If you’re a horror game fan like I am,
Halloween’s probably got you in the mood to dust off some of your old
favorites for a creepy trip down memory lane. Everyone knows their
“Resident Evils” and “Silent Hills,” but if you’re looking to
expand your horror game repertoire a bit, here are a few gems of the
genre that are perfect for the season.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors-
LucasArts, 1993 (Super
Nintendo, Sega Genesis)

The
first game on the list may be more funny than scary, but I can
scarcely think of a more perfect Halloween game than “Zombies Ate
My Neighbors.” The game essentially plays like a refined version of
the 1985 arcade game “Alien Syndrome” with you and a friend
tromping around suburbia to save your hapless neighbors from a
smattering of monsters inspired by classic horror films. Aside from,
well, zombies, most of the Universal monsters are also around to
menace, like vampires in the style of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, wolfmen
and creatures from the black lagoon. Blobs, killer dolls, and giant
ants also make appearances, making “Zombies Ate My Neighbors” a
real treat for horror film fans. The game was recently released on
WiiWare, so it should be pretty easy to get your hands on. Don’t
bother with the clumsier sequel “Ghoul Patrol’ (Also on SNES and
WiiWare).

Alone In The Dark-
Infogrames, 1992 (PC, 3DO, Mac)

Inspired by H.P.
Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, “Alone In The Dark” was the game that
set the formula for the “survival-horror” genre, made popular by
the 1996 giant “Resident Evil.” In the game, artist Jerry
Hartwood has committed suicide in the attic of his Louisiana mansion,
known as Derceto. As either a supernatural private investigator or as
Hartwood’s niece, the player must discover Derceto’s secret before
the mansion’s dark power consumes them as well. Graphically, the game
has not aged well, but this gives it a strange, eerie charm that
weaves well with the supernatural narrative. The game spawned a
handful of sequels, most recently the poorly received 2008 game of
the same title. For fans of survival-horror who want to see where the
genre started, the original is a must play.

The Dark Eye- inSCAPE,
1995 (PC, Mac)

This
is a bit more esoteric of a title, but if you can track down a copy
it’ll be well worth your time. Less of a game and more of an
interactive film, “The Dark Eye” has the player walk through
three of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories in the first person:
“Berenice,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale
Heart.” To make this creepier, you go through each once as the
tale’s murderer, and again as its victim. The game’s graphics are
entirely claymation, with characters displaying exaggerated and
grotesque facial features and a sickly pallor that makes “The Dark
Eye” one of the most aesthetically interesting video games ever.
Watching Montresor seal you in your makeshift tomb brick-by-brick in
“Amontillado” is a truly unnerving experience. There’s very
little in the way of gameplay in “The Dark Eye,” but it
definitely makes up for it with atmosphere.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem-
Silicon Knights, 2002 (Nintendo Gamecube)

Though
commercially unsuccessful in 2002, “Eternal Darkness” has since
reached cult status for its intricately-woven story and interesting
sanity mechanic. Not unlike “Alone In The Dark,” the game’s main
storyline has the player as Alexandra Roivas, a college student who
is investigating the mysterious death of her grandfather in a
mansion. Throughout the game, you play through a number of vignettes
throughout different periods of time and in different locations,
ranging from Persia in 25 B.C. to the frame story’s 2000 A.D. Rhode
Island. Each story exposes a bit more of the mansion’s true nature,
as the characters’ stories intertwine and overlap. The game is
perhaps best known for its fourth wall-breaking insanity effects.
Your character’s sanity is drained in the presence of monsters, and
when it falls low enough strange effects take place. These can range
from in-game effects, such as paintings of idyllic landscapes turning
hellish or walls bleeding, to more meta-effects, like the game
pretending it’s changed the video channel on your television or that
it’s deleting your save file. There have been rumblings of a possible
sequel in recent years, but no official word yet.

There
are a lot of horror games out there. Most of them are pretty bad, but
there are still plenty of fun and, often times, genuinely spooky
diamonds in the rough. This is, of course, only a small sample of the
good horror games that haven’t been developed into big-name genres,
but if you’re looking for a good game for the Halloween season you
may not have thought of before, these are four great places to start.

Alex is a senior majoring in journalism and communication arts. Email him column ideas for the next Herald Arcade at [email protected]