Happy Halloween! It’s David And Ruby’s favorite horror game
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for goths, cosplayers, witches and wizards and general creepy people: Halloween!
We here at Kotaku Australia wanted to wish you a Happy Halloween and hope you have a very spooky time. We hope you get treats, give treats, and that no tricks happen to you. If tricks happen to you, we hope they’re non-lethal and easy to clean up.
We thought it would be nice for each of us to talk about our favorite horror games and why they are our favorites. On that same note, we’d love for you to comment below and tell us what your favorite game is! It doesn’t have to be downright scary, it can even just be Halloween themed (like Costume Quest), creepy adjacent (as Grimm’s Cave), or even just a little nervous to play (like Omori).
Here are ours!
David’s Choice – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Eternal darkness is a 2002 psychological horror game by Silicon Knights for the Nintendo Gamecube. Right from the jump, there was something different about this game. It was the first game rated MA15+ that Nintendo ever published AND the first game the company released after the great Satoru Iwata took over as president.
The game follows a woman named Alexandra Roivas who returns to her family’s estate after the brutal murder of her grandfather. With the police investigation into his murder stalled, Alexandra begins hunting around her creepy old mansion for clues. In a secret room, locked away, she stumbled upon a book bound in human skin: the Tome of Eternal Darkness. Because she is very smart, Alexandra immediately reads the leather book and discovers that it is full of accounts written by people from the past. Their intertwined stories, which you will now play through, tell the terrifying story of a Roman centurion named Pious and the terrible things he did in service of an unknown, cosmic horror.
The game flips between perspectives – pious in 2000 AD, a young Persian named Karim in 565 AD, a Canadian firefighter named Michael in 1991, a court dancer named Ellia in 1150 AD, a Franciscan monk in names Paul Luther in 1485, a Frankish messenger named Anthony in 814 AD, and Maximillian Roivas, Alexandra’s own ancestor, in 1760. On each playthrough, you’ll only meet three playable characters, and the choices you make determine who you get.
On top of this, your three main characters are all subject to the same three variables – health, sanity and magic – to varying degrees. It’s the sanity meter you really need to look at. The lower it gets, the closer your character gets to going insane. This meter decrements when you’re spotted by an enemy and, if it drops low enough, triggers Sanity Effects, which are randomly generated moments when the game will go out of its way to scare the crap out of you, in line with your character’s weakening grip on reality .
This can manifest as subtle changes in the environment, such as the camera slowly tilting to a Dutch angle, or mysterious sounds and statue heads that follow you wherever you go. It could be a horrible room you’ve never entered, the sudden death of a character you interact with, or even a TV-like promo for Next Time On Eternal Darkness.
This game RULES, still today. Play It. It’s scary and so inventive. That it never got a sequel is a crying shame. The perfect Halloween game.
Ruby’s pick – Alice: Madness Returns
Alice: Madness Returns is a psychological horror hack-and-slash action-adventure platformer developed by American McGee’s Spicy Horse studio and released for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011.
It is also the sequel to American McGee’s Alice, which I’ll admit I haven’t played yet. When I was playing Alice: Madness ReturnsI was fresh out of a scene phase but still had a deep love for all the good goth shit and found myself playing more and more dark games like Bioshock and what not.
Alice: Madness Returns follows the story of Alice Liddell, a traumatized teenager who lives in a very noisy orphanage after being discharged from a psychiatric clinic. To deal with the trauma caused by her family’s death and to learn more about her past, she returns to a twisted wonderland.
There was, and continues to be, much that I love Alice: Madness Returns. When it comes to the visual design of the game, I really like how the game pays a lot of homage to the world of Wonderland while actively paying a lot of attention to detail to make it look truly evil. Everything in the world is so lovingly designed that it’s just a pleasure to explore.
Then there is Alice herself. I loved the different costumes that Alice would wear throughout the game. In addition to this, the hack-and-slash combat mechanics just felt so right. The story of Alice Liddell is just so terribly sad, but her tenacity and strength made me want to keep playing so I could finally see her win.
The character design is so delightfully twisted, especially the enemies. All the different Ruin monsters, Bitch Baby, and Dollmaker were all creatures that I remember being really nervous about, but I also loved every second of it.
And the doll maker. Dr. Bumby. I hate that evil, miserable bastard. There are very few video game antagonists that I felt a burning hatred for more than Dr. Bumby. Bum ass guy. The big twist at the end of that game (which I won’t spoil because I recommend you play it) followed by the following events has stuck with me ever since I finished the game all those years ago.
In my opinion, there is a lot to love Alice: Madness Returns. It kicked me in, scared me, and knocked me out. It might even be time for a rerun for me!
What about you now? What is your favorite horror game, or scary games, or Halloween games? Let us know, and Happy Halloween!