Written by Lori May
The spooky season is just around the corner, and given our pandemic-fueled world, more and more students have expressed frustration over the lack of activities to attend in person for the 2020 Halloween season. For gamers, there is a plethora of spooky, creepy, unnerving, or terrifying video games All Hallow’s Eve. But sorting through the extensive options on Steam is daunting to even the most spooky-loving PC gamer, so the following Top 7 list of recommendations are vetted, tested, and worthy of your consideration. As a bonus, we have limited our Top 7 list to titles that can be purchased for under $20, because no one needs to go broke for Halloween!
Amnesia: The Dark Descent – No Halloween, spooky, or horror video game recommendation list can be complete without the infamous, incredibly terrifying Amnesia series. With Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the franchise started, helping to make Frictional Games a household name among the Indie Dev community. Amnesia is a first-person horror experience that challenges the perceptions of the player and the character they control, twisting reality, adding sanity elements, and making you terrified of the dark. The storyline is compelling, and the admittedly dated graphics – this title released in 2010 – make it a friendly title for gamers who do not have the most upgraded PC. This title is suspenseful and alarming, even unsettling as you discover plot key points, and it is a lengthy game experience. Replay value is minimal once you know all the twists and turns, but never underestimate how fun it is to ambush a friend with this title and send them into the abyss unaware! Amnesia: The Dark Descent is available on Steam for $19.99.
Layers of Fear – Few titles can rival the psychological aspects present in Layers of Fear, which blends suspense, horror, perception, and delusions to create a rich, highly atmospheric world. Players fill the shoes of a tortured artist in his Victorian mansion and search through increasingly disturbing, distressing halls of his home to unlock clues about the plot – both the obvious themes, and the implicit meaning beneath the surface. Each playthrough differs slightly, and two people playing at the same time can end up with vastly different locations, occurrences, and endings. Released back in 2016, Layers of Fear continues to be one of the strongest, most popular (and award-receiving) horror titles on Steam, and the story-focused exploration leads to all kinds of psychedelic, horrific discoveries. Buy on Steam for $19.99.
Outlast – Outlast has become a definitive example of the horror genre of video games and is notorious among the gaming community for its atmospheric, terrifying, engaging style of survival horror. Capitalizing on the popularity of an insane asylum for a location, players delve into a twisting, turning, tormenting experience as they take on the role of one very brave – or very foolish – journalist. Without any means of defense, players must learn quickly how to hide well, or how to unrun scores of horrific monsters inside the asylum. Outlast challenges perceptions, and the variety in enemies blend from deceptively normal but deadly to truly outrageous and monstrous. The developers claim that the scenes and stories within Outlast’s asylum are based on true stories and legends surrounding these increasingly well-known haunted locations, and the AAA-level graphics, audio, and score make the Outlast world come alive in compelling ways. Pick this one up on Steam for $19.99 and find out what all the hype is about!
Pacify – Pacify is one of the newer releases on this Top 7 list, and it has enjoyed numerous updates and improvements since its release in 2019. With a new map pending any day now in celebration of the Halloween season, Pacify is one of the few titles on this list that offers both a single-player and a multiplayer experience. Each map has a different scenario and monsters, forcing players to adapt to the specific elements of the monster in question, and figure out how to defeat the creature and escape the farm or the mansion. Full of suspense and some jump-scare moments, Pacify is an engaging experience that forces the players to investigate haunted locations and try to escape. There is a PvP option as well, not just Co-Op interaction as the paranormal team, allowing players to choose how they want to play. Priced at $4.99 on Steam, Pacify is one of our most affordable, versatile options for Halloween video games.
Darkwood – Originally launched on KickStarter, Darkwood released on Steam back in 2017, and since then it has become a go-to classic for modern survival horror. Featuring a top-down view with an expansive world full of unspeakable horrors, Darkwood challenges players to face the things that go bump in the night while scrambling to balance survival needs and terror in the darkness. Part supply scavenger hunt, part cowering in a corner while things shuffle around you in the shadows, Darkwood gives no quarter – there are no quest markers, no helpful map navigation, and extremely limited resources. The world is randomly generated, so each playthrough is unique, and the NPCs in the world range from helpful and diabolical, and each are intriguingly weird. You can tailor your character with customization through perks, and by concocting potions and materials in the in-game crafting system, but as with most decisions in Darkwood, there can be dire consequences to your choices. Purchase on Steam for $14.99 and see how long you can stand the long nights.
Five Nights at Freddy’s – Few horror video games have spawned quite the franchise that Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNaF) has enjoyed, but the original remains one of the most popular games of this style on Steam. With a surprisingly compelling storyline that follows FNaF into its sequels, the original experience is a showcase of jump scare terror, spooky atmosphere, and challenging muscle-memory mechanics. This title is great to play in the dark, especially if you want to be startled, and frequently. The cast of menacing robots are coming to get you, and each has its own dynamics and tells. Relying heavily on both audio and visual cues, FNaF lures you in, gets you hooked, and then (probably) wrecks your face repeatedly. There is a bit of a learning curve as you figure out how your enemies work, but once you know the gist of the game, the next step is to get faster and faster at operating the pizzeria controls after dark. Priced at $4.99 on Steam, Five Nights at Freddy’s is an inexpensive addition to your horror library.
BIGFOOT – BIGFOOT is a multiplayer survival horror title featuring the infamous creature of legend, taking place in the vast forest of a wilderness reserve. With many weather conditions and generous maps, players must use their wits and an arsenal of traps to try and find Bigfoot’s lair. Players can choose to go it alone if they wish, as BIGFOOT offers a single-player option, but the game is enhanced by the presence of an entire team of brave adventurers; up to four players can team-up and try not to become the prey in this game of mythical cat-and-mouse. With an active Discord community and frequent updates, BIGFOOT has more on the horizon, and players are eager to see what traps and maps could be in the works for later updates. You can pick up BIGFOOT on Steam for $15.99 and find out once and for all if you’re capable of catching this elusive missing link.