For the most part video games avoid talking about major holidays. When was the last time you played a game that revolved around Valentine's Day or Labor Day? From time to time we'll play a game that has something to do with Christmas, but that's generally because the holiday season is when most games are released. While the video game industry may not give a lot of love to Arbor Day or President's Day, there is one day of the year that just about every gamer can get behind. That day is Halloween.
While most games don't specifically call out Halloween, there's no denying that over the last ten years horror games have become one of the most prolific (and in some cases influential) genres. Ten years ago we were all impressed with what Capcom was able to do with Resident Evil, and ever since then we've had several major horror games a year. For obvious reasons a lot of these games come out just in time for Halloween, so excuse us from jumping to the conclusion that this phenomenon has something to do with the holiday season. Unfortunately not every Halloween game is scary; in fact, some lack any scares what so ever. On this Halloween we've decided to help you avoid some of those un-scary scary games so that you can find something that really frightens you as the sun goes down and all of the kids are trick or treating. If you're looking for something genuinely scary to sooth your appetite for ghouls and ghosts I recommend you stay far away from these ten games.
Resident Evil 4
I already know what you're thinking: "But isn't Resident Evil one of the scariest franchises out there?" If that was your thought (and let's face it, it probably was) then you're absolutely right, as a franchise Resident Evil is in the top tier of scary video games. But just because Resident Evil 1 - 3 were scary as hell (especially that GameCube Resident Evil remake), that doesn't
mean that Resident Evil 4 has to follow the tradition. Make no mistake about it, Resident Evil 4 is still one of the greatest games of all time, but if somebody says that it's as scary as Resident Evil 1 - 3 then you might as well point at them and call them a liar.
Anybody that has played Resident Evil 4 already knows that Capcom changed a lot of things when it came to this 2005 installment. Gone was the scary mansion full of the walking dead. Gone was the terrible control scheme that plagued every Resident Evil game before it. Gone was the tedious task of looking for more bullets. And, most importantly, gone were the zombies that made Resident Evil what it was. Unfortunately by taking out those elements (and turning it into more of a fast-paced action game) the game's scary atmosphere was lost. That's not to say that there aren't a few scares to be found from time to time (such as that guy with the burlap sack on his head and a penchant to use his chainsaw on your neck), but anybody going into Resident Evil 4 expecting the same kind of scares found in the other installments will surely be disappointed. Thankfully the lack of genuine scares didn't take away from the quality of the game; however it would be nice to see the next Resident Evil title inject more of the horror into its veins.
Making a good horror game takes a real talent. Just ask Capcom and Konami, two companies that have managed to churn out sequel after sequel of high quality games with real scares. Unfortunately not every company can be as consistent as the makers of Resident Evil and Silent Hill. In fact, some companies can get it so wrong that you will never see them attempt the genre ever again. One of those companies is Nintendo, who tried extremely hard to develop
a creepy game featuring a familiar sidekick and his trusty ... vacuum? Okay, look, it's bad enough that Luigi's Mansion was a disappointing action game, but nothing good ever comes out of a vacuum weapon. Don't believe me? Perhaps you should try playing through Blinx: The Time Sweeper and Ape Escape. Granted, the Ghostbusters used a ghost catcher that acted like a vacuum ... but there was science behind that device. I'm talking about real science, people.
Perhaps the scariest part of Luigi's Mansion has nothing to do with the actual gameplay. Instead I'm more afraid that Nintendo really thought that this half-assed Luigi game was a suitable replacement for a brand new Mario game. Let's be perfectly clear about the way Nintendo works, before the GameCube every console Big "N" made was launched with a Mario title. The NES had Super Mario Bros., you had Super Mario Land on the Game Boy, the Super NES had Super Mario World, and who could forget Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64? Heck, even the Virtual Boy launched with a Mario game. Yet Nintendo decided to buck that trend and give us this terrible Luigi game instead? Clearly Nintendo misunderstood what Nintendo fanboys wanted, which is clear by the fact that we have yet to hear even a hint of a Luigi's Mansion sequel.
Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse
There are a lot of people out there that love Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse. Heck, I consider myself to be one of those people who fell under Stubb's spell. It's easy to see why so many people respect Stubbs when you look at the people that developed it (including Bungie founder, Alexander Seropian) and its great sense of humor. I would even go one step further and say that the soundtrack (which features contemporary bands playing songs
from fifty years ago) is one of the best I've ever heard in a game. But there's one thing that every one of those Stubbs fans can agree on: It's not very scary. The game is a solid action game with a great sense of humor, but you would be hard pressed to explain what was scary about the title.
The one scary thing that came out of Stubbs the Zombie was when the U.S. politicians tried to make an issue out of this quirky little game. Back in 2005 several elected officials decided that it was about time to tackle the hot button issue of cannibalism in video games. That's right; there were actually politicians that stood up in front of their peers and railed against the idea that our kids could be learning that the taste of human flesh is good. No joke. The two games they used to highlight this growing epidemic were F.E.A.R. and Stubbs the Zombie. But Stubbs is a, well, zombie ... it says so right in the name of the game. Can you really be a cannibal if you're a zombie crazing brains? If you didn't know that the person was eating yummy human flesh then you might have a case, but since a zombie is no longer a human, I cease to understand how it can be a cannibal. Perhaps the politicians were under the assumption that Stubbs was trying to eat zombie flesh. But even then, who cares if a fictional character is eating another fictional character? What's next, a bill outlawing unicorn fights?
So let me get this right, after years of worrying about regular sized vampires now I'm expected to be scared of Dracula as a kid? Oh give me a break; I'm more scared of the Creature From the
Black Lagoon's kid than I am Kid Dracula. Let's face facts here, there's a good chance that Kid Dracula won't even care about killing innocent women and the men investigating those murders. He's too busy playing video games and demanding more ice cream. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if Kid Dracula starts attacking some of his favorite celebrities, turning them into Dark Barnie, Bob the Coffin Builder, and Vampire High School Musical. And you know what? As far as I'm concerned each of those would benefit from a little neck sucking ... they already suck as it is.
But all joking aside, Kid Dracula is a real game with no real scares. Made by Konami, Kid Dracula is a human-vampire hybrid (spawned from a human woman and Dracula himself) who attempts to right the wrongs of his father. Wait ... isn't that the story of Alucard from the Castlevania series? While some call this a comic take on the Castlevania series, I just say that this is a terribly fright-free scary game. Just because you set out to make a comedy doesn't mean you have to lose everything that makes your game scary, I would argue that a movie like Shaun of the Dead is actually more entertaining because it's a comedy-laced horror film. But video games just aren't up to the task of doing both comedy and horror at the same time. Heck, they aren't even up to the task of doing comedy, so expecting them to merge those two genres is like expecting Carlos Mencia to be funny. It's just not going to happen.
I don't think it's unfair to expect a few genuine scares from Manhunt 2. After all, Rockstar Games' first Manhunt managed to capture the mood and atmosphere of a gritty horror movie. Unfortunately Manhunt 2 feels more like a very gross action game, rather than the truly horrific video game experience
we were expecting. Instead of a cast of grotesque enemies to take down, Daniel Lamb, the "hero" in this ultra-violent sequel, is forced to kill angry rent-a-cops, evil doctors and FBI agents that drive Hummers. I'll give you that an evil doctor is not the kind of guy you want to meet in a dark alley, but compared to what we saw in the first game he might as well be the Easter Bunny.
Oddly enough the scares (or lack thereof) have nothing to do with the severe editing Rockstar Games did to get this game down to an M-rating. Had this game been released in all its gory glory we still would have featured it on this list of the least scary horror games. Of course, it doesn't help that the most disturbing kills are covered up with blurs and a strange psychotic filter that does nothing but hurt your eyes. The real scares of the first Manhunt had nothing to do with the grotesque killing, it was the atmosphere and how you went from one shadowy area to another hoping not to get caught. That feeling you have when you walk around a corner and there's a guy with a big smiley face mask looking at you is unlike anything you will ever experience in a video game. Sadly there's none of that in Manhunt 2, instead you get a competent (although not great) action game full of fun stealth kills.