A good horror game doesn’t have to have just jump scares. We also know that some games require you to leave the light on because we can never be too careful. Obviously some of the older games haven’t carried over through time too well. Most games have a bunch of mods available through Steam that you can download, which might just make it a little more bearable.
Recently there has been a rise in streamers who are playing horror games, mostly due to the scare factor in them. However, the genre has been around and thriving for several years. Going all the way back to the 90s, gamers have been getting scared out of their seats through different games that essentially molded its own genre. With several impeding horror games set to come out, now would be a good time to pick up some of the classics!
Silent Hill 2
Release Year: 2001 Where to purchase: Konami don’t want to release this on Steam or GMG yet!
This game is often labeled “the scariest game ever”, and rightfully so. You trek through the game as James Sunderland as he searches for his terminally ill wife. Silent Hill 2 is brutal in the way you don’t know your character, so you learn about his wife’s and James’ all at the same time. This game is for more mature gamers as there are references of sexual assault along with torture, but of course there is anger, guilt, trauma, and tragedy. I don’t think any game character has suffered more than James. You won’t get too many jump scares, but this game will certainly feel heavy on you.
This game is known for being one of the scariest games within the past 10 years, if ever. There are numerous jump scare moments along with the fact that this game is just straight brutal. If you are for blood and guts, then this game will be your pride and joy. Regardless of the gore, there is always more to a game then its cover, and the “sanity system” is a bit part of that. You can’t stare right into the face of the monsters so that helps make the game realistic, scary, fun, and mysterious all at once.
Resident Evil 2
Release Year: 1998 Where to purchase: Capcom hasn’t released Resident Evil 2 digitally yet!
Originally being welcomed as the best in the original series as all of the fictional Raccoon City was free for exploration. We get to work with the pair Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy as we limp through the city trying to eradicate the virus. We also got introduced to the character system that was later used in Resident Evil Zero, which had one character’s actions effect another. Besides the games “expansion” we were welcomed to great scares and intense monsters.
Helping to bring horror games into the recent spotlight of online personalities, this game capitializes on the jump scare factor with the lack of light. In game, you need to use your camcorder with night vision to truly see what you are facing. It feels like most of the time you are running away rather than facing your enemy, but alas this game is scary. Taking place in a psychiatric facility being overrun by mysterious creatures there is a guarantee that you will scream a couple times.
If you have ever played the Resident Evil series, then you know that this game is often hailed the best in the series. This was the last Resident Evil that truly had a horror feel to it, and it certainly did. If you can deal with the now-cheesy dialogue and poor design, then you will quickly ignore the flaws and notice the brilliance of this game. As you go up against the Regenerators, you will be sucked in and unable to walk away. True horror-genre fanatics will appreciate this gem.
If you want to see what Resident Evil could never do, then look no more. There is plenty of horror to go around as you get to run for your life from a range of typical psychopaths to chainsaw wielding psychopaths. Of course there are zombies and other fun creatures, but we all know everything is better with chainsaws.
There are games that are featured around mental illness, but Layers of Fear feels eerily genuine. Starting out as a reclusive painter who is missing his creativity, he sets off to find it so he can continue his work. The only problem is that there are… things. The sounds, visuals, and flashing narration will leave you paranoid and hoping that the game isn’t making you lose your marbles too.
In this game you take control of a man who has been sentenced to death for the murders of his ex-wife and two children. He is set to die on an Alcatraz-esque island where you fight, literally, for your life. Each turn can be your last, so is your innocence worth the risk? Even though this is from over 10 years ago, it was a great horror-action to play.
This game leans more towards the shooter genre, but still, deserves to be on this list. As much as this game is a shooter, it is a horror game as well. Just like any other, there are times where you are left helpless and hopeless as shooting and using abilities won’t do anything. The only option is to dismember and crush the pieces with the heel of your boot. Not only does this leave you feeling like you succeeded when you probably didn’t, but the scare factor is real. Want to make it even better? Play with the lights off and headphones are. Watch your surrounding area as you will probably get hit with a jump scare or two.
System Shock was the original game that tossed an RPG, FPS, and horror exploration into a blender. We got this phenomenal result that placed us on a haunter space ship along with an odd AI. If you know GLaDOS, then you should know that SHODAN was the inspiration. With an intense dialogue along with deep character progression, this game is still a ball to play. Even better, you can toss on a few mods to make the game a little easier to visually digest.
If you have a fear of mannequins, then you should skip this one. Even for those who don’t have an issue will after this game. Working as a criminal investigator, you must find the serial killer who is leaving disturbing clues along with dealing with other vicious characters. If you can juggle it all, then you will walk away extremely satisfied, or in the need of a therapist.
An excellent film-to-game adaptation, yet this game is rough. Dying is more often than living in this game, and progress is slow moving. With that in mind, Alien: Isolation contains beautiful design work which helps out immensely as you stealthily move around the space station. Yes, there is a huge space alien ripping through the station violently, but there are also real-life stories that players can relate to. Pulling at the heart strings is a cheap shot, yes, but it works. Preparing by watching the movie isn’t enough to equip you for this game.
Left 4 Dead surprised the world by pulling off this survival horror first person shooter. It’s not often then shooter fans would rather walk then run in game, but this is how Left 4 Dead is. Valve gave us this gem as we moved and weaved through hordes of zombies while keeping our ears and eyes peeled for special zombies. Do you feel hunted? You probably are.
Running as the predecessor to Amnesia, which was already mentioned, it still deserves attention. Especially the fact that the combat system was implemented, albeit poorly. It makes the game have a different feel and fun if you can find the humor. Besides that, the main focuses are exploration and brain games. You will have no choice but to stare back and take damage if you make a mistake. Here is our advice for that; Don’t.
Slenderman is creepy to anybody, regardless if they know about his origin story. This game is busting from the seams with jump scares as it is more of an interactive game like Telltale’s The Walking Dead series. However, don’t let that scare you away. All you have to do is find the eight pages to a book, and not die. It’s simple. Anybody can do it. Right?
Coming from one developer, this game launched into a franchise along with moving to other platforms. If that doesn’t speak for itself, then keep reading because there is more. Relatively simple, you have to survive the night in a children themed pizza parlor. FNAF is unique, oddly funny, and a game that bought horror into the spotlight and paved the road for indie developers.
You won’t jump out of your chair in horror, but you will definitely feel creeped out. Being underwater and hearing the pressurized metal creak is definitely unnerving. On top of that, you have weird experiments and creepy blinking robots that make the question of consciousness in AI very relevant. Of course, with the sea there comes uncanny monsters as well.
Bioshock fits in its own genre. Bioshock is its own game in the sense that there isn’t horror or a lot of action, but there is a ton of mystery. Besides the fact that Rapture is beautiful in its own underwater gloom, but the story is deeply inviting. Plus, as the games go on the series gets better.
Release Year: 2012 Where to purchase: Not available anymore due to music license issues!
Alan Wake was a surprisingly good game as it’s a psychological horror surrounding a writer, which seems weak against other story tellers like Stephen King. However, as you explore the town of Bright Falls and look for the pages of Alan’s unwritten book, this game takes a hold of you. Not only to collecting the pages bring you back to your wife, but you uncover this beautiful story along the way. Not only in game will you be afraid of the dark, but you might sleep with the light on.
Just like Dead Space, this game is better off a shooter then a horror game, but still remains a horror treat. Just like any good horror game, there are several times where you are left to just sit and take the damage that is being dealt. The way that this game mixes in first person shooter action scenes with unexpected fear inflicting moments shouldn’t work, but it does.