Each year on Halloween we have some games we like to play through to capture the spirit of the season. There’s quite a few we’ve gotten in the habit of revisiting when the holidays roll; some are on the current systems and many on systems we played growing up. So, sure, we enjoy taking kids trick-or-treating and handing out candy to local neighbors, but we really spend the day looking forward to the chance to play the classic video games we play on Halloween tonight. Here’s a list of four games that we think really capture the Halloween spirit.
Super Castlevania is perfect for Halloween because it takes us back to when we were kids trick-or-treating and then running home to play through this game one more time. There’s no other game that makes you feel like a powerful vampire hunter (though Lords of Shadow comes close!) and the enemies feel as varied and creepy and surprising. There are so many high points: the rotating room, the final three mini-boss fights, the rock boss that gets larger every time you hit him, the torches that light the way to the final battle, and those weird dancing ghosts. Our favorite part is the stage just before you arrive at the castle, a small quick stage through silent fields with creepy music heightening the tension. The music and graphics were amazing at the time and still hold up as excellent artwork today. We used to spend weeks playing though this game, struggling through every level. Now we can blast through it in a single evening, enjoying every minute of it.
I am actually a little sad that we still haven’t played a scarier game than PT. The first thing you notice are the stunning graphics. Then you play through the same hallway several times, wondering if anything is going to happen. Then little changes start to appear that are unnerving and then there are a few jump scares that are unsettling and then things start to get really weird. PT was really everything that the Resident Evil demo was trying to be. It was creepy and unnerving and we played through it a million times looking for clues and hints about secrets in the game. Even knowing most every piece of it now, it’s still the perfect game to scare you on Halloween (if you can find someone with a copy of it).
Halflife 2 (specifically Ravenholm)
Halflife 2 does so many things well (though not everything) and one thing it does really well is introduce you to a scary location and then force you to go to that location. On a macro scale, the game does this with the Combine’s tower, an enormous, mechanical, seemingly-breathing tower where horrible things are happening and where the game concludes. On a smaller scale, the game introduces you quickly to Ravenholm, a city overrun by nightmarish aliens that the bravest resistance fighters do not venture to. Of course, you are quickly forced to go there and engage with the hostile population. You have the assistance of the local priest (who is very handy with as shortgun), several traps, and your own powerful gravity gun. You quickly go from fearing the monsters to figuring out how to kill them in the most creative method possible back to fearing them again as the game heightens the tension in the final act. It’s a great scary level in one of the best games we ever played.
Borderlands 2: TK Bloody Harvest
Few games give you such a beautiful Halloween environment for killing zombies in as Borderlands 2 does. The pumpkin patch, Halloween themed world lets you blast through graveyards and haunted cities while scavenging for powerful loot (a great twist on traditional trick-or-treating). The battle against the local monsters will keep you engaged and the big battle against the Pumpkin Kingpin is a great parody of that Charlie Brown Halloween Special as well. This DLC is both kinda scary and very clever and, if you’re too old for trick or treating, a great way to spend Halloween with some friends.