With fall and and the Halloween season just around the corner, it seems about high time that we dished out a list of the top 10 horror games of all time. So dim the lights and bury yourself in your blankets as we take a look at these terrifying games.
10) Alan Wake
If you thought a trip to the country would be a great idea to get some peace and quiet, then you’d be sorely wrong. Alan Wake tells the story of a writer suffering from writer’s block, who on the advice of his wife, takes a much needed vacation to the Pacific Northwest. Only what was presumed to be a simple trip, turns to the worse as the townspeople of Bright Falls begin disappearing and shadowy beings begin emerging from the forested woodlands. What makes Alan Wake such a terrifying game is that the game takes place primarily at night, with only a flashlight at your disposal to battle the seemingly endless hordes of darkness. The game blends psychological thriller with horror to deliver an intense experience that will leave you begging for even the smallest semblance of daylight.
9) Silent Hill 2
James Sunderland can’t quite understand what led him to that town, or why it is so heavily blanketed in thick fog. A small cryptic note from his wife seems his only clue as to why he is in Silent Hill. James would soon come to realize that all is not right in the small hamlet as we uncover the mystery behind the monstrosities contained within. Silent Hill 2 brings back the monsters from Silent Hill in gruesome fashion and delivers some of the most disturbing creatures imaginable. The lack of many weapons, sparse ammo, and continuously spawning monsters make for some of the most anxiety-inducing gaming sessions you’ll ever have. Not to mention that the story is one of the most hallmark stories in gaming history.
8) Slender: The Arrival
By now you will have already heard of the urban legend of the Slenderman, and with the upcoming release of the movie, now would be the perfect time to experience the horror that comes with crossing paths with the Slenderman. Slender: The Arrival begins innocently enough, you decide to give your friend a visit, at her secluded house at the edge of a very large forest. Only all is not right, and with the sun quickly setting, makes the situation all the more ominous. The house appears abandoned, but every now and again you’ll catch a glimpse of an abnormally tall man in a black suit out of the corner of your eye. The game solely arms you with a video camera as you try to uncover the whereabouts of your friend, which ends up taking you deeper and deeper into the forest, all the while the Slenderman stalks your every movement. The unnerving suspense and general uneasiness alone make this a truly horrific experience.
7) Dead Space
Very few games can effectively meld action and horror together, but Dead Space did exactly that. At a time when horror games were sorely lacking, Dead Space’s release ushered in a resurgence in the survival horror genre. The hero of the game, Isaac Clarke, is armed to the teeth with absurdly deadly mining equipment and must uncover what happened to the crew of the USG Ishimura. In what initially appears to be an empty ship, turns out to be filled with the reanimated mutated corpses of the Ishimura crew. Every vent, shaft, and doorway has the possibility of containing a “Necromorph” and trying to figure out where the next one will appear made for a very terrifying experience. Dead space made you fearful of an enemy encounter with every step and remains a must-play for all horror fans.
6) Alien: Isolation
Alien: Isolation is the quintessential Alien game; no other game in franchise history has come close to capturing the ferocity of the Xenomorph and intensity brought on by being hunted by the “perfect organism”. The shrill of the radar and your own heavy breathing are your only companions as you traverse the lonely halls of Sevastopol Station. As you make your way through, a loud clanging of metal can be heard in the distance, but quickly turns alarming the louder and closer it seems to get. You frantically search for a place to hide, only its too late as a large black mass descends, grabs hold of you, and sinks its gaping mouth directly into your cranium. This is an example of only one of the many ways that you will die in this game and working out how to properly evade the Alien is your only means of survival. Alien: Isolation delivers plenty of scares and tense moments that will leave your palms sweaty and cause you to lose your nerve. “I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.”
As an investigative journalist, Miles Upshur is no stranger to doing whatever it takes to uncover a story. Only this time it takes him to a psychiatric hospital known for its inhuman treatment of patients. Things immediately go awry, as the halls are littered with the mutilated corpses of orderlies and nurses, only to discover later that the psychopathic patients have been let out of their cells. Outlast begins as a horror game but then take a turn for the supernatural with further progression into the asylum. Insane patients can be found throughout the hallways of the hospital, some confined to their own delusions, and others seem hellbent on disemboweling you. As we’ve come to know from this style of game, you are only armed with a video camera, which comes in handy in unlit corridors, but running is definitely the name of the game here, as all attempts to retaliate results in a very gruesome death. Outlast is the type of game that may very well give you nightmares and possibly wet yourself, which I wouldn’t blame you for.
4) The Evil Within
This game puts you in yet again another insane asylum, but wait no, its not just an ordinary mental hospital this time. In the Evil Within Sebastian Castellanos must brave the horrifying labyrinth that comprises the warped mind of one of the mentally unstable patients in the asylum a la The Cell. The game puts you into some very surreal places, through warped hallways, and dream-like landscapes. There are also some of the most grotesque monsters you’ll ever see, such as the spider woman that is reminiscent of The Grudge. One way or another you’ll be subject to the horrors that lurk within the recesses of a most depraved mind.
3) Condemned: Criminal Origins
Ethan Thomas is just an ordinary FBI agent, but when he is framed for a crime he did not commit, he embarks on a quest for the truth, all the while being chased by supernatural beings and the FBI. Condemned has you hunting down the serial killer that framed you, but doing so will require some detective work and some of the most brutal combat you’ve ever seen. The game makes even simple drug-addled squatters horrifying by employing subversive AI that catch you in the moments that you are the most vulnerable such as if you are looking in a different direction. Everything in the game is a weapon, from a construction rebar to even a locker door, can be used to repel your foes. Condemned uses dilapidated buildings and dimly lit locations to set the mood and take hold of your fear, and does not let go until the very end.
2) Fatal Frame
Japan is a land of many wonders and a vast array of folklore. One so heavily present in Fatal Frame is the idea of curses, which forms the very basis of the game. This is a game that will leave you far too afraid to continue forward and will leave you relieved the moment you quit the game. Venturing through an abandoned house is the trope here, however this mansion is filled with terrifying ghosts, of which can only be defeated by taking their picture with a spiritual camera. Having to stare into the horrifying pale faces of the ghosts makes gameplay all the more frightening. Ghosts will also follow you across rooms so escape is practically impossible. Playing with a friend is strongly encouraged and as a warning to those easily scared, this is not the game for you.
1) Amnesia: The Dark Descent
This of course is of no surprise to anyone as Amnesia is by far the scariest game I’ve ever played. Amnesia introduced us to the concept of removed combat, which made the player feel very vulnerable, an aspect that is still being used in horror games today. The game also used the player’s fear levels as a means to make the gameplay feel more engaging. In essence, you couldn’t stare at the monsters that roamed the game’s setting too long, or risk being driven insane. Every encounter with the gatherers was absolutely terrifying as one look instigates a crescendo in alarming music that has you frantically looking for a hiding spot, all the while increasing your character and your own fear levels. Amnesia is an absolute must for all fans of the horror genre and must be played wearing headphones for an optimal experience.