Great horror games that combine fun with fear
Halloween is upon us again – time for fake spiderwebs, pumpkin carving, spooky stories, and a selection of classic horror-themed iOS games.
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!
Five Nights at Freddy’s AR (free + IAP)
The standard Five Nights at Freddy’s games are packed full of jump scares but at least confined within your device. This AR version has you tiptoe about your house, attempting to track down malfunctioning animatronic horrors that tend to attack rather than entertain. It’s way better – and scarier – than comparatively staid ghost tracker AR apps.
Toca Boo ($3.99/£3.49)
As bespectacled ghost Bonnie, you scoot about a haunted house in this child-friendly arcade outing. Its cartoonish japes find you lurking behind curtains or even hiding in a toilet. (Kids: do not try this at home.) One BOO! later and you can chalk one up in the ‘terrified somebody’ column.
Speed Dating for Ghosts ($2.99/£2.49)
Even the dead want to find love. Here, you speed through chats with prospective phantom partners, before choosing one to go on a date with. This is essentially a visual novel and so your choices are limited. But suitably, given the game’s subject matter, this is also a game with plenty of soul.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle (free + IAP)
Rather than running away from horror, you’re dishing out death in this oddball puzzler with lashings of cartoon gore. You slide horror icon Jason Voorhees around, so he can chop up cops and campers. It’s more ridiculous than horrific, not least when you realize your mother’s levitating decapitated head lurks in the corner, dishing out advice.
Candies ’n Curses (free)
More cartooning, but this time without the gore. In Candies ’n Curses, the adventurous Molli Pop bounds about platforms, obliterating ghosts and other terrors by way of her flashlight. With gorgeous pixel art and entertaining boss battles, the game echos classic arcade cabinets like the Bubble Bobble series. Ignore the IAP nudges and revel in its fast-paced gameplay and cast of adorable specters.
This platform puzzler features a boy trudging through a bleak monochrome landscape. On trying to pass traps, he’s frequently dispatched – and then reborn to try again. That might sound joyless and somber, but Limbo’s clever and thoughtful. It’s horrific too – a moment where the boy’s speared by a giant arachnid will stick in your mind longer than the whiff of the season’s last pumpkin latte.
Dark Echo ($1.99/£1.79)
Less is more in horror, not least when a game world comprises stylized representations of sound waves bouncing off obstacles. Your brain ‘helpfully’ fills in the gaps as you creep about, making deadly horrors stir upon accidentally splashing in a puddle before making a swift and heart-pounding escape. You’ll never look at wiggly red lines in the same way again.
Death Road to Canada ($14.99/£12.99)
Every Halloween round-up needs at least one game featuring the shuffling undead. This is the best of them, combining shooty action, frenetic sieges, RPG-style decision making, and hordes of walking corpses that want to eat your brains. It’s tough, but the game’s inventiveness and daft humor keeps you playing. (Top tip: don’t make a moose angry.)
Boo! (free or $1.99/£1.99)
Based on one of the creator’s own premium puzzlers, Factory Balls, Boo! invites you to decorate a pumpkin by dipping it into paint pots. The thing is, you must match a target design, and only have a few items to help mask parts of the pumpkin. The game’s more cute than terrifying from a visual standpoint, but later levels will make your brain scream.
Forever Lost ($2.99/£2.49)
This room escape game dumps you in an abandoned asylum – and writing scrawled across the wall makes it clear you’re not the first to be trapped. It messes with reality too – early on, you play a game on an abandoned out-of-place iPad and an object you find ends up in your ‘real world’ inventory. Spooky – unless you believe Apple kit is magic.
Night Book (free + $4.99/£4.49)
If while watching horror movies you yell at the TV when a character makes a dreadful decision, Night Book might offer an outlet. The game features a woman working nights as an online interpreter, but her shift goes awry when a caller reads from an ancient text. Cue: jump scares aplenty but also decisions you periodically take to get her through the night.
Year Walk ($3.99/£3.49)
Like traversing a painterly picture book based around Scandinavian folklore, this eerie game has you flip virtual pages to explore a barren forest. Snow crunches underfoot as you work your way through opaque puzzles and gradually discover horrors and scares that bar the way of the protagonist trying to find his one true love.
Note: grab Year Walk Companion (free) too – it comes in handy.