The Evil Within
The best day of the year is finally here. Friday the 13th this year brings with it many horror vibes just in time for Halloween in a couple of weeks. Games with randomization elements will take precedence here, as these titles can quickly turn any play session into a harrowing, unlucky experience.
The Evil Within lives up to its name, as players will find that many nightmares are in store for them once they begin the adventure. Following detective Sebastian Castellanos as he arrives at a gruesome mass murder scene, enemies include the Pyramid Head-inspired ax wielder dubbed “The Keeper,” a mysterious, hooded figure called “Doppleganer,” a many-armed, crawling demon named “Laura,” and all the various iterations of the Haunted.
Keeping all the monsters listed above in mind, The Evil Within makes matters worse by randomizing the amount of ammo and green gel found within lockers. Seeing as how the game keeps fans on their toes for most of its duration, there’s no telling what lies around the corner, so having ammo and health is paramount at all times. Fans of the horror genre can expect nothing else from the creator of Resident Evil. It’s so fitting that the game’s sequel comes out on this year’s Friday the 13th.
Atlus’ Catherine makes this list because nothing in life is scarier than relationships and lifelong commitment, right? In all seriousness, Catherine tells the story of an uninspired 32-year-old man named Vincent who struggles with the revelation of his girlfriend’s pregnancy and his new affinity for a 22-year-old girl named Catherine. The stress plagues Vincent so much that he has recurring nightmares in his sleep – nightmares that allude to his deepest fears, including one that surrounds a demonic-looking baby.
Gameplay-wise, Catherine can be quite difficult when playing through the title’s Babel mode, as nightmare puzzles are all randomized and blocks are arranged differently each time players attempt at completing the stage (this isn’t the case with the game’s standard campaign, but what’s the fun in that?). There’s no way of knowing what may happen even halfway up the climb in Babel, thus quickly turning any experience players think is easy into a very daunting one without a moment’s notice.
The Binding of Issac
The Binding of Issac is an excellent game to play if you’re in the Friday the 13th mood because it holds nothing back in the way of killing you so much that you’ll feel very, very unlucky. Depicting a young boy named Issac who escapes his death at the hands of his own mother, the title certainly strikes some Jason vibes, too.
Each stage, or room, that Issac is challenged with is randomized right at the start, with no save points to preserve progress. This places a great emphasis on mastering the title’s mechanics and items rather than it’s haphazard places, but the player faces the additional challenge of being kept alive enough to learn anything in the first place, as enemies can prove to be gruesome right from the get-go. You’ll be feeling just as victimized and desolate as Issac by the time you’re finishing playing the game, that’s for sure.
Slender: The Eight Pages
Slender: The Eight Pages harkens back to the earlier days of viral internet sensations, yet still stands the test of time in terms of exemplifying how well randomization works in horror games and how great the mechanic is when wanting to instill a sense of persistent unluckiness on the player. In case you’re unaware, Slender tasks players with finding eight pages in a dark forest with nothing but a flashlight to act as their guide. The game is completed when the player finds all eight pages.
Upon starting each play session, the pages in Slender are randomized in ten possible locations. Though you can memorize each possible location, it’s quite impossible to know if the pages are indeed in the place you’re vying for. If you’re unlucky, you’ll turn up with nothing to show for your journey and inch ever so closer to an encounter with Slender Man and an instant game over. The fact that the game features no sound aside from the player’s footsteps, page rustling, and some static doesn’t help, especially when hearts are sent racing when given a brief glimpse of the long man in business attire.
Alien: Isolation is one of this console generation’s most recent horror classics for good reason. It follows Amanda Ripley – daughter of Ellen Ripley from the movie franchise – as she investigates the disappearance of her mother in the far reaches of space. Thrust in solitude aboard a space station, players learn for better or for worse that the xenomorphs that crawl among the Sevastopol’s vents are impossible to kill, meaning running is always the best possible option.
