I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.
-The Criminologist, Rocky Horror Picture Show
“The following is a contributor post by the Middle-aged Horror Mage.”
Growing up, the Halloween season always meant three things: candy, costumes, and horror films. Even as far back as elementary school, I’d show up on Halloween dressed as Jason Voorhees and fill my pillowcase with candy while walking around the Baltimore suburbs before falling asleep to A Nightmare on Elm St.
It’s a childhood tradition that eventually bled into my lifelong obsession with spooky video games. As I got older it became less about the candy and costumes, and more about consuming as many of them as possible. Are horror cavities a thing?
Anyway, these types of games are a huge staple of my diet and it’s become a yearly tradition for my girlfriend and I to watch lots and lots of Let’s Plays on the ol’ YouTube. Playing games is always more fun, sure, but there are quite a few LP’s out there that we like to revisit annually — even adding a few new ones here in 2018.
To help get everyone in the Halloween spirit, I wanted to offer up a list of my 10 favorites (in no particular order). There may not be a huge variety in terms of their hosts, given that I tend to stray from the face cam screamers and streamers, but I assure you they’re all worth sinking your teeth into as we approach my favorite holiday.
1: Cryaotic plays Clock Tower 3
Cryaotic is my favorite Let’s Player on YouTube, mainly because he’s thorough, genuine, and downright hilarious without being loud and annoying. No face cams, no (unwarranted) shouting, just a soft-spoken dude who loves video games and has a great sense of humor.
Clock Tower 3 pulls no punches in terms of violence, but it’s equal parts gore and camp and tells some gut-wrenching tales in the process. However, it only gets weirder as it progresses.
Cry went into it expecting tense scares from all manner of things that go bump in the night, but watching (and listening) to him slowly come to terms with it being an unapologetic magical girl horror game is a sight to behold. This doesn’t stop him from enjoying it, though, and Clock Tower 3 is one of the most quirky horror games on the planet.
2: GG Gab plays Silent Hill 4: The Room
GG Gab is mostly known for her horror Let’s Plays, which include more well-known franchises like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but she also puts her multilingual knowledge of Japanese to the test while translating foreign horror games that never reached the English territories. Her channel is an absolute treasure trove if you’re into these types of things.
My favorite Let’s Play of hers is Gab’s maiden voyage into the most underappreciated entry in the Silent Hill series, The Room. The game is designed in such a way that picking up certain items or doing specific things will unknowingly trigger new events, which makes a blind playthrough (meaning the person has never played it beforehand) more interesting to watch.
Silent Hill 4: The Room is a little bit of a departure from the previous games, given it started off as a different game entirely, but it’s a psychological masterpiece with an atmosphere so thick it can be cut with a knife. Part of the game takes place within your apartment, where you’re locked inside by a mysterious force. Your safe space becomes more haunted as the game goes on, but there’s also the traditional Silent Hill exploration, disturbing narrative, and questionable combat.
It’s a great story with one of the series’ best villains to date and GG Gab’s first foray into The Room is the perfect way to experience it.
3: Iconoclast187 plays Koudelka
Iconoclast187 is a relatively straightforward Let’s Player who just happens to be incredibly knowledgeable about the games he plays — most of which fall into the horror category. If you’re looking for a thorough, chill Let’s Play by someone who explains it all along the way, then he’s your guy.
Koudelka is a lesser known horror RPG for the original PlayStation that led to the creation of the Shadow Hearts series on the PS2. Although it’s a horror game that’s heavily rooted in religion and folklore, it gives up the clunky tank-controlled combat of the era in favor of a grid-based tactical RPG system instead. Think of the mansion exploration and puzzle solving of Resident Evil, but with random encounters and the combat system of Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem (just nowhere near as complex).
4: Cryaotic plays Haunting Ground
Cryaotic’s 2nd appearance on the list is for another lesser known survival horror game on the PS2, Haunting Ground. It’s similar to Clock Tower 3, in which it features a protagonist being stalked by murderous villains, but Haunting Ground is heavier on puzzles, forgoes combat entirely, and grants Fiona the assistance of a canine companion.
