The 5 Scariest Virtual Reality Games to Play This Halloween

A man looking through a VR headset as zombies chase him.
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It’s the time of year when everyone is looking for a good scare. Standard options like a horror movie with the lights out, or a haunted house event, can vary in quality and may not even cause a shiver. Luckily, we’ve hit the point where a short spell in a Virtual Reality headset can make you feel genuinely uncomfortable.

Some of the VR options are even free and can be experienced as many times as you would like. The medium itself is ideal for a number of genres. Psychological horror, which mainly relies on atmosphere, is amplified by the increased immersion you feel while in VR. Two of your most important senses—sight and hearing—are focused entirely on the game, so naturally, it’s going to be a step up from playing Silent Hill 2 with the lights out.

Games with action elements are also enhanced by the functionality of the headset. Actively pistol-whipping a zombie as it hurls itself at your face is more of an intense experience than just pressing a button. You’re also going to be playing from a first-person perspective and really relying on your hearing more than you normally would. Look out behind you.

So, here we’ll be taking a look at some of the options available if you want to give yourself the creeps this October.

Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners

The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners is probably the most complete VR zombie game on the market at the moment. It features a variety of weapons, a crafting system, a couple of factions, and a horde of zombies ready to disrupt your day-to-day life.

As with the TV series, other living humans also pose a threat in the game. And if you dispose of one without liquefying their brain, they will come back as a member of the undead and you’ll have to kill them all over again. As with a couple of the games listed, the game gets less scary the more you play it. After you get the controls down, it takes a pretty big shift in danger to get your heart pumping—and even then it will be more adrenaline than just pure fear.

The game is littered with little scenes and moments that immerse you pretty well. They require some reading into, and it’s easy to just walk past them and storm through the main story. However, if you take the time to actually appreciate some of these little subtle touches it takes the game to a whole new level.


The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners

Probably the most detailed, expansive, zombie survival game in VR

 

The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners

Probably the most detailed, expansive, zombie survival game in VR

Pavlov/Pavlov Shack: Zombie Mode

Pavlov, and its Oculus Quest port Pavlov Shack, is about as intense as things get. Those of you who played any of the Call of Duty zombie modes will be familiar with the concept, Pavlov’s zombie mode
is essentially a VR copy of that. You can go with single-player or multiplayer but either way, you start on a map with a pistol. Wave after wave of zombies then heads your way and must be fought off. Better guns become available as you move through the rounds, but the hordes increase in number making that additional firepower necessary.

VR does add some extra elements to this. Like Saints and Sinners, it is a lot more unsettling before you get into a rhythm. Once you start dispatching the undead with ease, it’s more of an intense action experience than a horror one. Pistol whipping a zombie is obviously more natural in VR, you can wait until they get close then just pop them in the side of the head early on, and you can do weird things like dual wield shotguns or light machine guns in the later stages. You can also actually get tired, which raises the “difficulty” somewhat.

Multiple maps are available, including some that have been copied from Call of Duty. You can either add them in yourself if you have basic modding knowledge or just hope you land on one you like. The downside is, whatever map you play the hordes won’t stop coming. You will have to give in and “lose” eventually.

As an added bonus, the Oculus Quest version of this game, Pavlov Shack, is still in development. That means it’s free through the Applab at the moment, though you will need to buy it if you want to continue playing after the full release.


Pavlov VR

A great VR FPS with a fantastic zombie horde mode

Blair Witch VR

I had high hopes for this one, but there are issues. Most of which come from the fact this is a game that has been ported to VR instead of one specifically designed for the format. It isn’t a bad port, it’s certainly better than some VR conversions (I’m looking at you here, Bethesda). The main issue is the cutscenes, which just rip you out of the 3D, first-person, universe you’re inhabiting and leave all that hard-earned immersion in tatters.

It isn’t all bad though. Those of you familiar with the Blair Witch Project will probably have a fair grasp of the setting before you even pop the headset on. The game itself isn’t based on the film, but you are in the woods, in the 90s, holding a camcorder. As far as VR horror settings go, it’s pretty ideal.

You aren’t alone either, you have a dog that both serves a gameplay function and can be interacted with. You can also interact with various objects littered throughout the game. As I said, it’s by no means a bad VR port, just some of the more immersive aspects were overlooked—hamstringing what should be this game’s strong point.

Most importantly though, is Blair Witch VR scary? Yes. You will find yourself immersed, the setting will make you uncomfortable, and elements like jump scares have a far bigger impact when it happens in front of your face instead of behind a TV screen.


Blair Witch VR

A terrifying romp through the woods with a canine companion


Blair Witch VR

A terrifying romp through the woods with a canine companion

Slenderman: The Eight Pages

The original Slenderman: The Eight Pages game has a solid cult following, galvanized by hordes of shrieking YouTubers making it look a bit scarier than it actually was. If you want to play a version that’s every bit as scary as a teenage YouTuber made the original seem, try it in VR. It’s free.

As with the OG version, the graphics are terrible. But it’s VR, visuals are second to atmosphere and this game has plenty. As with Blair Witch VRSlenderman: The Eight Pages VR takes place in the woods—an almost perfect setting capable of stirring up primal fear in humans even when nothing is happening.

You have to make your way around the map, gathering eight scattered pages while avoiding a 10-foot tall, featureless, inter-dimensional being in a suit. If he’s near, the screen goes a bit fuzzy like an old VHS. If you spot him and don’t immediately look away, you’re done.

Slenderman: The Eight Pages is available for free via Sidequest. It’s fun to play alone, and equally fun to show off your VR headset with. Who doesn’t like to see their friends scream and potentially charge into a wall $400 headset first.


Slenderman: The Eight Pages VR

A free, woodland-based, demon dodging game with a solid cult following

Seeker VR

If you don’t want to be traumatized, but don’t mind a bit of nausea, Seeker VR may be the game for you. It’s essentially a tech demo of an unofficial Harry Potter quidditch game. The physics work well, flying is easy enough when you get the hang of it, and there’s also a climbing mechanic for no apparent reason.

The best feature though is the ability to explore the exterior of Hogwarts Castle on your broomstick. It is all a bit intense movement-wise, so the Halloween niche here is for people who don’t like intense horror, but do have a solid pair of VR legs.

As with a lot of Sidequest content, Seeker VR is free.


Seeker VR

The best tour of Hogwarts you’ll have while straddling a piece of cleaning equipment

Dave McQuilling Dave McQuilling
Dave McQuilling has spent over 10 years writing about almost everything, but technology has always been one of his main interests. He has previously worked for newspapers, magazines, radio stations, websites, and television stations in both the US and Europe. Read Full Bio »

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