MY TOP TEN HORROR GAMES THAT YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER PLAYED
I’ve always been a fan of horror as a genre. When it comes to games, the very idea of horror entertainment takes on an entirely new dimension thanks to the existence of interactivity. For some reason, horror games seem to slip into obscurity much more easily than any other genre. Perhaps this is because, as a genre, horror requires a lot of emotional investment. You can sit and play FIFA for hours without breaking a sweat but a horror game can be tiring to play, especially if you’re shitting your pants for the entire duration.
Anyway, here is a list of horror games, which I feel deserve a lot more love.
10. Realms of the Haunting PC (1996)
This PC shooter from the classic era seems to have been all but forgotten by time. I suppose it couldn’t compete with the likes of Doom and Quake. However, if you scratch below the surface a little you will find a highly story-driven FPS, something which was quite a novelty for the time.
You play as Adam Randall, who ventures to a haunted house in order to investigate the mysterious circumstances around his father’s death. As he enters, however, the doors lock behind him and he is forced to journey throughout the entire house while looking for answers as well as a means of escaping it.
If you can get it to run, you may find a rather charmingly old-school game wrapped in a very scary plot.
9. Siren: Blood Curse PS3 (2008)
This one really seemed to go under the radar of western gamers, which is a shame because it was a truly scary game. It comes in 12 chapters as the player takes control of a multitude of characters, from members of an American T.V crew to a lost little girl who cannot defend herself.
The plot centers on a mountain village which disappeared in the 70’s, suddenly re-appearing, packed full of the undead. The various characters are simply trying to escape the nightmare without falling victim to the monsters. Some interesting mechanics, including certain characters having the ability to see through the eyes of the zombies, keep the game interesting for its relatively short duration.
The game is available on PSN, so there’s no excuse for any PS3 owning horror fan to not have this in their collection.
8. Clock Tower SNES/Playstation (1995)
In Clock Tower, you are being relentlessly stalked by a crazed killer who carries a giant pair of scissors. The fact that he seemingly appears at random makes the game feel as though he is constantly wandering around the place, searching for you. This adds a real sense of urgency and desperation to the game, as you tentatively move from room to room, attempting to achieve your aims without being chopped into little pieces.
This game is both gory and suspenseful and has a lot of adventure-style elements to it as well. If you’re looking for something to add a bite to your point-and-click then it is definitely worth your time and money.
7. Sweet Home NES/FAMICOM (1989)
Many fans of the genre consider this to be the first real horror game. It is hardly surprising to learn that Resident Evil was heavily influenced by it. In fact, Resident Evil began its development as a re-make of Sweet Home.
The game plays like an RPG but is packed full of horrific imagery, especially for its time, including zombies, demon-dogs and possessed dolls to name but a few. You have a party of five characters, who all have different skills and you must escape a haunted mansion (sound familiar?)
6. Fatal Frame/Project Zero Ps2/XBOX
Fatal Frame (or ‘Project Zero’ as it is known in Europe) is a prime example of why the Japanese are miles ahead of everyone else when it comes to making horror games. The game is set in a haunted mansion (aren’t they all?) The player controls a young woman named Miku who is searching for her missing brother who disappeared while doing research for a novel.
You soon discover the building is packed to the rafters with ghosts and spirits which can only be dispatched by capturing their image on an antique camera. This adds a very interesting dynamic to the game because the player not only has to photograph ghosts, but is also forced to scavenge for film. The staple of any good survival horror is the feeling that you are either defenseless or under constant threat of running out of ammunition. This game combines the two by making your sole weapon a battered-up old camera and giving you very little film for it.
Fatal Frame is a truly scary experience and one which is worth quite a bit of money if you still have a copy of it today.
5. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream PC (1995)
Imagine a future where a rogue supercomputer has destroyed all but 5 members of the human race, whom it has made immortal in order to keep them in a constant state of mental and physical torture, as a result of its hatred of them. Does that sound scary?
‘I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream’ is a point-and-click adaptation of the short story of the same name by sci-fi author Harlan Ellison. The game has multiple endings and only one of them can be considered anything remotely like a victory, such is the grim nature of the source material.
4. Haunting Ground PS2 (2005)
The key to making a truly scary survival-horror game is instilling a feeling of helplessness in the player. This is where Haunting Ground hits the nail on the head, by putting you in the shoes of someone who can’t really fight back.
You play as Fiona Bell, a young woman who has been kidnapped and brought to a castle from which she must escape. Her only friend is her pet dog, who will often try to hassle enemies while Fiona runs away. This really is a game all about fleeing in terror. If you don’t, Fiona is likely to be caught and in some cases, raped. It’s fairly grim material and ability to tackle controversial, sexual themes makes it a brave title to say the least.
Also, it has one of the coolest enemies ever; a large, mentally disabled man-child called ‘Debilitas’ who thinks you are a doll. And he wants to play.
3. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth XBOX/PC (2005)
Never before have I felt so hated by a game. The vast majority of Call of Cthulhu takes place in the small town of Innsmouth and the people who live there hate you. You’re an outsider and they make sure you know about it. As a private investigator sent there to look into the disappearance of a young boy, you are quickly labeled as a nosey outsider who knows too much and that’s when the whole town turns on you.
Dark Corners of the Earth is both compelling and a worthy adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s original source material. Unfortunately, it was buggy on release and ended up slipping into obscurity. However, after plenty of patching, it is now quite a compelling experience and an extremely unnerving game.
2. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem Gamecube (2002)
This game sold extremely poorly on release, but has since come to be known as one of the greatest horror games of all time. It actually simulates the effects of insanity, a mechanic that gamers wouldn’t really see again for another 10 years. As the player loses their grip on reality, various unsettling things may happen. These include anything from the camera angle being skewed slightly, the player finding themselves walking on the ceiling and audible hallucinations, right up to the game simulating hardware errors and even a blue screen of death.
Furthermore, this game has some of the best combat of any survival-horror ever. Remember how clunky and awkward games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill could seem at times? Eternal Darkness’ combat is smooth and fluid.
Finally, the game has an excellent plot revolving around Alexandra Roivas, who is investigating the mysterious murder of her grandfather Edward Roivas. While exploring his Rhode Island mansion, she discovers a secret room containing, among other odd items, a book bound with human skin and bone. You are then thrown between various different characters throughout time as you unravel the mystery behind the book and its powers.
1. System Shock 2 PC (1999)
What can I say about this game? It’s just so awesome. It combines sci-fi and horror to such a degree of perfection that no other game has ever truly been able to compete with it. The ‘Dead Space’ series ought to be thanking this game because a cynical gamer may accuse it of borrowing heavily from System Shock 2.
You play a lone soldier on board a Space Ship in the year 2114. You are woken from a deep sleep to discover that the ship’s AI has gone homicidally crazy. It has murdered most of the crew, but they’re the lucky ones, because the survivors have become monstrous mutations.
This game is terrifying. It really makes you feel as though you’re alone in an unrelentingly hostile environment. The ship’s AI constantly taunts you as you make your way through its various chambers of mutilation. Your former crewmates beg for your forgiveness as they lunge at you, unable to control themselves.
This game was genre defining and anyone who considers themselves a fan of survival-horror ought to have it in their collection.
From the writer of Go To Hell Dave