Tis’ the season to be petrified, thanks to Halloween being right around the corner and recent games being predominantly horror-themed. And what better way to celebrate the spooky festivities than to go tiptoeing through some of the industry’s most memorable haunted homes? It seems, at least for the next four weeks, that hurling ourselves into the darkest depths of hell is the best way to experience the holiday in all its glory.
Fortunately, haunted homes aren’t all that uncommon when it comes to gaming — especially survival horror games that favor the familiar hide-and-seek structure and helpless protagonist combination. Question is, which haunted homes provide the scariest jump scares, and which of them are worth experiencing at the dead of night when the only thing you have to keep you company is a dimly lit room and a pair of headphones? Well, let’s go ahead and break ’em down.
5. The Murder House (Visage)
Visage is arguably one of the best story-driven survival horror games of all time. And not only that, but it also bears the seal of approval for having one of the most atmospheric homes in the book, with rooms and quarters that foster some of the most infamous spirits and apparitions in the horror arc. Plus, gameplay-wise, it’s absolutely horrifying, and quite frankly one of the sketchiest survival horror games on the market.
Of course, the plot that reinforces Visage is relatively straightforward, in the fact that you awaken to a strange and almost deserted home that’s evidently rife with the souls of the dead and a whole lot of unsolved mysteries. Your goal is to interact with key objects around the haunted home and ignite a series of episodic memories. For every memory you acquire, a new sinister entity follows closely in your footsteps, leaving you to feel the icy shivers cascade down your neck for what feels like an eternity in a hollow hellhole. Sound like a good time to you? Then Visage is an absolute essential purchase.
4. The Home (P.T.)
Ah yes, the one that got away. Even today, several years after it met its bitter end, Silent Hills is still considered one of the biggest wasted opportunities in gaming. And although we did get a sneak preview of the would-be award-winning survival horror, Kojima’s P.T. just wasn’t enough to quench the thirst of the millions that wanted to see it in its entirety. Still, even in its bite-sized form, the iconic playable teaser was still one of the most immersive demos in the history of horror.
P.T. could be completed in just under twenty minutes. And yet, the fact that each play through would be completely different made it a new experience each and every time. The home that you would be put in would generate ambience and entities in unique ways, which meant, no matter how many times you convinced yourself you knew its world — something was always going to knock you for six. Bottom line is, P.T. was stupidly scary, and it breaks our hearts to know that it was never evolved into a full-fat experience.
3. The Baker’s Home (Resident Evil 7: Biohazard)
Although not technically haunted, per se, the Baker Plantation is still regarded as one of the spookiest and most ambient homes in survival horror to date. And let’s be honest, when its eldest resident makes a habit of popping up in a wheelchair when you least expect it — it’s safe to say that there’s something a little off about the crooked home. Paranormal or not, there’s no brushing this one from the shoulder.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard does a tremendously good job at building atmosphere. True to its horror roots, the game has you rummaging around a seemingly vacant home that fosters secrets like they’re going out of fashion. And so, if there’s any home you should go rifling through this Halloween, it should be the Baker’s. Might as well go one step further and explore it in VR, to be fair.
2. The Homes (Phasmophobia)
Phasmophobia is a multiplayer-based role-playing game that sees you and and a group of budding ghost hunters embarking on a slew of paranormal investigations over a number of locations. With a myriad of haunted places to explore, you and your team can tool up and capture the unknown, using a variety of equipment to chronicle the afterlife and all its eerie wonders.
Of course, Phasmophobia is just as, if not slightly more terrifying than most single-player games on this list. And while documenting the dead as a team can provide some level of comfort, the simple fact is, ghost hunting, in general, is a scary pastime. And when the spirits you seek are predominantly demonic, it can make otherwise simple house tours feel somewhat mortifying. Still, it’s a journey worth taking if you enjoy team-based activities and scaring your friends senseless.
1. Brennenburg Castle (Amnesia: The Dark Descent)
Gothic architecture and mythology often go hand-in-hand, which makes the overall blueprint a recipe for success in the horror world. A perfect example of this would be Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a game that meshed the two together surprisingly well.
Castle Brennenburg, for what it’s worth, still flexes the power to make its visitors quake in their boots. The fact that every crag and crevice houses a roaming spirit or foul beast makes it one of the scariest places to explore, for sure. And, not to mention that its strewn with unsettling memoirs and scriptures and what have you. The point is, its dark and gloomy quarters are devilishly compelling. Problem is, you’ll struggle to want to make any second trips after managing to escape it the first time. That is, unless you don’t mind the feeling of dread and endless paranoia forever stalking you. It’s a matter of opinion, I suppose.