Jason Madanjian ’15 & Matt Buckley ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
Horror video games are an often neglected sub-genre of the industry. They do not offer the big budget thrills of a new Halo or Call Of Duty game. But what they lack in scope, they make up for scares. Ignore the latest money-grab that is Resident Evil 6, and check out these free, indie downloads, with their brilliant simplicity, that are sure to get you revved up for a wickedly fun night.
5. The House
The House is simple and perhaps the easiest to play on this countdown. It does not require a download, just flash player. It can be played directly from a game website. The game itself is a simple point and click, in which you are viewing the house from a first person perspective. You move from room to room after completing everything that can be done in each room. There are usually only three or four items per room that are clickable. With every interaction something may run by, a shadow may appear when lightning strikes, or a new creepy sound may be added into the background. After a few things happen, the game allows you to move into the next room. There seems to be somewhat of a mystery or a story to the house, in which the family members commit suicide or are poisoned, but no critical thinking is necessary. At some points, it turns into clicking the items a few times until you can move to the next room. But there are some surprises, namely a hand smacking the screen, or a girl falling from the ceiling. This game is scary, easy to play, which brings it into the top five, but its overwhelming simplicity kept it from placing higher.
While a more advanced and frightening point and click game, Exmortis soon runs you into a wall, in which you find yourself retracing your steps and just trying to find something new rather than actually being scared. The game is very well done, the sound and actual visuals are well done, and there are even a few books in the game that go on for pages with good stories. But while this is interesting, the game is slow, and seems to try too hard to build tension. It has plenty of tension, but not enough delivery. Any kind of noise from the outside world will make you jump and even yell, but this will happen more often outside of the game than inside of the game. This game is good for people who don’t want to download anything and have plenty of time on their hands.
3. Au Sable
Whoever said retro is not scary clearly has not seen photos of their parents from the 1980’s or played this spooktacular 8-bit video game Much like the Super Mario and Zelda’s of years past, this side-scroller has decidedly primitive graphics and chip tune music. And yet, that is why it excels. The homemade quality of the game, complete with your character, a girl with blood red hair, is just janky enough to freak you out. The music is just as haunting and simple as the graphics. The plot is non-existent. You simply jump from platform to platform, avoiding blood lava and fire-breathing blob creatures. You have no weapons. You’re only option: to run, quickly. Perhaps, the best comparison for this game is with that of a low-budget horror flick. The scares are cheap, but effective. And although you will not remember what you played, when something screeches late at night, you will be scared all the same.
No music. No characters. No clues. This first-person video game can almost be frustratingly benign and confusing if it was not so scary. But it is. The game allows the player, with only a flashlight in-hand, to explore an empty house and the mysteriously labeled doors on the second floor. But there is more to this house than what initially meets the eye. And discovering its secrets is a commendable way to celebrate the Halloween season. Like anything truly scary, it uses atmosphere and a slow-burning pace to suck in its viewer, unnerving them all the more.
1. Slender: The Eight Pages
Slender, a game that has not even been around for a year yet, has already made its way into the scariest games of all time. This game is played from the first person point of view of someone who is wandering a mysterious woodland environment trying to collect eight pages. Each page spreads a warning or a hint as to what is after you. Messages saying “Don’t look or it takes you” and “Always watches no eyes” eventually lead you to find that you are being followed by a terrifying man with no face, and as soon as you look at him, he takes you, and the game is over. The game is perfectly simple. You cannot move quickly, all you have for light is a flashlight, the only warning system you have that warns you when Slenderman is nearby is a static sound, that slowly begins to take over the screen. All it takes is one false turn, one quick look, and Slenderman can take you. This game does not use gore, or action to scare you, it is pure tension and fear, and that is what makes it the number one scariest game on a college budget.