It’s Halloween Overtime at the CD-ROM House
What? Just because the holiday is officially over doesn’t mean the scares stop! Time to let darkness take over the room. Where the drapes are closed, the doors are locked and the only source of light is the glow of a computer monitor. That’s right, it’s Halloween overtime and that means it’s time for more spooky stuff!
It’s always scarier when it’s out of season!
There are many digital ways to experience horror. With many scary or mood setting games at the forefront of our minds, there may be a few that fly under the radar. Elijah and returning guest writer Zach will each be bringing five recommendations to give yourself a new fright this night.
I will be looking exclusively at Steam releases for the convenience of the reader for this list. These are all available on Steam as of the article’s original posted date.
Pumpkin Jack – Nicolas Meyssonnier 2020
Pumpkin Jack is a small indie 3D platformer that was released in 2020. Although short and not particularly scary, it manages to bring a comfortably fun, casual slice to start off the Halloween vibe. Not to mention the developer team is just one person. Impressive!
You play as Jack, a wise-cracking weapon wielding minion bent on ridding the world of Good for…well…good! You use a combination of melee and ranged weapons for combat. Your sidekick, Crow, is also there to help as you journey through brilliantly colorful and goofy levels that hearken back to simpler times. The game gives a nod to the golden age of 3D platforming.
It is often on sale, and I recommend this to those who are looking for non-scary games for their Halloween bag.
Voodoo Vince – 2003 Beep Industries (re-released in 2017)
Voodoo Vince was a 3D platformer released for the original Xbox back in 2003, but it has since seen a great port for new Microsoft consoles and Steam. Playing as a Voodoo doll named Vince, you set out to save your maker from thugs who are up to no good. Set in a beautifully crafted environment, you take our pal Vince through the twisted cobbled streets of New Orleans and the Bayou at night, meeting many enemies and finding new ways to self inflict destruction onto others.
Although not a traditional Halloween or scary game, the occult themes and overall aesthetic serve as a great late evening distraction from the horrors that watch you from outside your bedroom window.
Cry of Fear – Team Psykskallar 2012
There’s no argument about be whether Cry of Fear is a wonky game. It does, however, boast some of the most brilliant moodiness and creepy aesthetics to be had in a FPS to date. All of it is done on the GoldSrc, the engine made famous by Halfe-Life, and it was done by a rag-tag band of volunteers! This mod is a phenomenal masterpiece when exploring the streets and the darker avenues of protagonist Simon’s story.
Chances are you are familiar with Goldsrc combat and engine restrictions, and even then, you still may suffer through some awkward combat encounters and tough enemies. But to trudge through the streets of urban Sweden while deep brooding synths play and shadows twist and turn in the corner of your screen, it can send chills down your spine on a cold October night.
Wait, was there always a shadow in the hallway that looked like something holding a hammer?
Doom 64 – Midway Studios 1997 (Night Dive studios re-released 2020)
Doom 64 was originally a moody console port of the celebrated first person shooter Doom. Although limited by its restriction of being on the console, Doom 64 carved out its own unique aesthetic and feeling to the now veteran gameplay. You still play as Doom Guy and will use an array of weapons to fend off demon assaults and find keys to open doors. Doom 64’s ambience is in a league of its own and well worth the price of admission.
Although not much different from those who are experienced Doom players, others may find the new sounds and looks of Doom 64 a refreshing and brooding experience to substitute handing out candy this year.
Doom 64 EX also exists for those looking to tweak their Doom 64 experience as well.
Zombie Shooter – Sigma Team 2007
If there is any reason to visit zombies after it has over-saturated our media for what seems like an eternity now, it is to visit them with an over the top shoot’em up fashion. This classic Steam game was one of my first purchases and it still holds up. The objectives are simple, and the feedback is satisfying.
Paint the walls of abandoned installations red as you cut through zombies with high caliber rifle bullets, shotgun shells and saw blades. There is something oddly compelling with how the game looks with its splattering of crimson red blood all over the floors all while shell casings spill out of your minigun.
Zombie Shooter is a quaint therapeutic experience as you mow down zombies with a mini-gun after a long day of corn mazes and apple bobbing.
As usual I will be mentioning games that are either hard to find or don’t really work in Windows 10. You know the drill, get that eBay webpage open.
Cryostasis – Action Forms 2008
This game is extremely linear so it’s more about the narrative than the gameplay. The story is pretty good as it follows an dog sled driver who comes upon an abandoned cargo ship. Well, it seems to be abandoned.
It’s kind of a polarizing game. Some like it, some hate it. It’s definitely a game that has pretty limited gameplay. It’s a first person shooter but there isn’t much too shoot at. Since the game takes place on a cargo ship the levels are all tight corridors. There’s not much wiggle room.
However if you are looking for a ghostly tale then check Cryostasis out. It’s a plot that requires the player to piece together exactly what went down on the ship.
You Are Empty – Digital Spray 2006
Speaking of polarizing, You Are Empty is a love/hate kind of game. I personally see past it’s jank and appreciate the abstract visuals. The levels are weird and all the enemies are unique. Like what other game can you say you fought a guy with helicopter blades attached to his back who is shooting you with a nail gun?
Unlike Cryostasis there is much more to shoot at. In fact this game throws waves of enemies at the player. It’s a first person shooter with a wide array of weapons.
It’s a fun game that is very unpredictable. You are never sure of what’s coming next. Does is have problems? Oh yeah. Is it worth dealing with said problems to witness some weird stuff? Definitely.
Inherent Evil: The Haunted Hotel – Eclipse Software 1999
I typically don’t like point and clicks but this game terrified me as a kid. It’s a spooky game about (as the title suggests) a haunted hotel.
It’s a simple puzzle game with some jump scares. Very reminiscent of those mid-2000s flash games that played. There’s not much else to say without spoiling stuff. Check it out and get ready for cheap JPEG jump scares.
The Thing – Computer Artworks 2002
A cult classic third person shooter that starts right after the end of the movie. There’s a survival element to it as the game is mostly about surviving the Arctic.
The game does get more bombastic and action packed in the later sections. For the most part though it’s slow and tense.
Like Resident Evil, there is a bit of a puzzle element. Certain areas are inaccessible unless using the right items. Sometimes the game is a little cryptic but that’s part of the fun. I don’t think anything is walkthrough worthy but there is moments that require some out-of-the-box thinking.
A game that is most certainty worth checking out.
Constantine – Bits Studios 2005
This movie based game never gets mentioned. It’s a shame too because it’s fun, brainless third person shooter. It’s a great game to play if you don’t have a lot of time or just want to shut your brain off for a moment.
This is before the days of streaming so it was a treat to see movie clips inter-cut with gameplay. A time capsule of a game that’s oddly relaxing. A fun game that’s not really scary but the subject matter is enough to carry the tone.
That’s all we got to share. We hope all of you had a good Halloween and are ready for more spooks!
Got any games you’ve played or discovered this spooky season? Let us know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org!