Looking to celebrate and experience the spookiness of Halloween? These games can give you plenty of scares.
Halloween is just right around the corner, so why not live up to its tradition and experience some scare with some horror games. Throughout its three-decade-long history, the horror genre in gaming has continuously pushed the boundaries in delivering fear to its players. Some of the well-known titles today, like Amnesia or Resident, became famous for vastly contributing and redefining the genre. From the pixelated era to the reality-simulating VR, let us take a look at the most terrifying and best horror games to date.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
The Amnesia series is a certified classic in the horror game community. Its first iteration, The Dark Descent is especially considered one of the most terrifying horror series of all time despite being over 10 years old and graphics being overly outdated. Hell, even PewDiePie practically built his Youtube career on his frightening yet hilarious Amnesia gameplay.
What defines the scariness of Amnesia is its game mechanics. The creatures you face, called gatherers, can one-shot you while you are left defenseless with no weapons. The only escape turning off your lantern and going into the darkness, where gatherers can’t detect your presence. However, this comes at a mental price and your character can descend into madness if you spend too much time in the dark. Amnesia has perfected its design to trigger all the fear stimuli in our brains and will undoubtedly give you an amazing (or terrifying) gaming experience. If you looking to get into the hardcore horror genre, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is the first game you should consider playing.
Outlast is another famous franchise in the horror genre and is considered to be the refined version of Amnesia. Set in an asylum, you are left weaponless with only a night vision camera to navigate your surroundings and escape the gruesome half-human, half-monster entities that are trying to hunt you down. Like Amnesia, the gameplay of Outlast is relatively simple. However, what sets apart these franchises from normal horror games is the unnerving mental challenge that will be a test of your courage. The dark atmosphere, deprived vision of the camera, claustrophobic settings build a truly horrifying experience that is not suitable for timid players. It took me quite some time to watch Outlast gameplays on Youtube, let alone playing it solo.
Unfortunately, I would not really recommend getting its sequel. Although Outlast 2 is still better than a majority of horror games out there, the gameplay is considered by many to be inferior to its predecessor. However, if you are into the lore of the franchise, the story of Outlast 2 is still incredibly interesting. The Outlast franchise, without a doubt, is stronger than caffeine when it comes to preventing sleep, so I highly suggest playing these games before pulling an all-nighter.
Alien Isolation is definitely a unique horror game since it strays away from the usual spooky ghost cliche and instead incorporates aliens… obviously. But if you think that Aliens are not that scary, well you are truly mistaken. A hide-and-seek survival game against a 5-meter xenomorph is the essence of Alien Isolation. Unlike the two previous games, you do have the option to equip guns. However, these weapons are close to useless in most situations; they are not very effective in dealing damage and can be quite cumbersome to obtain. So at the end of the day, you will have to resort to the old stealth mode while hoping that the aliens won’t pop out and jumpscare you from behind. But this strategy also has its downsides, namely that the alien has an annoying “hidden GPS” and will find you despite all your attempts in hiding from it.
Another aspect that makes this horror game unique is that you will also be combating against humans, which can be both a pro and a con. On one hand, dealing with scavengers of different factions provides a dynamic gaming experience. On the other hand, it also strips away some of the horrid, terror, and immersiveness on the alien side of the gameplay.
Whether you like or dislike certain designs of Alien: Isolation, it is still undoubtedly one-of-a-kind in the horror game genre and considered as one of the most terrifying as well.
A similar game to Alien Isolation, and considered to be its predecessor as well, is Dead Space. Dead space is a sci-fi horror game that brilliantly uses sound and atmospheric design to build terror. Thus, although the game does not have scary ghosts and is surrounded by modern technology, Dead Space is able to recreate the feeling of walking around a demon-infested house. The monsters in this game, or necromorphs, aren’t that terrifying compared to the other grotesque entities that you see in most horror games. However, the light from your flashlight and sound in the atmosphere builds an unsettling amount of tension as you wander through the corridors of the Sprawl space station. And when those necromorphs pop out of a vent, best believe that you will jump out of your chair.
Unfortunately, Dead Space 2 and 3 have slightly strayed away from its horror or brutal gameplay and, instead, shifted towards the action side. Therefore, I highly recommend picking up the original Dead Space if you want to be spooked, despite the game already being more than a decade old.
Silent Hill 2
Before the four franchises above dominated the gaming community, the Silent Hill series was one of the pioneers in the horror genre. The second iteration, in particular, was a fan favorite and is also unsurprisingly scary. Silent Hill 2 was so iconic in the horror genre that even the newest installation of Resident Evil included lores from this game.
Even though it was released in 2001, it received a well-deserved remaster for Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2012, so the younger generation can experience the same terror that this game brings. We have to admit that Silent Hill 2 doesn’t have the best graphics by today’s standards. However, the game does not stop from being able to create an unsettling, eerie, and disturbing atmosphere, which most modern horror games today even fail to replicate. Many players attributed the heavy fog as a cheap tactic to create the iconic Silent Hill feeling. But you have to admit the fog does a pretty good damn job at inducing uncertainty on what is lying around your corner waiting to spook you.
It has been rumored that Silent Hill will be released on PS5, so this is the perfect time to revisit some of its histories. Just a warning before you jump into Silent Hill, tons of players have mentioned that the game has the tendency to get into your head.
