While horror is a genre to be enjoyed all year long, it’s always fun to terrify yourself on a chilly, dark October night. From light-hearted spooks to heart-pounding terror, there is a little something for everyone on our list. So, join us as the writers of The Nerd Stash show off their spooky side with some of our favorite games to celebrate the spookiest time of year!
Shelby Royal – Outlast
When talking spooky games, in my mind, little comes close to the Outlast games- especially the Whistleblower DLC. I still so vividly remember the first time I opened my night-vision camera to look upon Mount Massive Asylum and the terrors which resided inside. It was terrifying, the atmosphere is perfect, and the main baddies still give me the chills.
As great as the original game is, the developers one-upped themselves with their follow-up DLC. To this day, Eddie Gluskin and his attempts to make you his bride are still some of the scariest things I’ve experienced in a game.
Johnny Reynolds – The Last of Us
From the moment you begin The Last of Us, it lets you know it’s going to kick your ass. And I love every second of it. I could write pages about the character depth, the stellar voice-over performances, and the worldbuilding. But since this is supposed to be about why it scares me, I’ll just stick to that.
The world of The Last of Us is absolutely brutal. I recently replayed it due to Part II getting a (new) release date and it terrified me to my very core as if I were playing it for the first time. Often, while sneaking through enemies, I’d find my body tense and my teeth gritted. This was true even for human enemies, but it’s the infected foes that truly makes my skin crawl.
Sure, rage-induced zombies aren’t anything new. It’s the clickers you need to watch out for. These disgusting, fungus-covered enemies will rip out your throat as soon as they get near you. The combination of repulsive design, sheer power, and unsettling clicking sounds fits smoothly into the nightmares of any player. If you’ve never played, and you have a PS4, I beg you to. It’s the perfect month for it.
Daniel Hollis – SOMA
Horror games are able to impact is in a multitude of ways, that’s what makes them so successful. Whether that be through psychological or in your face scares, each have the ability to get under our skin. What makes SOMA so great is how it manages to finely tread between both at an almost pitch-perfect pace.
Set in an underwater research facility, SOMA immediately ramps up the tension which the constant feeling of isolation. Without giving away any of the incredible plot, SOMA asked many great questions, most importantly, what makes us human? It’s this very question which perpetuates the story forward and results in a constant internal struggle with the game’s events. The uneasy feeling of situations is mirrored beautifully against the decrepit world and the horrors that fill it.
SOMA’s story transcends many other horror games and truly buries itself under your skin. From exhilarating set pieces to disturbing world-building, the underwater hell of SOMA embraces an identity of its own and becomes a truly scary experience from myself. A yearly Halloween treat that makes me glad my feet are on the surface, not on the sea bed.
Bailey MeCey – Luigi’s Mansion
When we think of horror in games, we tend to go towards the more gruesome and bloody examples. Few games, however, can be spooky without resorting to cheap jump scares. Luigi’s Mansion does this extremely well, in a way that is quite surprising given Nintendo is not known for spooky games.
Even without the blood and gore, Luigi’s Mansion is a masterclass in tension building. The way the old mansion creaks and the haunting music follows your actions makes your hair stand on end. Another aspect is how well Luigi’s actions sell what is happening, as you can connect to how scared he is. For instance, Luigi’s hand shaking as he opens a door makes you feel the fear he is experiencing in a way no other game does.
I played Luigi’s Mansion at a fairly young age and was scared going around the mansion at times. I replayed it recently and was genuinely surprised at how it is still unnerving at times. From the terrifying screams of baby Chauncey or the chilling responsibility of homeownership, Luigi’s Mansion is a fun and spooky classic.
Taylor Cole – Resident Evil 2
Let’s just say I’m not an expert in horror games. They stress me out too much and I refuse to go bald by the time I hit my thirties. Hell, I still have yet to get into my second hour of FEAR 2 strictly because I would probably throw my controller through my TV out of panic and I just can’t afford a new TV right now.
All that being said, Resident Evil 2 is one of the few horror games I’ve ever sat down and gotten completely engrossed in. The claustrophobic atmosphere, the stellar gameplay that requires you to think before you unload a clip into the undead, and the campy yet compelling characters all lead to one of the greatest video games of all time.
There are so many memorable moments in this game from its fun and annoying puzzles that require some backtracking to the terrifying Mr. X hunting you down to even the introduction to the Lickers, which is still one of the creepiest cutscenes in gaming.
Whether it’s the 1998 version or the 2019 remake, Resident Evil 2 is the golden standard for horror games and if you haven’t played either version yet, I envy you.
Mark Sethi – Eternal Darkness Sanity’s Requiem
So actual horror elements in games like jump scares and gore never really bother me. The true horror, anxiety, and stress comes from potentially losing hours of gameplay due to limited save files and bad checkpoints. Picture playing a game and after six hours in the game screen goes black and it tells you that your entire memory card has been deleted. That’s why Eternal Darkness Sanity’s Requiem is the most horrific game I’ve played.
Eternal Darkness doesn’t only want to scare with its basic survival horror gameplay. It shatters the entire fourth wall to get you to pee your pants. Eternal Darkness doesn’t only want to hurt the character in the game, it wants to hurt the player too.
Eternal Darkness uses its Sanity Effect mechanic to really mess with the player’s mind. It can turn your TV off, play with the volume, and so much more. That’s truly scary, a game that’s out to mess you up mentally.
Jeffers Haile – Resident Evil 4
I was young when during my first playthrough of Resident Evil 4. Even now, I’m aware it isn’t the scariest game around for what else is out there, but it was memorable. The thing about this title is that it always had a creepy vibe hanging over me. There were jump scares yes, but what got me was the consistent level of never feeling all that safe.
Part of it was the music and the ambiance the game created. Every eerie sound or background “tune” was haunting. The scenery as well just felt… unsettling. Little details carried a lot of weight abandoned dwellings, rotting things in buckets. Every turn of the corner made me feel like I could be jumped, attacked or surprised. No allies and constantly in a state of fear.
It may not sound like it but this is part of what made the game great. Yes, it was a blast to play and gameplay at the time was top notch. Still, Resident Evil 4 wouldn’t have been the same without the creepy factor. Never feeling safe (even when you were), always looking over your shoulder.
Did we miss your all-time favorite spooky games? Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below, and keep coming back to The Nerd Stash for all of your nerdy news and needs! And, most importantly, have a terrifying Halloween!!
Shelby loves horror, animals with short, stubby legs, and PlayStation exclusives. When she isn’t here writing, her nose is often stuck in a book or hacking people in Overwatch.