Lovecraft bids you follow the path to madness...
If you have an Xbox One and Xbox Live, you have free access to a fun little horror mystery. One of the great things Xbox and PS4 are their monthly free programs. If you join their online access clubs they each will give you a selection of free games through the month. Xbox offers more as they also include Xbox 360 games that are compatible with the new system and switch games in the middle of the month, but I am always impressed with the games included with PS4. The best part is as long as you have the plan paid for you have access to these games forever. Even if I'm not interested in the game at that time, it costs nothing to add to your library for a later download. I'd suggest doing it for both systems.
In the second half of February 2020, Xbox added The Call of Cthulhu to its library of free games. Good news for me since I've been eye-balling it since December. It is based on the RPG and takes place in the 1920s. You play a detective hired to look into the mysterious death of Sarah Hawkins on the island town of Darkwater - off of Massachusetts. There are two types of gameplay with horror games. This, for the most part, falls in line with the thinker's gameplay. There are mysteries that need to be solved and through your ability to observe you have a chance of not only solving her murder but discovering what exactly is going on at the island. While there are some elements of action, you will not really be asked to do much fighting or jumping. You will, however, spend a ton of time looking at books, artwork, people, and places putting together a puzzle that will lead you to the next part of the story.
Unlike many games coming out today, Cthulhu is a linear game that doesn't allow for a lot of exploring. That doesn't mean the game is cut and dry a-z type of game as your choices and interaction will change the game experience through the story...mostly the ending. The game is a fun way to explore the Cthulhu world, filled with good jumps and scary beings from before man. I'd suggest this game if you are a fan of this type of horror game at the regular price, but for free it's a no brainer.
I'd like to throw a few more games out there worth looking for if you are a fan of horror. I'm ignoring the staples, Resident Evil and Silent Hill. I want to share some that may have slipped by you.
This first game was available on PS2 and the original Xbox(Xbox360 compatible). And yes...that "Thing". This game takes place after the end of the John Carpenter classic. A group of soldiers is sent to see what really happened at the base. This game does a good job of mixing a shooter with the suspense and mystery of the movie. As you dive deeper into the game, you have to start deciding if the others are really human or the Thing trying to escape as one of the men. Fun to play and a good advancement of the storyline.
This game was an Xbox 360 exclusive, that later was released on PS3 as a director's cut. And now there is a version, Deadly Premonition Origins, available on the Nintendo Switch so go get it. This game combines everything that makes for a fun horror game. You play the part Special Agent Francis York Morgan sent to Greenvale to investigate the brutal murder of a local beauty. It's like Twin Peaks, X-Files, and AHS mashed together.
The game itself is quirky, fun, and a blast to play. It's got the main mystery, but they allow for open-world play and filled the game with tons of side missions and crazy fun characters. You must solve mysteries, but you get to drive, shoot, melee fight, and gather items to make the game-specific to your experience. This is still one of my favorite games.
Next up is Alan Wake. It was an Xbox 360 game but it can -and should- be played on your Xbox One. This game is filled with jump scares and OMG moments but has a solid story and gameplay at its backbone. You play the game as Alan Wake, a best selling author fighting writer's block, who's wife disappears on vacation. A dark presence stalks the small town of Bright Falls, Washington pushing Wake to the brink of sanity in his fight to unravel the mystery and save the woman he loves.
This game mixes solving the mystery, stealth games, and straight action games in a way that works well.
Until Dawn and Days Gone
The last two games are PS4 exclusives. And two completely different styles of gameplay. The first is Until Dawn, which plays more like a movie than a game with long cut scenes and split-second decisions being made to move the story in a particular direction. There are multiple roads to take to get to the end, and each choice will get you to a different ending. One fun part of this game is the studio used the voice actors' real faces for the characters; including Hayden Panettiere, Peter Stormare, Rami Malek, and Brett Dalton.
The last game is Days Gone. This is a relatively new game, coming out in 2019; that is an amazing mix of story and gameplay. You are a biker turned bounty hunter in a world taken over by the Freakers - think Zombies that can run and act within a pack. While there is a focal story, the creators have allowed the player to explore every inch of this world with tons of side missions and the thrill of the open road. And while this game does depend more on fighting, shooting, and riding your bike, it still incorporates a good amount of problem-solving to mix it up. Like the Walking Dead, you soon learn that the Freakers aren't the only monsters left in the world as you deal with a long list of characters and situations. A+ in all aspects.