The Evil Within 2
If you aren’t into cheap jump scares like me, then this game is perfect for you. The Evil Within series has always focused more on the story side tries to build its scariness through psychological horror. Some players may find the game too boring as a result of this niche design, but I truly respect the developers for going into this route.
The atmosphere in The Evil Within is nothing short of amazing, or eerie in this case. Virtually all the characters and enemies have well-written plots that will undoubtedly keep you hooked. The boss fights and monsters can be rather violent, grotesque, frightening, and all the things you expect from a scary horror game. Oh, did I mention the game is open world? Unlike most horror games out there, The Evil Within’s open-world design introduces a lot of new high-adrenaline action sequences with the monsters lurking in the streets and houses. Players can truly freely experience the danger of the Union realm by exploring the neighborhood and completing side quests.
Simply put, the Evil Within franchise is, without a doubt, one of the best survival, psychological horror series in gaming that you wouldn’t want to miss. As a side note, however, many avid followers of the series have also emphasized that the second iteration, The Evil Within 2, is far more superior than the first. The original is by no means a bad game, but it does have a lot of flaws. The Evil Within 2 has fixed most of these flaws and provides more polished gunplay, survival, and horror elements. So, consider picking up the second game even if you haven’t played the original.
Brought by the same game designer as Silent Hill, P.T. is a criminally underrated game that could’ve honestly been part of the Silent Hill series. If you are wondering, P.T. stands for Playable Teaser, which also means that it is not a fully fleshed-out game and is more a demo of some sort. The lifetime of the game itself has gone through several stages of controversy. There was initially some dispute between Hideo Kojima (the game designer of P.T.) and Konami, prompting him to create his own game dev company called Kojima Productions. Furthermore, shortly after its release, P.T. was ultimately taken down from the Playstation Store, which is eerily suiting to the game’s name.
Enough about the game’s drama, let’s talk about its incredibly disturbing gameplay. If there is one word to describe P.T, it would be disorienting. All you do throughout the game is wander around a single house trying to solve puzzles that try to the endless time loop that confines your reality. As you through each spiral through the loop, you’ll observe unsettling altercations in your surroundings that questions your imagination and plays into your mind’s sense of fear. Adding to that, you’ll have to watch out for the entity named Lisa as she menacingly haunts you from behind.
Stephen King, the author of The Shining and IT, once mentioned that the worst level of fear is terror: “when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…” P.T. is, without a doubt, the true embodiment of this quote.
Five Nights at Freddy’s
The FNAF franchise needs no introduction. Since its release, it quickly took over the gaming world by storm and climbed to the top of Steam charts, Play Store, and App store. Many have also claimed FNAF to be the best and scariest horror game to ever be made. While I certainly think that this might be a slight overstatement, I do agree that the FNAF series cleverly and uniquely induce a boatload of fear in its players. Think about it, most of the games in this list either uses the normal first-person or third-person POV to navigate the game surroundings. These mechanics, however, are often clunky and deprives the scariness and immersiveness of the game.
FNAF, on the other hand, does not incorporate any of these normal mechanics and instead puts you in the position of a security guard watching the CCTV. As a result, you are forced to maintain your focus, preventing the animatronics from slipping inside the premise. This rather simple yet stress-inducing gameplay added with horrifying art and sound design effectively places the players in the guard’s shoes and fully immerse into FNAF’s reality. Furthermore, there are no cheap weapons or guns available to fight against animatronics; you are quite literally alone and helpless in this game. If you want to experience a startling nightmare in a video game, FNAF will most definitely not disappoint you.
Fatal Frame perhaps has the best interpretation of Japanese Horror in a video game. If you have ever watched The Ring, well you can probably relate to this franchise. But for all you who are more exposed to western horror, Fatal Frame can be the gateway into understanding the perception of the supernatural in the Japanese culture.
A mechanic that truly makes the Fatal Frame unique and terrifying is the Camera Obscura. Let me explain why this is so. Our innate human instinct is to always escape from danger, which is why we always turn away or jump from our seats when a ghost suddenly pops out on our screen. In Fatal Frame, however, the only you can exorcise the spirits is by taking a picture of it. Yes, the single “weapon” in the game requires you to stare at the grotesque spirits for it to be effective.
If you want to explore or experience some J-horror, the Fatal Frame series will bring you through an incredible rollercoaster of horror and terror. The second iteration of the franchise, in particular, is highly popular, with a refined level and the character design
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
A horror game list would never be complete without mentioning the Resident Evil franchise, perhaps the most popular series in the horror genre. The newest iteration of the franchise, Biohazard, was particularly terrifying up to the point where the developers think that it might be too scary for the average player. The monsters in Biohazard are mutated humans, which makes them eerily believable and real. But like in the normal Resident Evil fashion, you will still face quite a few deranged creatures like witches and hyper-evolved fungus.
However, what truly defines Biohazard as a staple in the horror genre is its compatibility with VR. I don’t think I have to explain why horror VRs are amazing. Being able to put yourself into a horror game opens a whole new world of terror that would never be achieved just by playing in front of a monitor or TV. Biohazard in VR is, without a doubt, is the best horror experience you buy in all of gaming to date.
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