Halloween is the time of year for dressing up in spooky costumes and blackmailing your neighbors into giving you free candy. At least, it used to be. Now you’re older and your parents give you worried looks when you step out of the house wearing spiky blonde hair and a giant sword on your back. Your love of video games and the macabre continues to be thwarted by social norms - a 3DS is apparently unwelcome during a funeral - so what can you do to celebrate?
Here are a few ideas that won’t give you cavities.
Developers feel your pain. They want to celebrate Halloween just as much as you do, but they are stuck behind a desk for twelve hours a day trying to make sure you get your AAA shooter in time for stocking stuffers. To keep themselves sane - and the publishers happy - they’ve left a few treats for you this year.
Overwatch kicked off its inaugural Halloween Terror event earlier this month. Halloween-themed skins and emotes are a-plenty, along with a new four-player co-op experience (because no one should ever trick-or-treat alone). Pokemon GO has some new features that might just be enough to get us outside the house, too. Destiny players can expect the second annual Festival of the Lost to kick off October 25th, which will include new masks, quests, and dressing up your Ghost like a...well, ghost.
If you’re not a fan of first-person shooters, there are plenty of other events happening in the MMO space. World of Warcraft will have its Hallow’s End event and Final Fantasy XIV will celebrate via All Saints’ Wake. Who needs a Halloween party and social interaction when you can just log in and eat virtual candy from the comfort of your home?
If the idea of going out into the real world scares you more than anything and you have a lot of disposable income, then virtual reality might be up your Halloween alley. The release of the Playstation VR brought with it plenty of eerie virtual experiences. Fight your inexplicable fear of clowns with Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. Live out Batman's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with Arkham VR. Even Thumper manages to induce the kind of tension and stress usually reserved for family functions. Some might scoff and say that VR is nothing but a gimmick, and they are probably right. But you’ll get one last jump scare when that credit card bill arrives.
Sometimes virtual trick-or-treating is not enough. Sometimes your mom tells you the sun won't kill you and that you should go outside and talk to other, real people for once. If staying at home locked in your room is not an option, then how about going out and paying money to have yourself locked in a room with five complete strangers?
Escape rooms are a dime a dozen nowadays, and you don't have to be on a corporate retreat to enjoy one. The iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles is currently playing host to The Resident Evil Escape Room Experience until November 6th. Participants can re-live the most horrifying moments in Resident Evil history - the puzzles - in an attempt to escape before the timer runs out. Fans will get a kick of the various nods to Resident Evil's past - look, a typewriter! - and the sounds of the undead just beyond the door gave even this hardened veteran of survival horror a chill. Cooperation is essential; the overpriced souvenir T-shirts, however, are optional.
Video Game Horror Stories
Grab a flashlight, turn off the lights and gather round for some good ol’ spooky yarns. Whether it’s the urban legend about the hook-handed Gamestop employee or the haunted PlayStation 2 disc tray that mysteriously opens when no one is watching, everyone has a tale to tell of their video game bumps in the night. Give your friends a shudder as you describe the unspeakable horror that is Twitch chat. Send them screaming with the Tale of the Vanishing Save File.
For those brave enough, pile into the bathroom and say Gabe Newell’s name three times into the mirror. Some say they’ve seen the cover art for Half-Life 3 staring back at them, laughing as it morphs into a free-to-play MOBA. Now that’s scary.
Horror Video Game Marathon
Everyone has that low-key friend whom, every year around Halloween, turns into a spooky socialite. Parties are planned. Movie marathons are curated from their extensive collection of horror film DVDs. You look to the window to see if this transformation is at all related to the full moon. Instead of sitting through another viewing of John Carpenter’s The Thing with the feature-length commentary turned on, why not craft your own single-player marathon of the macabre?
Spend some time in Silent Hill. Play the new DOOM and relive the fading glory that is your adolescence. Bring some friends over for a playthrough of Until Dawn - “Is that the guy from Mr. Robot?” - and take turns sending teenagers to their doom. Halloween is a great time to clear the cobwebs from your gaming backlog. Just remember to end every session with a quick run through P.T.. Halloween is about respecting the dead, after all.