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The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

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Countdown to Halloween | Top 5 horror games

As Halloween draws near, here are five horror games that make you get in a spooky mood or make you jump out of your chair
Paulina Borowski
There are a multitude of scary and creepy games to play, but these five horror games are bound to make you jump in terror while you play.

While movies are a great way to get into the spooky season, some prefer a more interactive approach. Many fire up their gaming computers and consoles, dim the lights and play a good scary game. There are plenty of action-filled and bone-chilling horror games to choose from, but these specific five are classics to get any player to make sure they have locked their doors.


5: “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard”

Starting the list at number five is the action-filled horror game, a“Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.” The Resident Evil Franchise began in the classic gaming era of 1996 alongside “Pokemon Red / Blue / Green” and “Crash Bandicoot,” where it credited itself with defining the survival horror genre and the return of zombies to gaming culture. While there is a list of Resident Evil games to choose from, following the general plot with the players typically surviving in environments inhabited by zombies and other frightening creatures, the 7th installment stands out.

The story focuses on a pharmaceutical company that developed a virus which transforms humans into zombies while also mutating plants and animals into bioengineered monstrosities. It follows the classic combat, survival, and puzzle-solving of the franchise, but “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” specifically implements a perspective change while increasing the amount of horror.

The overarching story is a horror of its own, with the spine-chilling ambiance of the game without the dependence on its graphics. The absence of resources, enigmatic surroundings, and gruesome sound effects all contribute to the petrifying experience that is playing “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.” The game shows no mercy for how scary it can be, for example, the scariest scene is the fight with the character Mia, as it is sudden, full of jump scares, and increasingly violent, leaving the player anxious and unsettled.


4: “Outlast”

Number four on the list is the unsettling survival horror franchise “Outlast.” Inspired by found-footage horror films like Quarantine and REC, it was released for Microsoft Windows in 2013. With the franchise not having a continuous story, all further released games take place in the same universe. Each installment’s core gameplay, however, is identical to one another with slightly different variations between each installment, each emphasizing scavenging, stealth, puzzle-solving, and locating crucial items to advance the story.

The first game takes place inside a long abandoned psychiatric hospital. The player, an investigative journalist, upon entering the hospital discovers the halls ransacked and littered with mangled bodies of the former hospital staff.

It is later discovered that deranged inmates of the former psychiatric hospital escaped and caused the destruction of the hospital. The game progresses with disturbing discoveries of science, religion, nature, and something else entirely. The only hope of escape for the player is to unlock the main doors – which is easier said than done.

It features a chilling and suffocating atmosphere, most of the hospital is unlit, with the only way for the player to see it through the lens of a camcorder equipped with night vision. The use of a night vision camcorder creates a sense of fear and adds an extra layer of tension to any discovery captured by the camcorder. “Outlast” has a spine-tingling experience with shrouded darkness that gives a sense of seclusion and claustrophobia which keeps the player on edge the whole gameplay.


3: “Phasmophobia”

Next on the list is the paranormal multiplayer horror game, “Phasmophobia.” It was released for early access through Steam on Microsoft Windows, where it based its gameplay on the popular hobby of ghost hunting. Phasmophobia is a four-player online game where the players, a team of paranormal investigators, enter a haunted location to gather enough evidence to prove, on a contract, the type of ghost that is haunting the location and remove it.

Players use equipment such as an aged AM/FM radio, a notebook, etc. Players must utilize the various pieces of equipment to identify the three pieces of evidence to successfully identify the specific ghost and complete the contract. As players attempt to complete the contract, their sanity stat will drain with certain events and circumstances affecting gameplay, ghosts attempt to hunt down characters when sanity is low.

While “Phasmophobia” has plenty of jump scares and intense moments, it is the overall experience of the gameplay that stays with players after they are done playing. Players are left to think or talk about the game even hours after they have finished playing. The pivotal role of imagination in this game instills an underlying fear that makes players make sure they have locked their doors at night.


2: “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”

A contender for the number one spot is the adventure horror game, Amnesia. It was released via online distribution for Microsoft Windows in 2010, basing its story line on the classic literature of H.P Lovecraft as they share similar themes of isolation, insanity, and interdimensional beings too strange for the human mind to comprehend. The game features puzzles, physics principles, monsters, and unsettling events.

The game opens with the player taking the role of the amnesiac, Daniel, as he wakes in the Brennenburg Castle, deep in the Prussian woods. He has no memory of where he is, who he is, or what he is doing there. Throughout the game, the player explores the castle, solves puzzles, and collects items, notes, and entries that gradually heal his amnesia and reveal the events that put him in this situation. Sudden flashbacks and visions of his past are soon discovered as the origins of his situation are conjured from a mysterious orb, anyone contacted or consulted in person about the orb, is soon to be dismembered.

“Amnesia” leaves players defenseless with no means to protect themselves except for hiding or running away (although either of them is rarely successful.) While encounters from enemies are rare, the growing tension between each encounter often leaves players overwhelmed with panic when they come face-to-face with the enemies. The game relies on immersion in the atmosphere to slowly drive players into insanity.


1: “Layers of Fear”

The game that is by far the most disturbing and bone-chilling game is the psychological horror adventure game, “Layers of Fear,” released on almost every console in February of 2016.“Layers of Fear” was heavily inspired by classic paintings by Francisco Goya, Rembrandt, and other artistic works of the Victorian Era, though the game takes place in 1920 America. “Layers of Fear” is a unique game where each move of a player can change the surroundings.

The player controls a psychologically disturbed painter who is trying to complete his grand magnum opus as he navigates his mansion that warps and twists, revealing dark secrets about the painter’s past. A few moments of the past show how the protagonist’s talent slowly decayed over the years with depictions of his paintings becoming twisted and disturbing. Layer by layer the player uncovers the visions, fears, and horrors that entwine the painter as he descends into madness to finish his masterpiece.

Other horror games use low light and loud noise to frighten players, but “Layers of Fear” goes beyond that threshold as many things come at you from different angles, doors might not work, as normal events produce unexpected results frequently in the game.

With all the elements of “Amnesia,” “Layers of Fear” has an uncomfortable atmosphere of the Victorian mansion, the grotesque visuals of artwork, and the creepy pitch in audio come together in a perfect way that ramps up the elements of a horror game. It is horrifyingly interesting as it tells a dark story that can leave players terrified of their own next move.

These games are sure to make sure your doors are closed for you do not know what can be lurking in the darkness of the night, even when your computer/TV screen is off.

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