The fact that xenomorphs in the game are invincible is rendered more terrifying by the game’s randomization mechanic, which allows the titular monsters to appear at almost every vent ingress within an area. A victory against one of the title’s powerful androids could prove very worthless should an Alien show up out of nowhere, making Alien: Isolation primed for an unlucky day.
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School
The Korean survival-horror title White Day: A Labyrinth Named School stars a young student who sneaks into his school at night in order in place chocolates on his crush’s desk in time for White Day the next morning (for those of you who don’t know, White Day is the equivalent of the west’s Valentine’s Day in some Asian countries). Things quickly go awry upon entering his school, of course, and the student must seek a way to escape the building before an insane janitor and restless spirits capture him.
Randomization plays a huge role in White Day, presenting to the player any number of enemy variations simultaneously. For instance, the janitor could come running down a hallway at any given time, and when the lights go out, anything from creatures crawling through the vents or a human anatomy doll could come out to haunt you. Worst yet is that your main source of light is just a box of matches, allowing you to see only about two feet in front you. Any session in White Day could be an unlucky one, which makes the game all the more noteworthy for Friday the 13th.
An indie horror essential, the scariest aspect of Outlast is how threatening its enemies can be. Impossible to kill, the antagonistic Variants in the game render the player virtually defenseless throughout the course of their stay in Mount Massive Asylum for the Criminally Insane, further piling onto the title’s ambiance of death lingering in the air.
It doesn’t help that enemy patrols are random, then, and that each enemy varies in intelligence. If the player finds that he or she is in close proximity to a Variant, he or she can easily hide in one of the game’s many lockers or underneath a desk, sure, but can’t control where a Variant may look. Indeed, if players hope to get through Outlast alive they better hope that luck is on their side, lest they be discovered in the blink of an eye.
SCP – Containment Breach
SCP – Containment Breach may be one of the lesser known entries on this list, but is just as deserving as all the others. This PC game has players take the role of a human guinea pig of The SCP Foundation, a covert organization dedicated to researching entities that threaten the normality of the world. Not long after starting the game a massive containment breach occurs, stranding the player in darkness with nothing but faint noises, shuffling feet, and monsters to keep him or her company.
The layout of the game’s many areas and enemy positions change as players journey through the game, potentially turning things from bad to worse if an escaped SCP capable of breaking necks in a second lies just behind the door. Imagine narrowly avoiding one of these enemies’ lightning-fast holds only to be facing one immediately in the next area. There’s plenty of bad luck to be had in SCP – Containment Breach, and Friday the 13th marks the perfect occasion to experience it.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’s Madhouse mode offers the most challenging survival-horror experience in recent memory. Unlocked only by beating the game once or by using a special code, Madhouse fundamentally changes many core mechanics of the game found on easier difficulties, making it a must-play for veterans of the franchise.
Instead of being placed in specific locations on Easy or Normal mode, Resident Evil 7 randomizes both items and enemies and reduces the amount of ammo and health available to be found. On top of that, enemies are much stronger and most checkpoints are removed, meaning just one slip up or unlucky drawer pull could result in players having to backtrack through a significant potion of the game all over again.
Resident Evil 7 successfully preserves the franchise’s horror vibes and makes it feel fresh for modern audiences through a deranged cast and catastrophic corridors, so there are no worries on that front if you haven’t yet jumped in on the installment.
Friday the 13th: The Game
Who can have a Friday the 13th list without including Friday the 13th: The Game? Created with the film serving as inspiration for the game (much like Alien: Isolation), this multiplayer title sees up to seven players controlling Camp Crystal Lake counselors against one player controlling Jason Voorhees.
The game not only captures the feel of the original film and recreates it as a playground of sorts, but also successfully instills the dread one would feel should they be a counselor themselves, as items in the game and cabin interiors are randomized each session. You’ll only have a one in eight chance of going on a killing spree as Jason, meaning your chances of an unlucky day are appropriately high in Friday the 13th: The Game.
There is no doubt other games out there who pit players in unlucky situations. Let us know your favorites in the comments below and have a great Friday the 13th!