Tis the season not so much to be jolly, but instead to scare the wits out of everyone. So now the cold, dark evenings are drawing in, sit back in a darkened room, preferably with rain pouring down outside. And by candlelight and the glowing screen of your iPhone, prepare for horror! (And also some really great games and apps. But mostly horror. Otherwise this wouldn’t be a very good scary things round-up, would it?)
Size: 214 MB
Developer: Simogo AB
Beauty and horror arrive in equal measure in Simogo’s standout iPhone game. Much like the developer’s subsequent work, Year Walk plays with the concepts of narrative, gaming and identity, as you experience the titular year walk — a risky means of glimpsing the future — through the eyes of a protagonist who fears he’s lost his one true love.
Visually, the game is like traversing a painterly picture book, and yet the atmosphere feels all too real, as the snow crunches underfoot. It all begins innocently enough, with you exploring the woods. But before long, you’re drawn into a chilling web of Scandinavian folklore, facing horrors and scares that are the best on the platform.
This is an exciting, genuinely eerie game. Although brain-bending puzzles are peppered about (and, in a couple of cases, are perhaps a touch too obtuse), Year Walk is a game that rewards deep thinking, even though your thoughts are sometimes obliterated on turning a corner only to abruptly end up jumping out of your skin.
All of this perhaps sounds a bit vague, but to say too much about Year Walk is to ruin the experience. Just dive in, prepare for the cold and terror, and ensure you’ve a copy of Year Walk Companion handy. It will come in very useful.
The Room Pocket / The Room Two
Price: Free+$0.99/79p / $2.99/£2.29
Size: 220 MB / 287 MB
Version: 1.0.4 / 1.0.3
Developer: Fireproof Games
From the second you start exploring the very first box in The Room, you know something’s amiss. Something just feels off as you peruse its surfaces, looking for nooks and crannies, which may reveal switches and locks that enable you to delve deeper. As every box is defeated, another takes its place, each more intricate than the last. All along, you tumble further into a mystery your colleague was trying to solve, with research you never approved of.
At its heart a simple but atmospheric puzzle game, The Room at some point becomes Lovecraftian horror, barreling towards a conclusion that propels you into The Room Two. Here, the locations are ostensibly larger, and the puzzles seemingly broader in scope. But again, regardless of where you find yourself — aboard a creaking pirate ship; in a spooky abandoned seance room — every location is again a claustrophobic and tightly defined affair, akin to peeling back the layers of an onion. And with every step, there’s the creeping horror that something really doesn’t want you to continue poking around in the dark.
— TapSmart (@TapSmart) October 29, 2015
Size: 103 MB
There’s little outright terror in Limbo — instead, the horror here is a kind of foreboding cloak that drapes itself over a graceful yet dark platform game. The story is told in a single line: “Uncertain of his sister’s fate, a boy enters limbo”. His journey takes him through all manner of disturbing scenes, all bathed in a gloomy monotone.
Beyond the game’s grim yet gorgeous aesthetics, what enraptures is Limbo’s sense of design. Each step of the journey is a small test, often requiring you to solve a simple puzzle. This may involve hanging from ropes and avoiding gigantic buzzsaws, leaping aboard floating tree-trunks, or simply fleeing for your life. Some challenges are simple; others are arduous; but there’s always a sense of satisfaction on moving onwards with your quest. (And, suitably, given the game’s subject matter, death is not the end. Fail and you must try again and again, until you succeed.)
Oh, and that thing about terror that we mentioned earlier? We lied. When you find the spiders, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
Ghost Lens Pro+
Size: 48.5 MB
Developer: Shuzen Chen
You’ll probably have to be a bit impressionable to be terrified by this app. But it is a fun camera toy that enables you to make spooky photos and videos of yourself. Prop your iPhone somewhere safe, and you can take multiple pictures and films that can then be overlaid, giving the impression that your spirit is leaving your body, or that ‘ghost you’ is about to give ‘real you’ a pretty nasty scare.
The app also bundles a bunch of ghost stickers that you can add to your stills, and various effects and editing capabilities for videos. It is, we have to say, a bit on the buggy side — the version we downloaded oddly had placeholder text rather than text hints, although diagrams fortunately provided instructions. But of the apps of its type, we found this the most flexible and a decent buy at such a low price.
