It’s Halloween so the team at Retro Dodo have decided to reflect on our favourite spooky games to coincide with the scariest day of the year.
Gaming and horror have often gone hand-in-hand with video games providing a level of fear unsurpassed by any other medium. Yes, lot’s of people have seen The Exorcist, but how many people have ever finished P.T?!
Spooky games come in all shapes and sizes from early 16-bit action games with terrifying artwork and sound design to survival horror games that became iconic back on the original PlayStation, and still resonate with players today.
These are the games that gave us goosebumps back in the day and still occasionally pop up in our cheese-fueled nightmares decades later.
So please, if you’re brave enough, join us as the Retro Dodo team reveal our favourite spooky games!
Table of Contents
Silent Hill – Rob Page, Video Producer
As much as I love the Resident Evil series, the crown for the scariest horror game franchise for me goes to Silent Hill. It’s probably an unpopular opinion, but my favourite game in the series is actually the first entry, released in 1999 on the original PlayStation.
Beyond the scary atmosphere provided by the foggy town and the constant oppressive darkness of the interior locations, the most unsettling thing about the game is the way it constantly throws you off guard with the way it alters elements of the environment to make you question your own sanity.
I’ll never forget the trick the game pulls on you in the hospital where an additional floor appears in the elevator after you’ve explored all of the other areas. You’re left wondering if it was there all along and you just missed it, or maybe the town itself is alive… Spooky!
P.T – Anthony Wallace, News Writer
One of my favorite gaming experiences of all time is quite suitable for the holiday. And it is one of the only video games to make me literally scream out loud. And that game is P.T.
If you’re lucky enough to still have this horror “demo” still installed on your PS4 like I do, now is a great time to relive it. A playthrough video with no commentary is a decent substitute.
A close second for me, and something on the total opposite end of the spectrum is Luigi’s Mansion 3. But my brother Seb is gonna remind you guys all about that perfect game.
Honorable mentions for games with a darker tone for Halloween would be Inside or Inmost for the Switch or PC. Two incredible gaming experiences with mild creeps.
Luigi’s Mansion – Seb Santabarbara, Editor In Chief
I was so excited for the release of Luigi’s Mansion on the GameCube that I would sit and read the same article in Nintendo Official Magazine over and over, just waiting for the GameCube to release.
I played this game to death (which is fitting as it’s all about ghosts), reveling in Luigi’s chance to take the limelight for once and marveling at how the haunted mansion felt like Big Boo’s Haunt turned all the way up to 11!
Chasing ghosts and sucking them up with the Poltergust 3000 was phenomenal, yet they always knew how to get the better of me and ended up taking my precious health through sneak attacks. You’ve never felt tension until you’ve got a big boss trying to crawl out of your vacuum!
Luigi’s expressions in this game will never leave me either; he’s terrified at every turn and skulks around more than Gollum, but he never backs down or runs away. He’s a true hero, even if he’d rather be at home in bed!
Zombies – Theo Litston, Content Writer
While I’m a self-professed scaredy cat, I still enjoy a bit of horror on occasion. I’ve been fascinated by the paranormal from an early age and while they give me the heebie-jeebies, I do like the odd (preferably silly) horror flick.
One of my favourite spooky games is one that pays homage to the greatest horror movies of all time. Zombies (or Zombies Ate My Neighbors if you live anywhere outside of Europe and Australia), pits teenagers Zeke and Julie against a whole raft of movie monsters.
The enemy variety in this 2D co-op shooter would make Boris Karloff moan with delight, with vampires, werewolves, aliens, giant ants, enormous babies and, of course, zombies, all vying for your blood.
Each of the 48 levels in Zombies saw you trying to rescue regular movie horror victim stereotypes such as cheerleaders, barbeque chefs and babies (the regular sized ones) from being devoured by the monsters.
The aesthetics of Zombies are bright and colourful and the gameplay is great fun but the shrieks from those cheerleaders I failed to save still haunt me to this day.
Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse – Brandon Saltalamacchia, Retro Dodo Founder
One retro game that I deem Spooky, not only because of the sheer weirdness of it but also due to how hard it is to complete is Mickey Mouse – Castle of Illusion.
Mickey has to enter the spooky castle in order to save Minnie Mouse, and in all honesty, I wish I gave up searching for her. The game had many challenging components to it, and a wide number of scary enemies, from Clowns to Goblins to Dragons!
The final boss “Mizrabel” is indeed dang right miserable to battle, featuring spinning undead ghosts all while dangling your beloved Minnie in the air.
As a kid, this is a game that I found incredibly challenging, and found myself handing levels over to adults to help me complete this hard, yet great SEGA Mega Drive game.
Altered Beast – Jacob Woodward, Content Writer
As someone who isn’t particularly a fan of horror games, or the whole genre in general (due to being a big baby…) there aren’t too many scary titles that I’m a huge fan of.
However, one retro game in particular that somewhat fits the bill to be played on a spooky Halloween night is Altered Beast, a game that I’ve played over and over.
If you aren’t familiar with this one, essentially you control an undead half-man, half-beast who has risen by the power of Zeus to fight against Neff.
It’s not the most widely praised game but I have so many fond memories of playing it through the Sega Mega Drive Collection on the PSP when travelling on long journeys.
It is quite difficult to get to grips with at first but once you get around the power ups and enemy types, it’s a really fun side scrolling beat ’em up that you should at least give a go.
Gregory Horror Show – Jason Brown, Retro Gaming Expert
Perhaps my favourite spooky game of all time is one that isn’t particularly widely known or even an obvious choice when you look at it: Capcom’s Gregory Horror Show on the PS2.
Sure, it’s got horror right there in the title, but this little-known game – based on an even more obscure, highly-stylised CGI anime series – looks charming, even daft, in its surreal, almost cubist-style aesthetic. That’s where you’d be wrong.
Gregory Horror Show is a proper survival horror game, with an array of jump scares and disturbing scenes.
Cast as a visitor to Gregory’s hotel – which is, essentially, a purgatorial stopover to the afterlife – you’ll sneak around the establishment trying to steal bottled souls from guests and returning them to Death himself.
If you’re caught by the anthropomorphic rat, Gregory, you’ll be subjected to the titular ‘horror shows’ – scenes of violence that drain your ‘mental health’ gauge.
It’s a surprisingly effective game of stealth and genuine scares, dressed up in a surreal, cartoonish aesthetic style that’s aged surprisingly well.
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Theo first fell in love with gaming when he sped through Green Hill Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog back in 1991. Theo has previously provided reviews, news coverage and articles for The Games Cabin and enjoyed producing comedic Let’s Plays on his own personal YouTube channels.
A huge Kingdom Hearts and Metal Gear fan, Theo enjoys deep gameplay mechanics and complex storylines. A completionist by nature, Theo has earned over 140 platinum trophies including top digital trinkets for Stardew Valley, The Witness, Bloodborne and a plethora of GTA games.
Outside of gaming, Theo can often be found riding his motorbike, headbanging at gigs or out in the countryside exploring nature and marvelling at the ‘realistic graphics’.