For the sake of full disclosure, I often feel that games are more emotionally impactful and physically challenging at night. However, there are certain games that have a specific ambience or sound design which are more impactful with the gleam of a bright North Carolina moon shining through the window. The genres and themes of these games will share similarities, but each one will bring its own strengths to your upcoming solo, midnight-gaming marathon. So, the next time your insomnia takes hold or you just want to load up on Mountain Dew at eleven o'clock at night-these games will provide hours of fun to keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.

Dead Space and Dead Space 2

What could be better at night then a tale of dismemberment and psychotic horror? Dead Space does these two things better than any other game on console. To say that Dead Space is made up of the things from nightmares is an understatement. Alien infections, reanimated human corpses, isolation in the midst of thousands of Necromorphs, religious extremism that defines the next step in human evolution as alien abomination, and the psychological  ramifications of contact with alien technology are only a few of the horror elements that the narrative of Dead Space executes so well. So, the next time you are looking for a good video game scare, put in Dead Space and fight 'til the break of dawn.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

"Metroidvania" style games are not my forte, and I also have a limited frame of reference for games within this genre. However, no one can deny that as the setting for the game Dracula's castle is utilized to near perfection in Symphony of the Night. The diverse soundtrack frames the creepy beauty of the castle and produces an eerie ambiance that is still effective more than 15 years removed from the original release of this fantastic title. (If you, like me, missed the original version of SoTN on PS1, you can find it available on many platforms as a downloadable title. In my opinion, it is still definitely worth your time.)


BioShock is a unique game. The narrative is driven through the use of audio logs and localized conversations with those directing you through Rapture. With a silent protagonist, the bulk of the narrative is communicated through the city of Rapture. The locations of Rapture combine for one of the most complex environments in gaming. A good wealth of jump scares and an environment which shows flashes of a once thriving city that was covered in the blood of civil war combine to create the perfect game to play at night.

Deadly Premonition

Deadly Premonition is weird. This game is my favorite 360 exclusive, but it is just so strange. With that said, the town of Greenvale sets the stage for a murder mystery that has one of my favorite endings of this generation. Deadly Premonition is certainly derivative, but for those willing to look past some major flaws, the inhabitants of this town and Francis York Morgan will endear you to solve the murders and restore peace to Greenvale even in the middle of a midnight rain.

Mass Effect 3

This may sound a little odd considering the games that have been included so far. Horror, madness, and fear have dominated the list to this point, but I want to take a moment to propose ME3 as the ultimate game to play at night. While not horror in the traditional sense, Mass Effect 3 revolves around the inevitability of death. You form bonds and make choices that you deem right for an entire galaxy that may not exist beyond the next moment. The weight of this pervades the entire narrative leading to a story that has one of the greatest emotional impacts in games. The narrative is a dark one but impactful for the way it portrays courage and resolve in the face of what seem to be insurmountable odds. When you play Mass Effect, it always feels good to realize that you are surrounded by the stars. A clear Carolina night sky does this more effectively than anything else I know.

I hope that you enjoyed this list. Do you also enjoy playing games deep into the early morning hours? Are there any games that you tend to save for late night gaming sessions? Let me know.