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2017 Basketball Special Issue -

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Author Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses how history and humanity is remembered -

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Veteran belonging and the decline of American communities discussed by journalist and author at Amherst College -

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UMass women’s basketball heads to North Dakota for two games -

November 15, 2017

Essential horror games for Halloween

(Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Official Facebook Page)

Video games provide a different kind of horror experience. While movies and television bring the viewer into their worlds, the player becomes a part of a video game’s world. Horror games come in a variety of odd forms—from the psychological horror of “Silent Hill” to the moody action of “Dead Space,” video games carve a niche in the horror genre to fully explore other mediums.

The following are some excellent video games to immerse oneself in for Halloween, and there’s plenty of reasons why. These games are limited to the last two console generations and PC.

“Dead Space” (PS3, Xbox 360, PC. Released: 2008)

Developed by the recently shuttered Visceral Games, this survival action game places players in control of Isaac Clarke, an engineer, who must use makeshift weaponry to discover the mysterious circumstances that left a spaceship infested with aliens. The game’s minimal heads-up display, intense action and thick atmosphere give it a unique feel. Full of jump scares and mind games, this 12-hour game delivers a punch. Also try: “Alan Wake.

“Amnesia: The Dark Descent” (PC, Mac, PS4. Released: 2010)

Frictional Games’ brooding first-person horror game relies on a unique ‘sanity’ system to explore a different kind of horror. Players are left with no way to fight the nightmares that inhabit the darkness, and a flickering light source is all there is to manage the player’s sanity. A frightening experience from start to finish, “Amnesia” is a bona fide classic that has inspired a host of other horror games in its wake. Also try: “Outlast.”

“Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” (PC, PS4, Xbox One. Released: 2017)

The latest game in the venerable horror franchise moves player perspective into the first person. “Resident Evil 7” re-centers the franchise to focus on horror and survival, and relies on an air of dread to pull it all off. As Ethan Winters searches for his wife, he ends up stuck on the estate of the Baker family. The tight, claustrophobic environment of the Baker estate furthers the game’s horror experience. It’s up to players to uncover what’s really going on, and to get out alive. “Resident Evil 7” is also the first game in the series to support virtual reality, and is fully playable via the PSVR. Also try: “Resident Evil 2,” “4.”

“Until Dawn” (PS4. Released: 2015)

The Supermassive Games-developed horror adventure game “Until Dawn” brings the most well-known tropes of a “teenage horror movie” into the interactive realm. For anybody who has said, “I would never do that” when watching a horror movie, this is for you to test yourself. The seven-person main cast, who  are all controllable at different points during the game, fills every character trope you would expect. The game’s signature “butterfly effect” system means that any choice a player makes can—and often does—introduce consequences for their actions. It is best enjoyed with a group of friends where each person is assigned a character in the game and makes decisions for that character throughout the story. The acting, ‘butterfly effect’ system and engaging story coalesce into a worthwhile horror experience for anybody. Also try: “Heavy Rain.”

Oxenfree” (PS4, PC, Switch, Mac, iOS, Android. Released 2016)

This indie gem from Night School Studios relies on supernatural forces and an organic dialogue system to share its world with the player. Speaking of, players control Alex, who, along with her new step-brother and some friends, is hanging out on an abandoned island when something goes terribly awry. The mysterious horror, foreboding atmosphere and jump-worthy scares will keep players engrossed. The game’s enchanting art style and wonderfully voice-acted dialogue help it stand out from the pack. Rarely is a game about talking to other teenagers, being quizzed by ghosts and trying to find a good radio signal as good as “Oxenfree.” Also try: “Inside.” 

“Alien: Isolation” (PC, Mac, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One. Released 2014)  

Set in Ridley Scott’s “Alien” universe, “Isolation” puts players in the shoes of Amanda Ripley, daughter of “Alien” heroine Ellen Ripley. The first-person adventure pits players, as Ripley, against a terrifyingly intelligent Xenomorph on a spaceship reminiscent of the first movie’s Nostromo. “Isolation” features a praised artificial intelligence system for the Alien enemy, causing every encounter to be different than any other. The way the game is played ‘teaches’ the Alien more, making it more deadly as the game progresses. A high-watermark for AI, horror and atmosphere, “Isolation” is a love letter to the franchise it was spawned from, and captures the tension of that first movie incredibly well. Also try:Prey.”

Turn the lights off and get ready to get scared. These are some of the most essential horror games to play.

Matt Leonard can be reached at mcleonard@umass.edu.

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