12 new horror games this Halloween

Horror games to play this Halloween season

A look at every horror-themed video game coming out this Halloween season including new downloadable content for big name franchises like Red Dead: Redemption: Undead Nightmares and lesser-known games like Rock of the Dead, which combines rhythm-based guitar strumming with killing zombies.

We're well into October, which mean fans of survival-horror and games that generally indulge in the macabre will have plenty to play in the next coming weeks. In the spirit of Halloween, the following roundup features a dozen new video games in order of release date, including titles recently released and coming soon.

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Click here for more screens of Alan Wake: The Writer.

Alan Wake: The Writer

• (Xbox Live)


Developer: Remedy
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: Available now
Metacritic Rating: 83% (for Alan Wake)

As one of the most suspenseful and serial-influenced stories of 2010, Remedy could have taken a cue from television and drawn out Alan Wake's narrative to the point of frustration amongst its audience (cough LOSTcough). Thankfully, the new DLC, “The Writer” promises to provide a fair amount of closure to the dark world created from the writings of a disturbed author. New characters, settings, and story elements set in the immersive world of Alan Wake should already be a major draw for fans of the franchise, but knowing the narrative will reach its conclusion at the end of “The Writer” should get a few frustrated Wakers to hop back into the game's story.

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Click here for more screens of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

• (Xbox 360, PS3)


Developer: MercurySteam, Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: Available now
Metacritic Rating: 86%

3D adaptations of Konami's Castlevania franchise have seen a somewhat checkered past, with previous efforts ranging from the admirable, if flawed (Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, PS2) to the inherently broken (Castlevania, N64), to the new Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, a gritty action-oriented reboot of the iconic side-scrolling series for the HD-generation. In Lords of Shadow, players step into the whip-cracking boots of Gabriel Belmont — elite holy knight and sentinel of the Brotherhood of Light — as he sets out on a quest to banish the eponymous Lords of Shadow, and avenge his felled wife. Lords of Shadow's seen generally positive reviews since its release, with many outlets praising its expansive scale (90/100 in Official Xbox Magazine), where some have criticized the game's overly familiar gameplay mechanics and linear mission structure (75/100 on GameSpot, 3/5 on GamePro).

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Click here for more screens of Dead Rising 2.

Dead Rising 2

• (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)


Developer: Blue Castle Games
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Available now
Metacritic Rating: 80%

It may have taken over four years and a bizarre Japan-Canada development bond, but Dead Rising fever's finally had another outbreak. By giving the players more of what they loved in the original Dead Rising(thousands of zombies, hundreds of weapons, and dozens of locales to find both within), while excising the few things that annoyed detractors (like the restrictive save system and annoying allies), Dead Rising 2 provides one of the best horror experiences of the year. With Resident Evil and Left 4 Dead's last sequels failing to live up to their predecessors, we could be seeing the new king of zombie franchises in the form of Dead Rising 2.

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Click here for more screens of Hydrophobia.

Hydrophobia

• (Xbox Live Arcade)


Developer: Dark Energy Digital
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: Available now
Metacritic Rating: 60%

Developed by UK-based Dark Energy Digital (a studio formed by designers previously known for making pool and snooker games), Hydrophobia's a survival-horror game where — as its name suggests — water is one of the game's main obstacles. Set during the mid 21st century after a devastating flood nearly drowns the human race, Hydrophobia places you in the role of Kate, a female systems engineer who works on a “city-sized” ocean vessel named the Queen of the World. Kate's caught in the middle of a crisis after terrorists who call themselves the Malthusians and live by the motto “save the world, kill yourself,” attack the ship. Absurd premise aside, Hydrophobia received mixed reviews ranging from abysmal (30/100 in Edge Magazine) to extremely positive (90/100 in Official Xbox Magazine, 80/100 on IGN), with some critics praising the game's realistic water effects afforded by the HydroEngine.

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Click here for more screens of Left 4 Dead: The Sacrifice.

Left 4 Dead: The Sacrifice

• (Xbox Live, Steam for PC/Mac)


Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher: Valve
Release Date: Available now
Metacritic Rating: 89% (for Left 4 Dead 2)

One of the most effective scenes in any horror movie is when one brave victim stands his ground as the menace approaches, telling the others, “I've got this. Go on without me.” Then his or her compatriots say something to effect of “No, [hero's name], we're in this together.” Then the badass protagonist says “Do you want us all to die?! Dammit, run!” Unfortunately, said scenario never really plays out in video games, as few titles mean to force death on any of its players. Valve is changing that with “The Sacrifice” — the dual title DLC for Left 4 Dead and its sequel. While purchasers of Left 4 Dead 2's DLC, “The Passing” encountered the original game's cast, minus one unlucky ex-survivor, “The Sacrifice” allows you to see the events that caused a character to pay the ultimate price for the good of the group. Unlike the canon character that bit the dust in the last DLC, the departed character will be up to you (and the group). Should make for some interesting player chat.

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Click here for more screens of Fallout: New Vegas.

Fallout: New Vegas

• (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)


Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: October 19

It's not quite a “horror” game or Fallout 4, but this follow-up to 2008's open-world post-apocalyptic RPG sees Obsidian Entertainment, a team composed largely of ex-Black Isle (Fallout, Fallout 2) employees, taking over developing duties from the folks at Bethesda for a new wasteland adventure. Picking up three years after the volatile events of Fallout 3, New Vegas trades the once-regal ruined Capital Wastelands for the radiation-soaked badlands of Sin City, following a brand new narrative of betrayal, questionable loyalties, and attempted murder. New Vegas runs off the same engine as Fallout 3, but comes packed with a host of new flourishes — including the aptly named “Hardcore” mode, which restricts particularly masochistic players' health, ammo, and provisions to create a more realistic, intense experience.

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Rock of the Dead

• (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii)


Developer: Epicenter Studios
Publisher: Conspiracy Entertainment and UFO Interactive
Release Date: October 19

Epicenter Studios' Rock of the Dead combines rhythm-based guitar strumming with killing zombies — think Guitar Hero meets The House of the Dead. To make things even stranger, the protagonist's voiced by none other than Doogie Howser, AKA Neil Patrick Harris, whose love interest is voiced by The Guild's Felicia Day. Hard rock musician and horror movie director Rob Zombie also provides music for the game. While Rock of the Dead doesn't exactly scream “Triple A,” it takes a fresh approach to the music genre by allowing players to have a real objective (avoiding becoming a buffet for zombies) to hitting those notes quickly and accurately.

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