A PS4 exclusive, Until Dawn is both a send-up and a celebration of classic teen slasher flicks. The player intermittently controls eight friends staying in a secluded cabin on a snowy mountain peak, where two sisters of the group disappeared the year before (of course) and it's within screaming distance of an abandoned mental asylum and a deserted mine. This is no FPS though ”” it's a story-driven adventure wherein difficult moral choices and split-second, quicktime actions mean the difference between life and gruesome death for each of your protagonists. Lose one, and the game just keeps on going without them.
There have been many games based on the Aliens franchise over the years, and pretty much every single one has failed to capture the wonder and terror of the (first two) movies. But Alien: Isolation comes damn close, pitting you against a single xenomorph that you cannot fight or kill, but only run and hide from in order to stay alive. The creature stalks your avatar, Amanda Ripley, daughter of Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley, as she searches a suitably creepy space station for clues to her lost mother's whereabouts.
Everything from the sound design to the claustrophobic hallways to the eighties-style, text-based computers are ripped right from the films, giving it an authentic, nostalgic feel that will give goose bumps to any Aliens fan. And when that xenomorph pops out of a grate and eviscerates you with its retractable jaws, you will jump out of your seat.
Okay, this one isn't really a horror game, but I thought I should include a game for those who prefer the lighter, playful side of spooky. Grim Fandango is a classic LucasArts graphic adventure from the nineties, which has recently been made available on the PS4 and PC with remastered visuals. It's characters and environments are based on themesfromthe Mexican Day of the Dead. You play as the skeletal Manny Cavalera, a travel agent who sells packages to the newly deceased in order to expedite their journey to paradise. When Manny discovers that there is corruption in his ranks, he races to save the fetching, but also skeletal, Mercedes Colomar from a harrowing trek she shouldn't have had to take in the first place. Packed with excitement and humor, Manny's adventure is a memorable one.
The first Resident Evil: Revelations was a 3DS exclusive that was such a hit, it was released for all other systems. The reason for its popularity is that it hearkens back to the days of old for the Resident Evil series, when it was a true survival horror, forcing the player down dark, tight corridors with no room for escape from threats, armed with limited ammo to face them.
The sequel, released in episodic form, takes that winning formula and expands on it, placing the playable characters on a creepy island, where a witch-like big bad is performing horrific experiments on people, including you. The game also ups the ante by putting you in control of two protagonists at a time, only one of which can use firearms. For those who enjoy fighting to survive against monstrous, superior forces, this one's the one.
The latest from Frictional Games, the twisted minds behind the uber-scary Amnesia: The Dark Descent, SOMA is a bit more cerebral in its scares, if that's up your alley. Taking place in a research facility under the sea that's been overrun by an A.I., the game is one of exploration, where you search to find answers as to what's really happened. Like Alien: Isolation, there is no way to defend yourself against the "monsters," other than to run and hide. It's really the story that's the star of this game, so if you value smart sci-fi and clever twists, don't hesitate to pick it up.
Another mind-bender of an adventure, Ethan Carter puts you into the shoes of a paranormal investigator exploring a small coastal town in search of a missing boy. Your task isn't to fight, but to piece together crime scenes using your extraordinary gifts. To say anything about the plot is to give too much of this exceptional story away; suffice it to say, things take on a supernatural bent of a Lovecraftian nature. So if you enjoy cosmic horror and cults, this one is definitely the one for you.