It’s nearly October. It’s time to prepare for the month of fear. Get the games, turn off the lights, close the door and turn up the volume. Follow our sure-fire guide to get you quaking in time for Halloween.
01 - 04 October
It’s the first week of October. The sun is sort of out, the nights are drawing in and you huddle in blankets for warmth, determined not to admit that summer is over and that the heating may need to go on.
This is when you turn to your Xbox or PC and open up Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (2005). Ah, I can see you horror fans sit up and rub your hands together with glee, here comes H.P. Lovecraft’s town of Innsmouth and its horrifying collection of denizens.
While not your typical holiday location, this is a worthy place to start on your journey to pant-wetting terror. As P.I. Jack Walters you’re thrust amidst the bizarre and grotesque inhabitants of this sleepy town unaware that things are about to get a whole bunch of weird. The townsfolk ooze creepiness with glassy eyes, pale skin and voices like swallowed tongues. No spoilers here, dear reader, you must go forth and do your homework and play the game yourself.
When you’re done it’s time to move on to the next step, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998).
05 - 08 October
Feel slightly weak at the knees and a little fraught after the mutilating mayhem of Innsmouth? Now slide that disc into your Nintendo GameCube and meet the Redead.
“The Redead!” you exclaim.
Yes, I reply.
Sure there are plenty of other icky horrors lurking in the pixels of Ocarina of Time, but it’s the Redead that really give you the wiggins. They hang about the ruined cities and tombs like depressed teenagers without local pubs (or girlfriends), looking for all the world like they couldn’t hurt a fly.
But get within an inch of one of these blighters and next thing they’re on your back, with their ghastly shrivelled arms wrapped about your neck, shrieking, biting and strangling.
It’s the way they ooze slowly towards you on their horrible long legs that paralyzes even hardened gamers for precious seconds. You also can’t but wonder why it is that they’ve managed to carve themselves these creeptastic masks but are wearing less clothing than a supermodel at a Versace show.
09 - 12 October
You are in the bowels of the second week of October and you’ve spent your time running away from, and hitting, creepy sub-humans. You are officially warmed up and ready to tackle the grim horror of the killing clown, Adam Macintyre. Dead Rising (2006) brought us this nasty man with his chilling giggle, his poison balloons and his tendency to juggle two (yes, two) chainsaws simultaneously.
Frankly, I think the developers probably still don’t sleep very well at night after coming up with this monstrosity. I mean, he’s a clown! Whoever thought clowns were funny was not entirely normal.
Adam ambles on the screen oozing an amiable persona and ambiguous designs. Is he your enemy or not?
You’re not quite sure until he starts leaping and giggling and juggling those damn chainsaws far too close to your precious skin. Walk away from that without feeling a little squirmy, I dare you...
13 - 16 October
Having nailed Adam Macintyre to the floor, you’re now ready to enter the halls of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999). Ah yes, this lab-created lovely is all hugs and kisses from the moment he first lays eyes on you. Like every stalker, he won’t stop until he gets you, and gets you good.
He’s a constant looming presence throughout the game with bad breath and an even worse dental plan. He’s also practically impossible to kill. Armed with missile launchers and virus tentacles, among other things, he is probably just misunderstood. After all he only wants to hold your bloody carcass in his, ahem, tentacles.
17 - 21 October
Look, I’m not exactly your fainting flower who collapses in a trembling heap the moment a whiff of something scary enters the air but I definitely do get shivery when things try to find me by sniffing the air!
Ah, yes, the Berserkers from Gears of War (2006).
These megalithic monsters are horrific, not just because they are the epitome of destruction and mayhem, but because they’re blind and use their olfactory senses to hunt you down.
The moment they lose track of you, you can hear the dreaded “snort, sniff” as they search out your scent and then, the second they get wind of your location, they run at you with deadly intensity, smashing through any obstacles in their way.
And if you’re a big chicken and run away, the roaring thunder of them chasing you will only make you even more terrified.
A shudderific title to titillate your terror buds as we enter into the final week of October – the week of the damned.
22 – 25 October
Fancy spending some time with an insane AI that has the power to crush you like a grape and believes it is the divine one? Slide System Shock 2 (1999) into your drive and prepare to meet SHODAN.
You spend the entire game feeling the weight of her gaze over your shoulder as you tackle the shambling horrors she sends after you while you singlehandedly attempt to save the human race. System Shock 2 isn’t about sharp jabs of horror, although there are definitely some in there for the addicted, it’s about that constant low level of fear that inches up, notch by notch as you explore the game. Pure, unadulterated genius.
26 – 31 October
It’s time. Time to meet the leader of the pack. The game and the character that are going to take you by the adrenalin and lead you, shaking, into All Hallows Eve.
“Hello Pyramid Head, how’s your great, big, gigantic knife today?”
Try not to tell him he’s overcompensating for something, he’s hard enough to kill without you antagonising him.
This pale, zombie-like character has creeped out gamers so successfully that he actually has a fan base. In his leather apron, chilling helmet and layers of old gore, Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2 (2001) will make you shiver and definitely cause a goosebump or three.
He also has a tendency to do bad things to the other monsters in the town. Nobody’s safe from this guy. At least in other games you can imagine the creepy crawlies getting together after a hard day’s killing, putting their feet up with a nice cup of tea and reminiscing about the damage they’ve done. Pyramid Head would do something nasty to each and every one of them before breaking the teapot and eating the tea.
If you haven’t had a date with him yet then it’s definitely time for you to give him a try.