Here’s a generic list for you all: horror games! Survival-horror for the most part. Something that every other gaming website will be chugging out come October but as I’m a non-conformist, I’ll just post this at a completely random time of the year.
NOTE: I’ve purposefully left out the Amnesia‘s and Outlast‘s and all their endless clones, with an exception or two. So for the vast majority, you won’t find ‘Let’s Player’ friendly first-person weaponless survival horror, as that would just clutter the entire list. Furthermore, I tried to keep it light on the Silent Hills and Resident Evils, with leaving out the mainstream ones.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
For the Lovecraft fans. At its core, it’s a FPS adventure game, with a good deal of puzzle-solving. There’s also no HUD to speak of, which is probably meant as an immersion mechanism but at times it’s more of an annoyance than anything else. Although no graphical marvel, the game is quite cinematic, which is somewhat hampered by the difficulty which will have you run around aimlessly to figure out what your supposed to do next.
Probably one of the most unknown titles on the list. It actually demanded quite a high-end machine to run properly back when it was released right at the end of the millennium. A deep, long title that again might have you scratching your head not knowing how to progress. Still, it is one of the more unconventional horror games to date. Fun fact:Same engine used to produce the film-based Blair Witch game trilogy.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
This title surprised everyone by actually being a really scary and great re-telling of the very first Silent Hill game. There’s no combat to speak of and your primary tool is the flashlight, which is why I recommend the Wii version, which I find to be definitive because of this feature alone. It also looks the best on the Wii, not that there’s a big difference between the Wii and PS2 versions. A game that changes based on your decisions.
Also known as Obscure: The Aftermath in the States. Not a particularly good game but still a fun title in that horrible 90’s teenage slasher type of way. The plot is hopefully meant to be intentionally extremely campy as it revolves around a bunch of teens trying to escape from a party where all the other teens have turned into monsters and as usually in such narratives, the cast is composed of classic high school/college stereotypes that are dimwitted as hell.
I’m only including the first from the trilogy as that’s the only game I consider an actual horror game. This again took people by surprise, with being genuinely frightening and scary. It reminded me of those scary nights where I’d play Resident Evil 3 alone and it would scare the heebie-jeebies out of me. If you’re an Alien’s fan for example, this is definitely a game You should check out.
Another series that kept getting progressively less of a horror game, the original F.E.A.R. was heavily influenced at the then popular ‘little pale girl trope’ that was popularized by such movies as Ringu and The Grudge. The game follows a silent protagonist who’s pitted against hundreds of clone warriors in mostly very grey office buildings, with the occasional jump-scare from the tiny girl in red.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
A GameCube exclusive that in essence is something completely different from anything else on the list. The game has a multitude of playable characters and locations in different timelines that are all intertwined in an overarchig plot with a physiological mindfuck aspect that not only plays with the sanity of your playable character but with you as the player aswell. It maybe sorta has s a spiritual successor in the making.
A long-in-the making title developed by the people behind one of my most favourite games of all time: Max Payne 2. The horror is a mixture of a typical Stephen King novel with David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’. Also has a great mini-sequel, titled American Nightmare. There have been rumors of a possible full-fledged sequel but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Siren: Blood Curse
This remake of a PS2 game encompasses the very best of Japanese horror and features some unique gameplay mechanics that I really haven’t seen in any other game. This one like the previous game on the title is presented in episodic fashion with multiple playable characters and a super-eerie atmosphere. If anyone is interested in getting acquainted with Japanese horror, this is a good place to start.
The Redux contains a duology of some really great apocalypse-themed FPS titles, created by a very talented team of developers from Ukraine. While the original games already looked very good, the Redux version has tweaked the visuals quite a bit and made some much-needed fixes, especially with the first game in the series. These games are just a small portion of the franchise based on the books by the same name that are quite popular in Eastern Europe.
Not to be confused with the below average Marky Mark flick, this 2D sprite-based horror game might be one of the scariest iterations on this list. A Silent Hill-esque gritty game filled with psychological horror, Lone Survivor is a roller-coaster ride of fear from start to finish. I’ll also give a shout-out to an older indie title Backstage, which I enjoyed quite a bit back in the day and I was quite reminiscent of it while playing Lone Survivor.
The Suffering 2
The game, at least for me, had some presentational issues where some flashbacks didn’t have the required effect on my, which was of course to fill in the gaps of the back story but more importantly to scare me because usually when they were executed I was too busy running away from the gory monsters because I’d constantly run out of ammo. This intentional ammo scarcity of course made the game quite challenging.
The Evil Within
This is the only game I had any actual hype for and I was not left unimpressed. Under the direction of Resident Evil creator S. Mikami, this game really felt like a swan song from all his prior work. I’m not gonna talk too much about it, other than if you’d even to bother and play just one game on this list, I strongly advice it to be this game. It’s also one of the few AAA that actually has great DLC that add’s something to the overarching plot.
A seemingly simple point-and-click horror title that has one of the most eerie atmosphere you’ll ever find in a video game. This image of the horse kept me up for nights. While the bulk of the horror does come from jump-scares, it’s the build up that really gets to you. A puzzle game at heart, the story is blooming brilliant!
