From the dawn of video games, one element has been certain, you are guaranteed to have some assortment of spooky (or “spoopy”) segments to change the pace, add some needed tension, or traumatise the subconscious of thousands of children the world over with something unsettling. Whether that be a ravenous sentient piano launching itself across a room to take a bite of the player, or a horrifying zombie-like creature attaching itself to you and screaming to freeze the player in terror – everyone has that moment where a video game has thrust you into a spiral of fear and fright.
Of course, there are games designed to unnerve, thrillers and horrors thrive on the ability to create tension with their ambience, soundtracks and settings. Silent Hill relishes on its atmosphere, a foggy town full of monsters and an unsettling feeling of the uncanny at every turn. Truly anything could come out from the dense fog and running through the streets with that unknown enlists a thrill inside you similar to watching a horror movie. Horror, in my opinion, is at its best within gaming, whilst watching or reading horror you do tend to self insert into a situation, but a lot of time is spent pondering why characters would behave in a particular way to the extent that it can be frustrating. Add that to its over-reliance on jump scares and played out tropes, horror movies can only take you so far into the world its attempting to convey.
With an interactive medium like gaming, whether that be in VR or sat at your couch, you are typically immersed into the world, you are controlling and pushing the narrative, each movement is your own and the moment to moment decisions that depend on your survival are all controller by you, the player. This in turn makes horror games a step above static media, as immersion is centre stage and the impact of jump scares and the tension caused by uncertainty are fully controller by you.
Of course, scares and horrors are not the only element of Halloween, we also have the loveable spoopy levels that a lot of Halloween enjoyers adore, from Subcon Forest, Lavender Town and Big Boo’s Haunt to Luigi’s Mansion and Pumpkin Hill, these ghost infested places bring a more cutesy and vibrant but still uneasy vibe and a change of pace to games that otherwise have no spooky vibes whatsoever. But typically, these stages bring more of mystery that immerses the player into discovering its secrets, and helps to capture the imagination of all that enter these magical worlds. Having the ghosts appear randomly in the Old Chateau in Pokémon Platinum or that dastardly piano in Big Boo’s Haunt had children talking about the games, trying out tricks at night for the full immersion of wanting a tiny thrill from their otherwise tame experience.
I fully believe that people love to return to their favourite ghostly games and levels around this time of year to get that thrill of being a curious child again, whether that be walking the halls of Luigi’s Mansion sucking up ghosts or traveling through the nightmares of children in 40 Winks, there is something for everyone to come back to and get into that Halloween Spirit.
Happy Halloween to everyone from all of us at Underlevelled!
Video game completionist and 3D platformer connoisseur, Riley is a fan of the whimsical frenzy of bright and colourful characters to bless us in the late 90's. Their favourite game's are Spyro, Persona 5 and Super Mario Sunshine.