Boo! Apologies, it’s Hallowe’en, so we couldn’t resist sending a shiver down your spine. With the spookiest day in the Gregorian calendar very much upon us, we figured that it was a perfect opportunity to position the courageous Push Square team around a fierce camp fire, and force them to share some short stories regarding their favourite, frightful PlayStation games. This isn’t a one-sided coven, though, as we want your input, too. Cast a light upon your facial features, and let’s scare each other into submission.
Sammy Barker, Editor
I’m a big fan of the idea of horror games, but I often don’t enjoy the way that they play. As I’ve likely alluded in previous articles, I’ve grown out of games with severe difficulty spikes – and horror games tend to make you feel useless in order to increase tension. One game that I’m willing to forgive this trait, though, is Siren: Blood Curse. This is a PlayStation 3 re-imagining of Silent Hill director Keiichiro Toyama’s first-party PlayStation 2 favourite, and while it’s a nightmare to control, few games have the same sense of atmosphere. A stealth adventure in essence, the title’s chief mechanic allows you to see through the eyes of the release’s antagonists – zombie-like beings known as Shibito – culminating in some incredibly anxious encounters. Hiding in a closet is one thing, but knowing that your deadly pursuer is staring directly at you while you struggle to remain silent is one of the most invigorating moments in gaming. I’d love a sequel on the PS4, but it seems that Team Siren has been disbanded in favour of Team Gravity. Oh well...
Robert Ramsey, Associate Editor
I always find myself going back to Red Dead Redemption's spooky Undead Nightmare expansion right around Hallowe’en. Zombies may be horribly overused these days, but there's something incredibly creepy about riding across the game's barren wilderness as you spot the occasional shuffler off in the distance. And if I want a real scare, I can always venture into the forest to hunt down some decomposing grizzly bears. Shudder.
Katy Ellis, Assistant Editor
DmC: Devil May Cry is scary. No, really – hear me out. I don't 'do' horror games – I still haven't picked up The Last of Us despite hyping it for months. I think it's my active imagination that caused me to throw my PlayStation 2 copy of Project Zero: Crimson Butterfly out of the window on the first sighting of a creepy Japanese girl resembling the one in The Ring. However, Ninja Theory’s aforementioned reboot can be seriously freaky at points. My heart literally thuds like an uncontrollable washing machine whenever a voice screeches "KILL DANTE", and I'm pretty sure I hold my breath throughout every encounter with a Frost Knight and his demonic buddies. Alright, so it's not jump-out-of-your-seat scary, but it has a witch in it, so there.
Greg Giddens, Reviews Editor
My first horror game is what sticks with me the most, as it genuinely scared me. There was a sequence within the first 15 minutes of play that filled my heart with dread and tainted my dreams for several nights following. It was a cutscene in Resident Evil: Directors Cut of a zombie turning from its human meal and facing me. Sitting in the dark of my bedroom, far too close to the television, this stare caused me to freeze, and as the cutscene ended and I regained control of Jill Valentine, I desperately fought to raise my weapon, fumbling the controller as I tried to aim my gun. But I had so few bullets that it killed me.
Of course I couldn't just start again. I instead went downstairs to spend time with my family. I decided to wait until morning before I tackled anymore undead. This was one day after I had received my PSone for Christmas. Moving from a Mega Drive to Sony's machine was a huge step up, and never before had I played a game like this in the past. I'd never expected this kind of horrific experience. It was a terrifying and remarkable realisation – games were finally capable of sending a shiver down my spine. Oh to be young again...
Ben Potter, Video Editor
I've always been very up front with the fact that I'm a massive scaredy cat. I still find the Dead Spaces and Amnesias of the world too daunting a task to tackle, but when I was younger I was far easier to spook. You know the start of Final Fantasy VII where Aerith is walking around central Midgar doing flower stuff with eerie music playing? That single, thoroughly unscary moment was enough to put me off the game for months.
Somewhere between then and now, I fell in love with the TimeSplitters games, the second being my personal favourite. Gamers laud the series for its frantic multiplayer action and tight shooting mechanics, and while these were admittedly standout points, I really enjoyed the single player campaign as well. A staple of the first-person series is zombies, and there's always one or two levels dedicated to them – this would be my downfall.
Needless to say, the undead themed Notre Dame level haunted me for weeks. The slow, shuffling dead occupied my thoughts, haunted my dreams, and lurked under every bed, in every shadow and behind every door. I've always been a coward when it comes to horror – less so now than I was growing up – but that one game, and that one level in particular, sticks out in my mind as one of the most single-handedly terrifying things that I've ever played.
Jamie O’Neill, Retro Editor
I'm going to bleach my hair blonde, slick it back, and wear dark sunglasses even during night-time for this feature. You see, we were asked to choose one favourite spooky game, but like a shifty Albert Wesker, I'm going to sneak my way into picking one for each PlayStation generation. The horror, the horror.
My perilous PS3 pick is this year's The Last of Us. Journeying across America, with the natural beauty of each seasonal landscape, but persisting past the twists-and-turns of each unpredictable shock, make it my game of 2013. My second choice is Resident Evil 4, for shaking up the third-person survival horror genre in 2005. It also pushed the supposedly creaky PS2 hardware with an admirable conversion, which included extra trimmings. Finally, I select the vampiric Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It has a grand Gothic side-scrolling grace, and it's my favourite game from the entire PSone catalogue.
Nathan Michalik, Staff Writer
Back when I first got my PS3, I bought F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin on a whim because I had found it for $5 in a bargain bin. I was still in college living alone in a poorly lit single bedroom dorm room. Alma didn't need any help, but the combination of my dingy surrounding and the 'next-gen' graphics was more than enough to scare me into switching on a light or two. While the sequel F.E.A.R. 3 didn't adopt the same terrifying atmosphere or experience, the F.E.A.R. franchise will always be my go-to series for a good scare.
Stop chattering your teeth and join in on the fun. What do you think is the spookiest PlayStation game? What are you going to scare yourself silly with tonight? Shout and scream in the comments section below.