Haunting Ground is one of my favorite horror games on the PS2 and getting to watch my favorite streamer play it every year is always a treat.
5: Super Best Friends play The Nightripper
The Super Best Friends’ annual Sh*tstorm series offers a new horror Let’s Play every day throughout October, and my favorite so far this year is the 90’s PlayStation-inspired Puppet Combo joint, The Nightripper. They don’t make it through the entire game, but their attempt is spit-out-your-drink hilarious.
If you long for the era of muddy, brown textures, ugly character models, film grain, and VHS tapes with sun-bleached covers, then check out their catalog. The Nightripper is a great place to start, but also check out Nun Massacre, Feed Me Billy, and Babysitter Bloodbath. They’re faithful tributes to a bygone era and, despite being incredibly difficult, are super charming.
6: Iconoclast187 plays Kuon
Before Dark Souls and Bloodborne, FromSoftware developed a fascinating horror gem on the PS2 called Kuon. Offering three short(ish) stories to play through, Kuon is a traditional 3D exploration game similar to Fatal Frame but delves into melee combat and magical spell cards to fend off the supernatural. It’s steeped in Japanese folklore and has a fantastic story with plenty of twists and turns.
This is Iconoclast’s 2nd appearance here and his knowledge of Kuon makes for an efficient, informative playthrough of all three chapters.
7: Cryaotic plays Detention
Detention is the best horror game you’ve probably never played and Cry’s LP is the perfect way to experience it for the first time. It’s a combatless 2D experience heavily rooted in Taiwan’s dark past and supernatural folklore, but also happens to have one of the most intriguing narratives in the genre.
The less you know about Detention the better, though, so I highly recommend just diving right in.
8: Super Best Friends play Silent Hill 3
Pat from the Super Best Friends Zaibatsu loves Silent Hill 3 and his adoration is readily apparent throughout their Let’s Play series as he lovingly explains the connections, similarities, and lore behind my favorite horror series of all time.
I don’t recommend watching it unless you’re familiar with the first two Silent Hill games, though (GG Gab has a great playthrough of the original game and Cryaotic’s run through of Silent Hill 2 is great, despite having a technical hiccup with his in-game flashlight).
9: Giant Bomb plays Deadly Premonition
If you mix Twin Peaks and Resident Evil 4, chances are you’d still end up with something more polished than Deadly Premonition — but its campy nature is 100% part of the charm.
Developer SWERY is known for his over-the-top direction and no two people are better suited to experience his take on a small town murder investigation than Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann and Vinny Caravella. Their Endurance Run from 2011 is wonderfully hilarious and still holds up 7 years later.
10: Cryaotic plays Rule of Rose
Rule of Rose is mostly known as one of the most expensive PS2 horror games of all time. It was given a limited printing here in North America due to its controversial subject matter, so finding a copy typically involves dumping a bunch of money on eBay, Amazon, or going through some other third-party seller. For what it’s worth, I paid $96 USD for my copy about six years ago.
While it’s widely considered mediocre and not worth the price of admission, I found it to be thoroughly interesting from a story and presentation perspective. Rule of Rose also has a magnificent soundtrack that elevates the atmosphere to great heights, which is all too important in the genre.
It plays like absolute garbage, sure, but that’s why it’s best if you just watch Cryaotic muscle through it instead! Watching him descend into madness while struggling with the game’s technical missteps is an intriguing parallel to the game’s narrative and makes for an interesting watch.
There are plenty of Let’s Plays out there to watch on ye olde internet, but these are the ones I recommend checking out if you want to get into the Halloween spirit without playing the games yourself. There’s something comforting about October’s cool weather dismissing summer’s humidity. For me, it means bundling under blankets with a cup of tea or coffee and watching my favorite games being played by some of my favorite YouTube entertainers.
Hopefully, you enjoy them as much as I do. Happy Halloween!
Trash is the Middle-age Horror Mage here at TWRM, an irregular co-host on The Unlikely Herocast podcast for CA! Radio, and sole contributor for his own games-related website, Cheap Boss Attack. Follow him on Twitter @Trashlevania!
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