The Steam Halloween Sale is in full swing, and that means there are bargains to be had. Spooky bargains. But if you’re anything like me (i.e. a cheapo), you’ll want to wring every last ounce of horror out of games that are already in your collection. Turn the lights down low, put your headphones on and put away your bank card. Here are five of the best titillating and terrifying titles available to anyone with a well-stocked game library and a penchant for a frightful Halloween.
1) Clockwork (Elder Scrolls: Skyrim)
Skyrim has never really been much of a horror game. There were moments where a Draugr or a Dragon or a third monster beginning with D would appear seemingly out of nowhere, but nobody in their right minds would go into Skyrim expecting to have the pants scared off them.
Thankfully, “mods will fix it” have become both the battle cry and the forlorn sigh of Bethesda fans. The lack of horror is no different.
One such modification is Clockwork, by Nexus Mods user Antistar. While Skyrim is no stranger to community-made horror mods, Clockwork is almost certainly one of the most exemplary examples of spook done right in Tamriel. Featuring a Dwemer castle, some creepy custodians, and a seriously scary ghost, it’s no surprise that it is gathering steam among the Elder Scrolls fans that like to put a bit of a scare in their character’s step.
Even people who don’t like horror have something to love in Clockwork: Namely the astounding level of detail in the castle itself (which also acts as a player home). Just take a look at the Nexus Mods page and see the sheer number of credits for custom textures there are. Do yourself a favor this Halloween; close down the Special Edition, log onto the classic and take a trip to Clockwork Castle for a seriously fantastic story.
2) Cry of Fear (Half-Life 1)
Leaving Tamriel behind and stepping into the orange hazmat suit of Gordon Freeman, you’ll remember how the original Half-Life was a watershed moment for gaming. While certainly not a perfect title, it’s considered one of the best shooters ever made – combining story, gameplay and fantastic mechanics into one beautiful bundle. It even had a few scares, though it took until Half-Life 2’s Ravenholm to really show off Valve’s horror chops.
That being said, you don’t need headcrabs to make a creepy Half-Life game. In fact, you don’t need any element of Half-Life at all except for the engine. This is all that horror mod Cry of Fear needs. It’s an original story, original ideas, original maps, original characters, original weapons and original spooks.
It has a few cheap jump scares, it’s true, but what horror game doesn’t? It’s certainly showing its age as well, but like a fine wine, some games just get better with a few more years under their belt. Plus, can you really turn up your nose at something that is both free and of a decent quality? Even if you didn’t like the original Half-Life (though I have yet to meet someone who didn’t), try out Cry of Fear and see if it can’t get you shaking in your boots.
3) Creepy Monsters of the Wasteland (Fallout 4)
Sometimes you don’t need a complete overhaul or a brand new storyline to make a Halloween-worthy mod. Sometimes you just need to take what the original creators had in mind, and then turn it up to 11. That’s what Creepy Monsters of the Wasteland does in spades, managing to change the now yawn-worthy feral ghouls from pests to terrors.
And it doesn’t just stop there. Mirelurks, molerats, dogs, brahmin, radroaches and radscorpions all get the creepy treatment. Rather than simply being slightly odd-looking versions of modern-day beasties, some of these new creatures are utterly unrecognizable until you get them in your scopes. Teeth are pointier, snarls are snarlier, and Yao Guais are even more terrifying than they were before the Halloween treatment.
It might not be the most lore-friendly mod, but to be honest, the original Fallout lore had a ghoul with a tree growing out of his head. I think some freakier-looking mutated crabs can get a pass after that.
4) MISERY (STALKER: Call of Pripyat)
Now, before you pile on and start saying that Call of Pripyat is already a pretty scary game, you have to remember that horror mods aren’t always about inserting ghouls and ghosts into otherwise friendly games. Every STALKER game has had some element of horror in it: I still shudder when I think of the first encounter with a Controller. But while the grim landscape and the ferocious enemies were scary, they didn’t quite go the whole irradiated hog, so to speak.
That’s where MISERY comes in. Sometimes the best experience isn’t encountering yet another jumpscare in the form of a Bloodsucker. Sometimes it’s more about slowly learning just how much of a mistake you have made, coming to this particular area woefully underprepared – particularly with a horde of horrors on your tail. It’s death of your own making that MISERY promotes, turning the difficulty up and introducing more survival elements to make even a casual jaunt into something more life-threatening.
It’s all about careful planning, avoiding conflict where possible and ending it quickly when it does appear. A single wrong move could put you on the pointy end of a claw or a bullet – and nothing is more terrifying than the constant worry that the upgraded Anomalies will tear you apart before the mutated hounds do. Happy Halloween!
5) White Night (Amnesia: The Dark Descent)
Now you’re allowed to pile on! Yes, Amnesia is possibly one of the best-known modern horror titles out there, throwing combat out the window and forcing players to run and hide rather than stand and fight. It takes agency away from the player and makes them play by the games rules – you can’t kill the evil stalking you in this beastly title.
And sometimes, with a Halloween-appropriate horror mod, you just want a little bit more of the same. People seem to agree with me, as Amnesia has a huge number of additional or standalone tales set either in the same universe or one that is clearly inspired by it. You could check out any number of these, but White Night is of particular note. It’s one of the few (perhaps the only) mod that has then been expanded into a published book.
That might be enough to convince you. But combine that with the strong reception it has received from the ModDB community over the years, and the message is clear: Reinstall Amnesia, get to grips with your bladder and take this asylum-based horror mod for a spin.
Did we miss anything off the list? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure you have a truly spooky Halloween this year! Stay tuned to The Nerd Stash for more game, comic and movie news.
A serial hobbyist, Jack loves everything from blacksmithing to brewing – and, of course, the occasional video game.