In some ways video games have the ability to immerse us in a scary world better than any movie ever could.
As the holidays usually give us time away from our jobs, and duties, why not use some of that downtime to turn down the lights and immerse yourself in one of the scary picks below.
I've raved about this little fun gem HERE but here's the gist:
your brother (or sister depending on how you play) gets kidnapped by monsters on Halloween. You and your friends get together to save her/him. Your costume has different fighting abilities depending on what you're wearing. Example: a cardboard robot costume becomes a giant mech capable of delivering a missile assault... a homemade knight costume (complete with trash can lid 'shield') becomes a giant broadsword, etc.
You fight in turn-based combat all the while collecting stickers (which give powerups), complete mini-games (like bobbing for apples) to gain candy (which acts as currency), and collect new costumes with new powers.
Also: There's a 2nd downloadable level "Grubbins on Ice" that pits the kids against the evil grubbins in an ice and snow environment. It even has three new costumes with new powers to acquire and use.
Bottom line: this game is super-cute but totally fun. It's virtual trick-or-treating with an adventure story and clever funny writing. Available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.
For the casual gamer with a smart phone or iPad, I can't recommend Angry Birds: Seasons enough (see my previous post HERE).
You get constant holiday updates (Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, etc.) for FREE after getting the app and the Halloween 2012 update is already available with new black exploding pumpkins and a new orange bird that inflates like a puffer fish.
Angry Birds is addicting and whole lot of fun.
I don't mind waiting in holiday lines now because I get to play a 60 second level or two before I reach the register. In fact... I'm starting to seek out lines to stand in just so I can play.
I have a problem.
You play as Alan Wake, a best-selling horror novelist (-cough- Stephen King -cough), who ventures to a small lake-side town.
As he works on his new book, Alan realizes that what's being put on paper is starting to happen in real life.
A completely atmospheric sandbox game that has scares and an unraveling mystery.
Available for Xbox on Amazon HERE.
4) PINBALL FX2
Though arcades and pinball are sadly fading into the past, current generation video game systems are embracing them in realistic play with virtual bells and whistles that would make a physical table impossible. Pinball FX2 is the best pinball you're going to find at home.
The program itself is a free download that allows you test-play certain tables. Then you pay for what tables you want to play.
For tables with eerie themes, check out the Ouija board-themed Paranormal (mentioned HERE), Nightmare Mansion (with spooky ghost bumpers and glowing eye-ramps), and even Marvel Comics-themed tables featuring darker characters Ghost Rider, Blade and Moon Knight.
Why Mortal Kombat?
Well if you like your fighters gory, this is the place. Not only are there the series-defining fatalities, but you also get X-Ray moves that deliver bone-crunching blows in see-through cut-scenes.
But in a licensing stroke of brilliance, you can now pay to download extra fighters including --drum roll please-- FREDDY KRUEGER.
That's right, Mr. Nightmare on Elm Street himself sports TWO bladed gloves (hey, why not?) and will face off against the other ninjas, robots and monsters the MK world has to offer.
I can say that, as a guy who's been playing this series for over 20 years now (seriously?!), this reboot of the franchise is one of the best fighting games ever made.
Available for both Xbox and PS3 HERE on Amazon.
Red Dead Redemption was hailed as video game triumph last year. Rockstar Games (makers of the Grand Theft Auto series) delivered a sandbox game in an old west setting and not only was it loads of fun to play, but it delivered an experience that gamers still talk about today.
But if fighting bandits and train robbers ain't enough how about turning that world on its head... and making it alllll DEAD.
Undead Nightmare puts zombies squarely in the same world and gives you new tasks and goals.
Available for either Xbox or PS3 as a download or as a stand-alone game through Amazon HERE.
Take Event Horizon and cross it with Alien, with some The Thing (1982) sauce. Then sprinkle some Doom (the game, not the movie) in there for good measure... then start changing your pants.
Deadspace 2 puts you in the shoes of Isaac Clarke one more time, in space... where necromorphs (they're as horrible as they sound) are out to get you.
This game scared me. It literally made me jump and vocalize "AGH!"
For Xbox or PS3 on Amazon HERE.
I hate typing out titles with numbers "cleverly" used as letters. FEAR 3 takes the first-person shooter and adds a layer of survival horror to it and overall it works pretty well.
Also worth noting is that horror-movie maestro John Carpenter acted as a consultant on F3AR (see? corny with the number).
Available on Xbox and PS3 HERE.
Zombies aren't going away anytime soon and here's the latest incarnation in video game form: DEAD ISLAND.
After a beautiful trailer (which you can and SHOULD watch HERE) it's almost as if the game couldn't live up to the hype.
Quick and dirty: you're on an island. There are zombies. You'll fight to live. You can make weapons from various things.
SUPER PLUS: a friend can join in your game AT ANY TIME so you can both battle to survive together.
But seriously, that original trailer was really something.
Even if you're not a video game player, watch the thing HERE. It's freakin' art. It'll make you cry.
Buy the game for Xbox and PS3 HERE on Amazon.
This ain't yo' daddy's Alice in Wonderland.
Nightmarish. Demented. Twisted.
Alice carries a kitchen knife.
The minions of the Red Queen are out to get you.
The Cheshire Cat is not to be trusted.
Available for PC, Xbox and PS3. Go HERE to purchase.