Where Are the Good Games Based on Horror Movies?

With Halloween approaching I’ve been sifting through my horror movies deciding what to watch and it got me thinking about the lack of decent video games based on horror films. Surely the horror genre should be fertile ground for some great games? Well sadly it hasn’t been. There have been some decent horror video games but very few of them were based directly on movies.

I can only really think of a couple that were actually worth playing. The Thing was a pretty decent game based on the classic horror sci-fi flick from 1982. It followed on from the events of the film and featured a kind of fear and trust system whereby you had to be vigilant in case one of your teammates had been infected. It was pretty tense but played too much like a regular linear shooter.

There have been several games based on the Alien movies and Alien vs Predator has to be the pick of the bunch. Even AVP2 and the more recent Aliens vs Predators were pretty fun. The best thing there was the ability to play from the point of view of the alien or predator.

Several other classic horror franchises have spawned games. Here’s a list.

  • From Dusk Till Dawn
  • Evil Dead
  • Friday the 13th
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Halloween
  • Jaws
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • Underworld: The Eternal War
  • Saw: The Videogame
  • Saw II: Flesh & Blood
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • Nightbreed
  • Gremlins
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • The Mummy
  • Psycho
  • Fright Night

A lot of them date back to the eighties so you’re talking basic graphics and limited gameplay. There have been a few more recent games based on the Evil Dead films, with Bruce Campbell providing voiceover work (I even worked on one – Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick) but ultimately they are all pretty disappointing. There’s some fun to be had from chain sawing your way through hordes of deadites but even wisecracks from Bruce can’t save them from being pretty basic action games that lack any genuine horror, a decent plot or much of a connection to the actual franchise.

The really big eighties horrors, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and Friday the 13th spawned a few games but they always cast you in the victim role. Wizard Video made a couple of games for the Atari 2600 – Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In Halloween you had to protect kids from Myers but in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre you actually played as Leatherface and the aim was to murder trespassers. Despite the incredibly basic graphics it got banned by a lot of stores.

The thing is, those classic slasher movies are all about the fun of watching a bunch of obnoxious teens getting murdered. You don’t want to play as the teen — you want to take on the Jason Voorhees role. Now that could make a really great game — stalking around Camp Crystal Lake hunting revolting teens and picking up bonus points for scaring them or despatching them in inventive ways.

The most recent game based on a horror movie that I played was Saw: The Videogame. It was basically a third-person hack and slash with a big puzzle element. Imagine a much more limited version of Resident Evil and you’ve got the idea. By all accounts the sequel is going to be even worse.

I guess games based on movies are generally pretty terrible. There are only a handful of exceptions. Genuinely scary horror movies aren’t going to work well as games. How would you make a game out of The Exorcist, The Shining or Rosemary’s Baby?

Romero’s zombie films are perfect but sadly the only officially licensed game, Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green, was one of the worst games ever made. On the other hand Left 4 Dead borrows liberally from the films and it’s a great game.

I still think you could produce great games based on Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, An American Werewolf in London, Scream, Hellraiser, 28 Days Later, even Wrong Turn. I wrote a design doc based on The Omen, who wouldn’t love to play a game as Damien?

Ah well looks we’ll have to be content with the movies for now. What horror movie would you love to see as a game?


About Simon Hill

I'm addicted to gaming and have been since I was a wee boy. Worked in the industry as a tester, designer and producer. I'm now a full time freelance writer and editor.