Halloween means different things to different people. First and foremost, it’s about dressing up in ways you’d never dress normally - in ways your imagination can barely grasp. It’s about trick-or-treating, Pagan-style. It’s about eating potentially poisonous candies that strangers just give to you for free. Or, if you’re too old for all that, it’s about buying whole bags at the grocery store and eating them under your bed where no one can see you.
Halloween is about the crispness of the moist, autumn air counter-balanced by the way-too-hot apple cider with just a hint of cinnamon. It’s about the smell of Fall, of late October – sort of like a cross between pumpkin bread and burning leaves. It’s about playing cruel tricks on timid little children, scaring the dickens out of them to the point that they never want to leave the house again. At least, not until next Halloween.
Last, but not least, Halloween is about the movies, the TV shows, and the videogames you experience in the weeks and days leading up to the big event. The ones that make you love Halloween all the more, if that’s even possible.
But all of this is just another way of saying: Halloween is about the atmosphere. Not literally, of course, although a thick, gray fog never hurt anybody – but in terms of the sounds, the smells, the colors, and the noises prior to, and on the day of - as well as how all of that combines to make you feel incredibly on edge.
As such, we’ve constructed the perfect combination of videogames, television episodes/specials, and movies to help make this Halloween the most atmospherically-charged of your life.
Costume Quest is the third videogame (after Psychonauts and Brutal Legend) to be produced by the great Tim Schafer’s award-winning Double Fine Productions, and it encapsulates every fantastic Halloween memory you’ve ever had inside of a single $15 download. Trick or treating! Hide and go seek! Bobbing for apples! Costume competitions! Fighting the bloodthirsty goblins and witches who kidnapped your sister! Wait – scratch that last part.
You play as a brother (Reynold) or sister (Wren) – depending on your choice of gender – on a particularly peculiar Halloween night. After your sibling gets kidnapped by candy-stealing Goblins from an alternate dimension, you and your neighborhood buddies chase them down across all manner of suburbia: from your neighborhood to the nearby mall to the countryside and beyond - and, thanks to the power of imagination, every costume you wear (ten in all) gives you special powers in battle.
For example, if you’re dressed as a cardboard robot, in battle, you’ll be an actual giant robot with missile launchers and rocket boots and the like. The same goes for the ninja costume, the Statue of Liberty costume (my favorite), the vampire costume, and so forth. Haven’t you always wanted to be a gigantic Statue of Liberty with healing powers? Haven't we all?
Check out the trailer below:
Costume Quest combines grade-A hilarity (there’s even an Arrested Development joke in there), classic LucasArts adventure elements, and fun (albeit easy) RPG gameplay to become the epitome of Halloween-themed gaming. Admittedly, there aren’t a whole lot of contenders to challenge its supremacy in that regard, but even if there were, they’d have their work cut out for them.
Truly, if there’s one game in existence that will fill you to the brim with Halloween magic, this is it.
Silent Hill 2
Personally, Silent Hill 2 is not my favorite of the Silent Hills – that honor belongs now and forever to the original – but its intensely creepy atmosphere is practically unparalleled in the realm of survival horror. Which is why it’s perfectly suited for contributing to your general enjoyment of All Hallow’s Eve.
You’re James Sunderland, a widower who receives a letter from his dearly departed wife, Mary, to meet him at their “special place” in Silent Hill. How is a dead lady sending letters to her very much alive husband, you might ask? Well, that’s just one of the many fun-loving mysteries of the second Silent Hill! Also, because James is a glutton for punishment – and not in the eats-too-many-delicious-hamburgers sort of way – he travels to Silent Hill to find the answers.
Hands down one of the most dread-inducing scenes comes early on, when Pyramid Head, a rusted blade-wielding monster-man with a giant pyramid for a head (see, it's not just a clever name!) chases you down a hallway and kills your companion, Maria, who just happens to look exactly like your dead wife.
Check it out:
Admittedly, it’s more dread-inducing when you’re actually playing it.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Like most great videogames of the early 1990s, Zombies Ate My Neighbors was produced by the version of LucasArts that dared to make more than just Star Wars videogames. Utilizing a Bart Simpson-esque brand of humor and the overhead run-and-gun gameplay of Metal Gear, Zombies is at best when you have a friend to join and play the two-player mode.
Together with your pal or loved one, you navigate stereotypically suburban neighborhoods (followed by slightly less suburban locales like castles and pyramids) as you destroy zombies, vampires, giant ants, giant worms, giant demon babies (pictured above), werewolves, aliens, and so on - with common everyday items for weapons like super-soakers, soda-can-grenades, weed-whackers, and silverware, all while attempting to save at least ONE innocent civilian per level. Pretty complex stuff, huh?
Check out the gameplay below:
While Zombies Ate Your Neighbors wasn’t exceptionally successful upon release, it developed a substantial cult following soon after and is revered to this day. In fact, it’s so well-remembered that it was released on the Wii Virtual Console just prior to Halloween 2009. So if you’ve never had the pleasure of playing this game – and if you have a Wii with a classic controller – get to downloading this thing A.S.A.P. There are only so many days left until October 31st, people.
- Alone in the Dark (1992)
- Silent Hill 1 and 3
- Luigi’s Mansion
- Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
- Resident Evil 4
- Gabriel Knight