Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween gaming is the very best kind of gaming


Halloween is less than two weeks away, yet for some reason (presidential debates, perhaps), the Halloween spirit seems to be in short supply.  After quaffing a few bottles of pumpkin pie flavored vodka and watching my favorite Halloween movies, I decided it was time to scratch my Halloween gaming itch.

Wait - you might ask - Halloween gaming is a thing now?  Admittedly, interrupting reader, it is not.  There are relatively few true "Halloween games" that exist on the market, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun while scaring yourself stupid with a scary game perfect for Halloween.

Check out the list below if you're looking for a new, low-investment game to play (a few of the ones below are even free), grab a six pack of pumpkin beer, and let the magic of October wash over you.

The Mirror Lied

While certainly the shortest game on the list, The Mirror Lied is also perhaps the creepiest. Distributed by Freebird Games, The Mirror Lied picks up in the middle of a story that you'll only *just* begin to comprehend when the game ends.

In this indie horror game, you play as a silent, faceless protagonista alone in an abandoned house who needs to figure out who she is, what's going on, and - more importantly - how to get out.  The best part about The Mirror Lied is that it's not a cheesy horror game.  In fact, if you're not patient enough to invest in the story and atmosphere of The Mirror Lied, it won't be scary at all.  If you do choose to sit down and really focus on it, however...

Platforms: PC
Cost: Free
Download Via: Freebird Games

Costume Quest

Costume Quest comes from Tim Schafer's Double Fine Productions, and is a stirling example of everything that a Halloween game should be.  This game does an excellent job of capturing the excitement and nostalgia of Halloween night seen through the eyes of a child... and mixes in an alien abduction story along with adventure game mechanics to boot.

At its core, Costume Quest is a cute turn-based RPG that relies heavily on reaction time events to keep combat interesting.  Being a Double Fine game, however, Costume Quest features great humour and writing while never taking itself too seriously.  As an added bonus, the PC version comes with the Christmas-themed DLC pack Grubbins on Ice which explains its higher price.

Platforms: PS3, XBox, PC
Cost: $9.99 (PS3), $14.99 (PC*), 1,200 MSP (Xbox)
Best Purchased via: PSN, XBLA, or Steam

Slender

It's a game based on a meme, how scary can it be?  Quite scary indeed, as it turns out. Similar to The Mirror Lied, Slender relies on a stark, minimalist environment and the element of foreboding to scare the sleep out of you.

Slender, however, isn't shy about its antagonist: the goal of the game is to gather eight notes scattered about the game world and avoid seeing the Slender Man.  See him too many times, and your sanity will drain faster than the batteries on your flashlight.

Platforms: PC, Mac
Cost: Free
Download via: Parsec Productions

Corpse Party

By far the goriest game in today's post, Corpse Party is a choose-your-own adventure style Japanese Horror game mixed with a bit of survival horror for good measure.

In Corpse Party, you play as a group of ill-fated high school students who run afoul of the relentless and violent spirit of a murdered girl who's past the point of wanting vengeance and just wants a little bloodshed instead. In the span of your 16-bit investigation of the school, you try to solve the mystery of the girl's murder and survive with your sanity - and friends - in tact.  If you're a fan of J-horror or cheesy anime tropes, and you happen to own a PSP, Corpse Party will not disappoint.

Platforms: PSP
Cost: $19.99
Best  purchased via: The PlayStation Network

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir

Spirit Camera is a spin-off of the popular (and grizzly) Fatal Frame franchise, adapted as an augmented reality horror romp for the 3DS.  Easily the most expensive game on this list, Spirit Camera will have you wheeling about your living room as you hunt down ghosts that you accidentally released from the Diary of Faces.

When a ghost appears, you must snap a picture of it before it vanishes and hides elsewhere in your house.  Similar in feel and atmosphere to Corpse Party, Spirit Camera is a bite-sized J-horror game best played in your house at night when you're all alone... just be careful that you don't trip over your coffee table or smash a window with your 3DS in the course of your ghost hunting.

Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Cost: $25
Best purchased via: Amazon.com