deadly quiet room with nothing but the dull blue hue from the flickering TV cutting through the chocking pitch black all by yourself as the blood curdling jump scare of a suddenly nearby scream erupts. Now, that is the good stuff. But, how are you supposed to mix group fun into all of that? Good thing you asked, because here you have a few ways to turn your late night horror fest into a real company affair.
IT IS TOO DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. That would be making use of the co-op modes hidden within some of these horror masterpieces. You can take turns battling it out side by side or against one another for leaderboard supremacy. If you want to make sure that you keep that horror atmosphere encompassing the group, you can find these deathmatch and capture the flag style co-ops in The Last of Us.
If a shooter is not exactly scratching that festering itch, then turn your gaze towards Dying Light. The co-op modes available here include races through the zombie hoarded town. There is also an asymmetrical mode where one individual can take on the role of Night Hunter, an overpowered zombie, themself. From here, you can viciously tear your cohorts to pieces in the digital-scape. There are hidden little gems of cooperative horror play tucked away in many of the edge-riding hits we know and love.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
Every self-respecting horror fan has memories of clamoring with friends around a TV deep into the night, catching a late run of some B-rated slasher flick. Am I right or am I right? Given those nostalgia spewing memories, there is no reason you can’t treat a well crafted video game as such. Let there be no mistake that video games are not by any means a lesser medium when it comes to narratives. Take these wondrously tragic tales and use them to convey stories to one another. The only difference is that one member of the party is taking the role of the director.
You can take the old-school jump scares on current gen consoles with games like Resident Evil: Revelations. Sitting close and comfy on the couch, watching the web of Umbrella Corp. terror unravel on screen. No, we are not talking about the Milla Jovovich movies either. It can turn into a great evening of jump scares and people screaming, “don’t go in the room!” so loud it will wake your neighbors.
This can also be twisted to fit different tones of the evening. If you want a little more blatant and mindless gore, give The Evil Within a twirl. Watch the blood splatter around as you limp about, adrenaline pumping at the edge of your seat, from the horror that is The Keeper. But maybe some people aren’t quite gore-fiends, and for some reason you choose to stay friends with them. If that is the case, you can always make use of the more comical and cartoon, yet still devilishly creepy horror games like Knock Knock. This very simple, ghostly play on Pac Man looks innocent on the surface, but provides quite a little chill.
MAKE A GAME OUT OF A GAME… GAMECEPTION
A final, vastly underutilized, method for making party fun out of a solo frightfest is to make a separate, physical game out of the experiences of the digital landscape. What could this possibly mean? Well, you take some aspect of the game and turn it so that it involves the group. Most recent success for this can be found in the sleeper horror hit Until Dawn. For those who have not played this one, which is impossible to imagine how, the basis of the game is making decisions; all through out the game, choices are provided and you have to choose between 2 different things to do. Implementing use of the butterfly effect, what seem like small decisions at the time cause massive changes in the future.
If you want to take Until Dawn and make it a group affair, there is a variety of ways to go about this. For example, take turns going around the group as to who makes a decision to see how it impacts the game. There is also the option of pulling names out of a hat for who gets to choose and play until the next option arises. Perhaps the most engaging of a gathering is to assign a charter to each person. That person is then responsible for all of the character’s choices and gameplay. Think of it like taking a video game and turning it into a tabletop RPG without the hassle of loosing the dice with every roll.
There is always a manor in which to take a game past its design. And never is this more important than when it comes to making a passion of yours accessible to good times with friends. Pick out a few scare filled horror classics and call your closest friends over, because it is time to make horror games a party event.