Halloween's over, but for the horror fanatics among us, that's no reason to put away your copies of Undying or Scratches. Although horror games are all too frequently squandered with sub-par execution, gaming offers a unique opportunity for true scares that books and movies can't match, because it puts you in the driver's seat. It's all happening to you, and not to some sultry co-ed who can't act.
Devices like the Oculus Rift are going to absolutely catapult horror gaming into a whole new dimension soon, but while we wait for the promise of VR to become a workable and affordable reality, there's still a ton of horror titles coming out in the next year that are well worth your time.
Unfortunately there's already been some major casualties in the 2016 lineup, most notably the cancellation of Silent Hills, which would have brought on the talents of director Guillermo Del Toro and The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus. This isn't the first time we've had a major Guillermo Del Toro disappointment on the horror front, as his planned movie adaptation of At The Mountains of Madness got scrapped some years back.
We were also supposed to get a Call Of Cthulhu title from Frogwares next year that's been pushed back to 2017 as the title was shunted to a different developer. It's a damn shame, because the heart of any mythos experience – whether we're talking about Lovecraft's short stories, Call of Cthulhu pen and paper role playing scenarios, or even the 1st season of True Detective – is all about investigation and not tentacle monsters, making it a perfect fit for the company behind a slew of Sherlock Holmes games. Hopefully Cyanide Studio can step up to the task and give us something as mind-shattering as Frogwares would have.
Those disappointments aside, these 11 games are all ones we're anticipating playing alone at midnight next year, covering a wide range of genres from first person shooters to survival games and even asymmetrical arena battles.
Outlast is easily among my favorite horror experiences of all time, letting you play your own personal found footage flick. Making the camera the main mechanic was an excellent idea, and completely culling any ability to fight back really ratcheted up the tension. Outlast remembered something that every action packed zombie game forgets: there's nothing scary about being able to obliterate the things chasing you.
Based on the recently released teaser, it looks like the religious overtones that popped up in the first game but were abandoned near the end of the story will come front and center this time around. My hope is that they keep the creepy religious themes going strong, and then at the end reveal nothing supernatural or sci-fi is going on at all in the sequel, instead letting the horror of humanity's own vile actions sink in.
Hopefully some tweaks to the formula pop up to keep things fresh and overcome the few flaws of the previous game to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.
Friday the 13th
Gaming has expanded by leaps and bounds since the NES title based on this unnecessarily long running-slasher series. The upcoming entry, which just passed its crowd funding goal on Kickstarter, will go down the path laid by Evolve, setting a group of campers against one overpowered killing machine.
Getting to play as the eponymous slasher himself will likely be a ton of fun while taking down over-sexed camp counselors who aren't paying attention to their charges, although it remains to be seen if they'll be able to take a 7 vs. 1 combat scenario and actually make it scary.
Last Year: The Nightmare
You might be doing a double take looking at the last slide and then continuing on to this one. That's because it's literally the same idea about the same characters – just without the name Jason Vorhees. Just which one was announced and in development first is a point of contention for the developers behind both games, who have unfortunately been feuding.
There's been cease and desists, canceled and reactivated crowd funding campaigns, redesigned enemies without hockey masks and a whole lot of online bluster. The status of the game is actually a bit up in the air, as the developer is now only sending updates to those who originally backed the project, with no major announcements coming to the wider world.
All that nonsense aside, I'm just glad we're getting more horror games, and I hope at least one of these manages to succeed and show us some unique gameplay twists we didn't see coming.
Layers of Fear
A very different concept, this immersive horror story is based around famous paintings and puts you in the shoes of a painter trying to finish his magnum opus as he's losing his mind.
Already available in an early access version through Steam, the finished product is expected to drop in 2016 and is already getting rave reviews for a solid mix of building horror and jump scares without overly relying on any one trope.
We Happy Few
More unsettling than outright horrific, this game set in an alternate 1960's London fills you with unease just looking at the odd characters and setting.
This drug-fueled adventure filled with creepy people who wear constantly smiling masks is guaranteed to get disturbing by the end. Currently under development after a successful crowd funding campaign, We Happy Few is scheduled for a summer 2016 release.
Taking traditional game elements and turning them on their heads, Perception puts you in the shoes of a blind woman who can only navigate her surroundings through echolocation.
The idea is that the scariest aspects of horror movies are always the ones you can't see. Another crowdfunded title, this interesting little experiment is slated to drop in June next year.
Dead Island 2
This has been an ill-fated game, not only getting delayed but even changing developers part way through. The sequel to the original Dead Island will take place in California, with a reportedly larger and more vibrant area to explore while hacking apart zombie limbs and blowing off their heads.
Although this is clearly going to be more action-oriented fun than a legitimately scary experience, anything with hordes of zombies is usually going to be a good time.
Coming from some of the same developers responsible for the horror themed MMORPG The Secret World as well as the adventure game The Longest Journey, this new 2016 horror game is set in 1920s Norway and deals with the rich history of Scandinavia.
Fans of The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter or the folklore inspiring any given Norwegian black metal album will want to earmark this title as something to pick up as soon as its official release lands.
The Walking Dead
It's time to find out if someone other than Telltale Games can do justice to The Walking Dead. Going to a first person setting, the game aims to capture the dread of living in a post-apocalyptic world on PS4, Xbox One and PC in late 2016, with a VR capable version also planned for later release.
There's not a ton of concrete info on this one yet, although the developer has stated there will be stealth and RPG elements woven into the first person action as well.
Silent Hills may be devastatingly dead, but fans took the creepy themes from the game's playable trailer and decided to run with them, creating a whole new game based on the concept of a closed home environment that changes subtly during play.
Over time you'll discover more of what's going on in the house through photos and letters, leading to a disturbing change in the walls and floors as the awful truth comes into focus.
Set on an abandoned moon base, Routine will evoke the loneliness of space as an astronaut explores the derelict facility and tries to find out just what exactly happened. It's a good bet you'll get chased by something awful, and have to find interesting ways to overcome the dangers of the vacuum of space.
If you liked Alien: Isolation, this one will scratch the same itch, but hopefully with less frustrating difficulty. With any luck it will be scarier than that found footage flick about evil moon rocks.
There are some horror games originally slated for the end of the year that haven't nailed down an official release date yet. Although not confirmed, these are likely to land in 2016. Of particular note is Clocktower reboot Project Scissors: NightCry, which takes place on a cruise liner as a ghostly creature with giant shears chases you down the ship's corridors.
Although never as prolific as fast-paced shooters, real-time strategy or even RPGs, there's still some very high quality horror titles coming down the pipe in 2016. These 11 games are the most likely to illicit screams from us in the dark while we play with headphones on and the lights off, but we also want to know your most anticipated horror title of 2016! Tell us what we missed and what you thought of our picks.