GameCrate’s Halloween Spookytacular: The End of the Line
The final week of our Halloween celebration has arrived, and I'm sad to see the month of October end. Once more, this time of year has been filled with ghouls, goblins, and candy. Hey, who says you can't indulge in chocolatey goodness before it's actually Halloween? We're rounding out our Spookytacular with three final games, making that 31 in total, one for every day of the most wonderful month of the year.
Last time, we embraced our inner-candy-loving-child with Costume Quest, entered the cold depths of Alien: Isolation, pieced together our memories in Home, turned zombies into rainbows in Lollipop Chainsaw, got screwed up in the head with F.E.A.R., explored lonely planets in Metroid Prime, and splattered blood all over the place courtesy of The Evil Within. It's time to wrap things up in this year's Spookytacular!
Given that witches are a major part of the Halloween tradition, it's nice that Nintendo and Platinum Games made sure to launch Bayonetta 2 just in time for the spooky holiday. While the doesn't change too much in terms of action and mechanics, this sequel has actually managed to surpass its predecessor in terms of critical reception. That's likely due to the fact that it gives you more of everything that was so rad the first time around.
Considering just how splendidly crazy the first Bayonetta was, it's hard to believe that Bayonetta 2 actually goes even crazier, giving you more grotesque baddies to destroy, more stylish moves to pull off, more massive bosses, and just more entertainment. This is a sequel done right. It remembers everything that brought it to the dance in the first place while giving players major incentive for delving right back in.
As we've come to expect, the titular Bayonetta is a hypersexualized ancient witch. But although the game certainly makes no bones about exploiting her ravishing flair and over-the-top demeanor, it's hard not to cheer her on as a protagonist. Yes, she may cater to a crowd of people who love blatantly sexy characters, but she's not lacking in other, more important categories like personality, wit, and just plain badassery. Bayonetta is a sexually charged witch, yes, but she's by no means a weak or one-dimensional character. She's easy to root for because she's a total killer who can get the job done due to her skills and ability.
If you dig crazy Japanese action games, you owe it to yourself to dive right into one of the best new entries in the genre. Bayonetta 2 is the real deal, and its subject matter and witchy protagonist make it a fine pick for Halloween gaming.
The Last of Us
As soon as it was released The Last of Us became one of the greatest horror games around, and it may very well even be the absolute greatest. While that's an arguable point, there's no arguing that Naughty Dog did some remarkable things with this game. For starters, it walks a fine line between action-adventure and survival horror, giving you the best of both worlds.
To be fair, this is essentially a zombie game. But even though the fungal threat that pervades the world has turned people into mindlessly aggressive creatures, the way The Last of Us presents itself is far more sophisticated than your typical zombie title. For starters, the atmosphere is dreadful beyond comparison. This is where the game excels with its survival horror elements. The world you're forced to survive in is hopeless, desperate, and dying. It genuinely feels like you're not going to make it out alive.
The enemies are also scary, even if they're not as terrifying as the game's ambiance itself. Just hearing the clicking noises emanating from the disfigured enemies' is completely disturbing. And watching them blindly stumble about, waiting for any audible cue to trigger their sense of attack creates a tense feeling within the confines of the many claustrophobic environments. You constantly feel like there's nowhere to run in this crumbling, apocalyptic atmosphere.
It helps that The Last of Us is so well written, too. The game could have easily fallen victim to expected tropes and cliches, but instead was brought to life in a way that no other zombie game (with the exception of The Walking Dead from Telltale Games) ever has.
Speaking of zombies ...
While ZombiU may suffer from a few cliches, it's important to note that it delivers rich survival horror gameplay in its purest form. The game hits all of the right notes, giving you tense, brooding atmosphere and sweet, bloody gore. In terms of its mechanics, it actually feels like you're in a zombie apocalypse — your weapons, ammo, and supplies are limited, and your use of guns is hampered by the fact that your character isn't very good at using firearms, which would certainly make sense for a lot of folks in that scenario.
ZombiU even has a few jump scares, though they're not cheap. In fact, they're intricately designed to work alongside the beautifully somber level design. Sometimes you'll expect a zombie to jump out at you, and it won't happen. Other times, you'll let your guard down, and out pops an undead freak, ready to chew your face off. There are also those moments when you observe an area that's filled with zombies, and it's up to you to figure out a way around the horde. It's horrifying, and it adds a true sense of survival to the game.
Adding to the experience is some of the best use of the Wii U GamePad. The touchscreen acts not only as a backpack, but it also allows you to interact with the world around you. If you scoffed at the fact that the touchscreen is used for inventory management, you should know that it actually adds to the tension. For example, if you're shooting zombies and run out of bullets, you'll need to grab some ammo from your backpack, which results in your character being in a vulnerable state while rummaging through his things as zombies continue to move forward — no, you can't pause, and yes, it's nerve-wracking.
As far as pure survival horror is concerned, ZombiU is a great throwback that actually creates a genuinely scary experience. If you need something to play on Halloween night with the lights off, this is one of the best choices to go with.
Thanks for joining us for GameCrate's Halloween Spookytacular. We hope you enjoyed our 31 games for all 31 days of October. Happy Halloween, eat lots of candy, and see you next year!