Halloween games

Ok, my wife and I really loved the original Silent Hill. Since then, we have tried to recapture that experience every October, but it has never worked. This year we tried SH3, but it has no story and no compelling reason to move on, other than just exploring, which is limited in these games. I was wondering what people thought were some of the best “mood” games out there for the consoles (I have them all). We’d really like something that captured the creepiness of the original SH, so we aren’t necessarily looking for more action-oriented games (like Eternal Darkness or some of the RE games, though I haven’t tried all of those).

Any recommendations?

Doom 3, but its a completely different style. Still, very scary. :)

I know you said consoles, but you still might wanna look into the Alien Swarm mod for the PC version of Unreal Tournament 2004. It’s super moody and very tense, albeit more like Aliens 2 than Halloween. It’s also got a very good co-op mode. And the best part is that it’s free, provided you already own a copy of UT2k4. Not sure if your wife will go for it though.

Grabbed by the Ghoulies. Okay, I’m joking.

While nothing since has captured the absolute horror and atomosphere of Silent Hill, I’d recommend Siren (PS2) or Fatal Frame (either) as being close in terms of moody scariness. Neither game channels that Jacob’s Ladder aesthetic of rust and decaying medical equipment like Silent Hill, but each has its own virtues.

If you find stealth gameplay and a coherent story to be prime virtues, then Siren should be top of the list. An anthropologically complete tour through the mythologies surrounding a lost Japanese village, as seen through the eyes of 10 different characters over 3 days. Moody, creepy and sad, this is for me the best of the survival horror genre. It has a somewhat convoluted plot, but is definitely easier to puzzle out than the original Silent Hill.

More of a ghost story/haunted house game, Fatal Frame (and its sequel) are both mood over action games. Your only weapon is a ghost capturing camera, and the game is as much about creepy exploration as it is action. The decaying haunted house is very well done, and a nice change from the victorian architecture that is present in most of the haunted house games I’ve played. Fatal frame is very spooky, but not quite as ambitious or varied as Siren.

Any of these three would be good choices for a late October scare.

Thanks, Kevin. We’ll try both of them. I haven’t heard much about Siren, though. Has anyone else played it? From Kevin’s description, it sounds pretty good.

As a huge fan of Silent Hill, all I can say is that Siren bored/annoyed me a great deal. So I’d personally recommend Fatal Frame 1 & 2 or The Suffering.

But this may be the key - I appreciate a great story in a game, but if the gameplay isn’t there then I’m going to get bored. This is why SH2 is my least-favorite of the SH series, even though it by far has the best story. The combat sucked so very badly and the pacing was poor - way too much aimless running around in between the interesting moments. Well, okay, the puzzles were nifty too - that’s still not enough to make up for the lifeless combat.

Siren suffers from the exact same “problems” I had with SH2, but in your case, since you mentioned not liking SH3 because of its poor story, you may wind up enjoying it a lot more than I did. For some reason, even though I love Thief and like plenty of other stealth games, Siren’s approach to stealth just annoyed me. I can’t really remember why, though - something about how even after you scout out enemy patrol patterns and think you can proceed through an area safely, you might get spotted because of a random twitch of the head or something. I remember doing a lot of reloading and wondering “what the hell did I miss?” And since combat is not a viable option (it’s boring and you cannot permanently kill anything), you have no choice but to rely on stealth.

Again, fantastic story and great atmosphere, but bad gameplay. Maybe it’ll appeal to you more than it did me.

The Suffering’s story isn’t as good (although better than what you might expect given that it revolves around prisoners… I was just disappointed that it centers around one of the main elements of SH2, but doesn’t use it as effectively). The prison is arguably not as creepy an environment as the SH “alternate world” crazy stuff. But I liked it because the combat is far more intense than these other games. You play the role of a badass, but the monsters make up for that by being impressively deadly themselves. It’s definitely more of an arcade game with a horror theme than a traditional survival-horror title, so I’m not sure it’ll fit your criteria.

Fatal Frame is great on almost every level IMO… slow-paced FPS style combat that focuses on timing rather than having good snap-reflexes and aim. The first game is arguably too tough (it’d make a great PC FPS, I think) while the second might be too easy, but what can I say, I enjoyed both a lot. As far as intangible stuff goes, the story and atmosphere are almost on a par with Siren, which is to say they’re great. I don’t think you can go wrong here.

The first Fatal Frame may require a restart unless you’re careful. The first time I played it, I ran out of film right at the start of Chapter Four and there was no more to be found anywhere.

If you’ve got a GameCube, Eternal Darkness would make a good Halloween game.

I haven’t played either of the Fatal Frame games personally (way too scary from me) but I know there was some very positive discussion about these titles on the boards that should come up in a search of the site. I’m pretty sure Tom Chick enjoyed them and Triggercut absolute raves about the series.

Fatal Frame 2 is one of the best horror games I’ve ever played. I liked FF1 as well, but FF2 was amazingly good. Great Halloween game–best played at night, wth the lights out.

When out of the cheapest film type, you can always get a few free pieces by visiting a save point.

Siren is an original, varied and impressive experience, with strong atmosphere vaguely reminiscent of Silent Hill, plenty of gameplay, but very challenging and often degenerating in trial and error, so only suitable for the most patient fans of stealth games.

Fatal Frame games are excellent (the first) to good (the second).
They have exceedingly similiar stories, which I apprecciate for putting more relevance on human feelings than horror finction, in comparison to Resident Evil and Silent Hill games.
Atmosphere is great, and scares aren’t missing. This is archieved with pretty interesting ambient design, great use of sound, lots of small scripted events well integrated in the gameplay so to not become intrusive, a combination of triggered and randomly spawning ghosts causing you to never feel safe, and a combat engine that requires some effort from the player.
Their gameplay (read: combat) is also good, again at difference of the RE and SH games.

Fatal Frame II has higher production values.

FF 1 offers a more consistently interesting ambientation, and much more fun combat, due faster and less prevedible enemy attack patterns, faster battles, the option to the player to take a more aggressive approach to combat by using charged or close shots - where in FF2 you are usually forced to play defensively and wait for the enemyes to enter an “off guard” animation to damage them noticeably, which causes battles to drag.

Personally, the first Fatal Frame is my favorite horror game ever, and an easy recomendation.

Pools of Radiance II horrified a lot of people.

Fatal Frame 2 is far and away the scariest game I’ve ever played.

I’ve played 'em all, too. From the first GK game, through Microprose’s absurd “Legacy”, through the Phantasmagorias, etc. etc.

The Director’s cut for the Xbox shipped today. I simply can’t recommend it strongly enough.

Join me in to the “Fatal Frame” crowd. Damn near shit m’self a couple times playing that one. Same with “Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem” on the Cube, if you have a Gamecube.