Into the Dead
Size: 93.5 MB
Developer: Prodigy Design Limited T/A Sidhe Interactive
This one comes across like a kind of feverish nightmare you might expect one of the characters in The Walking Dead to have. There’s certainly a dream-like quality to the entire game, which finds you running into an endless number of shambling, hungry zombies. Tilting left and right affords you restricted movement, and although you can glance off of the odd zombie, head straight for one and it’ll tear you to bits, in the game’s one proper fright moment.
Fortunately, you do get the chance to fight back — sort of. Throughout the journey, you’ll spot weapons. Pick one up and you can shoot and slice the undead, until your ammunition runs out. Missions provide extra longevity to proceedings, and there are various upgrade paths to keep you playing. Kill enough of the undead (and, for that matter, plenty of people running into the undead) and you’ll amass enough coinage to start new runs armed to the teeth. But death is inevitable in every attempt — the only question is how long you’ll last.
Halloween Terrific Pack: The Interactive & Illustrated Edgar Allan Poe Collection
Size: 1.30 GB
Developer: iClassics Productions, S.L.
Interactive illustrated books can sometimes distract from the source material, but this selection of books originally released under the ‘iPoe’ banner gets the balance right. Poe’s macabre texts are joined by drawn and animated fare that ranges from the oddly comic to the neatly twisted. In some cases, dragging or shaking the screen will add effects, although you can of course read the likes of The Raven or Alone without repeatedly prodding your iPhone.
The stories are further accompanied by suitably ominous soundtracks, which add to the atmosphere, and boast some interesting typography. Ultimately, though, it’s Poe’s words that will worm their way into your brain. If you’re new to his works, this is a great way to experience them; if you’re an old hand, you’ll likely enjoy this new take on some old classics.
Five Nights at Freddy’s series
Price: $2.99/£2.29 each
Size: 32.6 MB to 41.8 MB
Developer: Scott Cawthon
If there’s a game that’s going to challenge Year Walk regarding giving some extra work to your therapist, it’s going to be one of the Freddy’s series. The first game finds you initially (and only very briefly) happily immersed in your new summer job, at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Here, while everyone dines they’re entertained by a herd of cute and crazy animatronic robots. At night, the robots are mostly just crazy, and that’s not great for you, since you’re the night watchman.
In your tiny office, you have access to security cameras, and may only use a small amount of electricity, due to cutbacks. What you’re looking for is whether Freddybear and his chums are where they should be. If not, you’d better figure out how to protect yourself before one of the robotic freaks drops by to say hello and tear your face off.
Each subsequent game in the series makes small adjustments to the theme. For example, in Freddy’s 2, you have a torch with a limited battery, a music box that stops an especially psychotic robot from trying to kill you, and a giant bear mask that makes some of the robots think you’re kin. Only, when wearing the bear mask, you can’t wind up the music box.
A story runs throughout the four games, although by the end you’ll probably be such a wreck you won’t remember any of it.
Price: Free + IAP
Size: 82.2 MB
Developer: Apptly LLC
One of the scariest things about these ‘become a zombie’ apps is how many of them there are on the App Store — and how duff most of them turn out to be. Zombify bucks the trend, making it simple to transform yourself (or anyone you happen to have a decent photo of) into the snarling undead.
As with the bulk of these apps, the process is simple: take a snap, and line up a few choice elements (head outline, eyes, mouth). Zombify then gets on with transforming the photo into a fully animated zombie that lurches and snaps at the screen.
The zombie can be edited at any point: eyes, mouth and ‘props’ can be adjusted, and you can add a filter if you fancy going all black-and-white or pretending your zombie self existed in the 1970s. Beyond a few alternative video options (including a suitably repulsive tongue-slavering ‘lick’), there are links to some other apps by the developer. So if you get bored zombifying, you can turn yourself into a vampire, werewolf, robot or, er, Santa. We’ve a feeling that last app might be an anomaly, unless there’s a secret ‘murdery evil Santa’ option buried in the settings.