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What if Halo was a horror game? And other Halloween tales

Five franchises that could be chilling

It's Halloween, time of devilry and chaos, and the internet is full to the brim with hastily cobbled-together lists of scary things like leering pumpkins, Photoshopped pictures of ghosts and massively over-priced copies of Silent Hill.


Our own hastily cobbled-together list is a little bit different - it's a rundown of games that aren't scary but could be, given a few well-timed cases of diabolical possession within the development teams concerned. By all means add your own thoughts - along with fond reminiscences about the games that have left your underwear in tatters - below.

1. Halo!
The Flood are an absolutely natural, massively under-exploited survival horror foe - icky, multiple-formed, more or less ineradicable and crucially, unsportsmanlike. Where the Covenant (and in particular, Covenant Elites) observe certain rules of war, forming a rudimentary battle line as you advance, Flood forms throw themselves at your crosshairs in a suicidal rain, stymieing attempts to fight scientifically. They're among the industry's most brutal palette cleansers. They're also really, really annoying, and as a consequence, news that the Flood are confined to multiplayer in Halo 4 has been very warmly received.


A change of context might help. One of Halo 3: ODST's touted USPs was that you aren't, in fact, a super-soldier whose carapace is proof against anything up to and including an unplanned orbital insertion. You're just a grunt. An elite grunt, granted, but a grunt all the same. Regrettably, this didn't amount to much in-game - you're still capable of wielding Spartan Lasers, you're still equipped with shields, and despite the Rookie's less-than-imposing girth, the Covenant react to his presence more or less as they would a forceful dose of the Chief. Injecting the Flood into proceedings wouldn't upturn any gameplay tables by itself, but read between ODST's lines and you may uncover the hazy after-image of a rather less empowered shooter, in which frenzied marines tip-toe down silent, pulsating corridors, fearful of rousing a swarm of twitching shapes from nearby grills and doorways.

2. Battlefield!
There's one thing I'll never forgive Battlefield 3 for, and that's quitting Iran prematurely. The game's earthquake-ridden city setting came in handy when advertising the strengths of the new Frostbite 2 engine, but DICE abandons it all too swiftly in the campaign (in fairness, Aftermath picks up the thread to an extent) - there are other fish to fry in the form of suitcase nukes and shouty pseudo Bin Ladens. Shame, because by the time I'd weathered a couple of hours in the place I was thoroughly attached to both the tense environmental vibe and, as a consequence, the other members of my increasingly hard-beset squad. That kind of claustrophobic chemistry is hard to engineer, all too easy to compromise.


Here's a proposal: a Battlefield game modelled on the tone and narrative structure of Spec Ops: The Line and XBLA adventure I Am Alive. Create a world where every unguarded footstep could be your last, as tremors randomly (that's to say, with the appearance of randomness) drop skyscrapers on you and open fiery chasms beneath your feet. Spend 15 hours detailing the struggles of four men, perhaps introducing variables in the form of stranded civilians and enemy VIPs. Pick away at the player's self-control atom by atom.

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