Depending on your location in the world, you may be feeling the physical effects of the season. The temperatures might be slowly dropping, causing you to pull out that old faithful sweatshirt or sweater. Shorts are being traded for pants and long underwear. Scarves and hats are going back to being a necessity, rather than a fashion statement. Pumpkins are popping up in grocery stores and farmer's markets everywhere. It's fall, my dudes, and the most wonderful time of the year is soon to be upon us. I am absolutely not talking about the holiday season, but rather, Halloween.
That spookiest of holidays just so happens to be my favorite. And when it relates to video games, it can mean just one thing: horror. The Halloween season is the perfect time of year to pull some scary titles off your bookshelves or resurrect them from your Steam libraries. I firmly believe that horror games are fantastic the whole year round, but no one can contest that now is the time to remember them. In the spirit of the season, I want to have a talk about why the horror genre of video games is quite possibly the best one of all.
To begin with, let's look at it in simple terms. Horror is considered a genre in video games, but it's also a basic theme. You can have all sorts of different kinds of gameplay with a horror theme wrapping itself around it like a bat's wings. There are role-playing horror games like Vampyr. Plenty of walking simulator horrors exist, like SOMA. There are even horror simulator games. Plus, it's arguably the best genre to sell virtual reality to people. Love haunted houses, but hate having people touch you? Horror VR is here to save the day!
Not only does horror fit into all kinds of different genres, but it also covers an insane gamut of subjects. There are horror games that realistically delve into mental illness, like Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. Plenty that pit us up against our deepest darkest fears, whether that may be spiders, clowns, enclosed spaces, or zombies. Still others cover real life issues like loss, grieving, and human depravity. They take place in outer space, deep under the sea, in regular homes, or in fanciful castles. There are absolutely no limits to the horror genre. Unlike sci-fi or fantasy, which can be limited to certain subjects and locations, horror can take advantage of all of the above.
Horror is often a marginalized genre because it doesn't necessarily appeal to as wide of an audience as other video game genres. But more and more people are starting to give it a chance. I'm absolutely terrified by ghosts, the paranormal, and the thought of seeing and hearing things that aren't really there. Even still, I face my fears with horror video games because I know I should. Life is about challenging yourself and meeting the things that terrify you head on. It's certainly not easy, but it helps you grow. Horror video games allow us a safe way to challenge ourselves.
A great personal example that stands out for me involves a haunted house, that most stereotypical of horror locations. Layers of Fear feels like so much more than that, though. It brilliantly tells the tale of an artist who is slowly going insane. In reality, it is super hard for me to visit a haunted house. I just do not enjoy being startled, I never have, and possibly never will. Layers of Fear mostly relies on a haunting environment, but there are certainly moments where things happen that cause you to jump. My tension and fear of being startled has caused my hands to literally shake while playing this game. You'd think that would drive me just as crazy as the game's protagonist, but really it thrills me. I admittedly only play the game in short sittings before I “Nope!” on out of there, but I often find myself laughing at how silly my reactions are. I'm not traumatized for days later, but rather feel proud of myself for doing something that frightens me.
There are so many great horror games out there in the wild. No matter what your preference may be, there is bound to be something for you. Check out our list of top horror games, or ask some of your horror obsessed friends for recommendations. Don't let your fear hold you back; everyone can find a horror game to enjoy!