Resident Evil: Outbreak series
Outbreak and its aptly titled follow-up File #2 were a set of games that took the player back to good old Ground Zero, aka. Raccoon City. A time when console gaming was really starting to embrace the online functionalities. While the main gimmick of this spin-off from the RE series was online play where the only way to communicate with other players was via a handful of remarks that were mapped to the right analogue stick. The premise was actually very interesting and and delivered some very unique gameplay and online co-op, especially for the time. Ironically the online component, the main feature, for the first game was absent in the EU release but this was amended for the sequel.
“Wait, what? This isn’t a survival-horror game!” I hear you say. I impugn however, as this might just be the scariest and most realistic game out there, especially for a 20’s something heterosexual male. The plot is filled with psychological horror and the actual gameplay segments that while puzzle-based do give off a clear sense of dread and despair, where the main character desperately tries to escape the many horror that not only face him from day-to-day but the much more horrible near-future events that are almost forced upon him. Marriage and having children for example, scary!
As promised, this is the only non-combat FPS survival-horror title on this list. Made by the Norwegians behind Age of Conan Online, Dreamfall and ties directly into their latest MMORPG: The Secret World. It’s a non-combat exploration game with a strong emphasis on atmosphere and story-telling. You play as a mother who’s lost her son in an amusement park but all is not what it seems…
Manhunt is a Saw-esque series with a lot of controversy behind it. The developers were forced to censor the most gory parts in order to be allowed to release on the PS2 and Wii. The basic premise is that you’re a psychopath in a nut-house with all the other psychopaths. A stereotypical interpretation of a loony bin, plain and simple. Not the best game out there mind you, even though it was released by the same people behind the GTA franchise but still better than its predecessor in my opinion.
Speaking of Saw-esque games, here are two actual titles based on the film series by the same name. Yes, movie tie-in games are generally rubbish and yes, these games aren’t really that good but they do come off as more than the average movie-game schlock. In the game you play as people who are in Jigsaw’s playground, with the main objective to escape and you do that by completing the quite gruesome tasks set before you, which includes many of the classics portrayed in the film series.
One of the few rare exceptions were Kickstarter and Steams Early Access actually worked for the benefit of all who participated. This turn-based tactical indie game is one hard cookie. There’s a level of depth that is not evident until you’ve spent a good few hours with the game, at which time you start to understand that not only your wits but a good sense of intuition is necessary to get ahead in this wonderful dark game.
Soul Reaver 2
Technically not considered survival-horror, the Soul Reaver games in particular are some of the atmospherically scariest games I’ve ever played. The only saving grace is that the player character too is a hideous monster, so that should make you feel less frightened by the other hideous monsters. The overall gothic look and fantastic voice-acting make this one of the premier gaming franchises of all time. However, there hasn’t been a proper sequel to the Legacy of Kain series since 2003 but an online multiplayer arena fighter was released quite recently that was also shut down quite soon after.
Here I have yet another completely obscure game. In a nutshell it’s Devil May Cry meets Resident Evil 3 in Turkey and it so happens that it’s developed by a Turkish company. For a 2006 game, it looks awfully dated and the cheesiness of the intro and overall game is so cringeworthy that your more than likely to quit even before you reach the actual gameplay. But if you’re interested in a RE-like experience with some god-awful voice-acting for some reason, here you go.
Dead Space Extraction
One of the best looking Wii titles and one of the best story-driven on-rail shooters, this is another extremely surprising game to be released on the Wii. It did however get a PS3 port with buffed up visuals once the PS Move rolled out. It takes place prior to the events of the original game and acts as a prequel from multiple perspectives. The entire thing plays out like an Aliens film. You’ll also get a familiar feeling when traversing this game if you’ve played any of the other titles in the series, most specifically the original.
Rule of Rose
With a convoluted plot that’s left open for interpretation, it might be a bit difficult to get into this game. It does have somewhat of a cult following which might be due to the fact that the game was surrounded by some controversy in the EU. Something about rape and minors. This was of course exaggerated bollocks. Overall it is the strange narrative, rather than the gameplay itself which isn’t all that much, that makes this an enjoyable scary title. If this strikes Your fancy, then Haunting Ground is another similar title.
This FPS survival-horror with puzzle elements wholeheartedly stays true to the original film from 1979 as far as setting and atmosphere goes but instead ops to tell a completely original story that if I wouldn’t know any better, would think it was part of the film as well. Visually stunning, the entire game is like the few stages from Resident Evil 3, where you’re chased by Nemesis.
Silent Hill: Origins
Originally a PSP exclusive, later ported to the PS2, this spin-off was developed by the same people who also made the excellent Shattered Memories. This title took a more conventional path with a very similar feeling to the earlier Silent Hill titles. The most interesting mechanic of the game is the ability to switch between the other world in certain points of the game. Something that the player has had no real control over in any of the other games in the franchise. It also acts as the prequel to the events of the first game.
Plain and simple: RE4 clone. But aside from that it’s a solid shooter with some horror elements that are rarely frightening however. Seeing from the concept art, the game had been heading in a completely different direction but a lot it was scrapped or changed, which ultimately left us with a blonde life-guard who single-handedly blows away tons of Russian mutant-zombies.