It’s that time of year again when we all dig through the back catalogue of scary games to get into the spirit of things. Last year we took a look at the Top 10 Scariest Video Games Ever so this year we thought we’d revisit that list and flip it on its head by slashing to pieces before rebuilding it like one of Frankenstein’s monsters. Grab a blanket, turn on the lights and don’t say ‘I’ll be right back’.
* disclaimer, some trailers still come with the brown pants warning!
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC)
Originally released in 2010 on the PC by Frictional Games this survival horror found a new audience when it was ported over to the PS4 and Xbox One six years later. The story follows Daniel who is trying to discover the secrets held within a creepy castle while keeping out of harms reach, easier said than done. It has recently found another lease of life on the Nintendo Switch as part of the Amnesia Collection so we can now relive the horrors on the go.
Dead Space (PS3/Xbox360)
Visceral Games had a mission to make the most terrifying game imaginable and from that concept, Dead Space was born. Set in the 26th Century it follows the exploits of Issac Clarke, a systems engineer on a rescue mission to locate his girlfriend after the USG Ishimura went radio silent. It was dark and atmospheric with terrifying monster creations. Dead Space was an instant hit and spawned a bunch of sequels and spin-offs. Even the teaser trailer was a thing of nightmares that was accompanied by a twisted version of twinkle twinkle little star, watching it sent shivers down my spine! It stuck with me for a long time, so here it is…
Until Dawn (PS4)
Until Dawn sets up shop as an interactive teen horror more than a traditional game but is an interesting take on the genre nonetheless. The story follows eight teenagers that, on the anniversary of the disappearance of their friends, decide to spend a night on Blackwood Mountain in a log cabin – because nothing could go wrong with that, right! The game is designed to be played multiple times offering different endings depending on the choices made using the in-game butterfly effect mechanic. With spine-tingling performances from a Hollywood cast things quickly start to unravel and turn sinister. The group soon realise they aren’t alone and it is your actions that will ultimately decide who survives Until Dawn (see what they did there).
The Last of Us (PS3/PS4)
A swan song for the PlayStation 3, The Last of Us was a coming of age title from already excellent developer Naughty Dog. It was a showcase of just how far they had grown in emotional storytelling, engagement and visual style. Without a doubt, it was and still is, one of the finest examples in the survival horror genre and even in gaming as a whole. It follows the story of Joel and Ellie who are thrust together in a tragic story set in the post-apocalyptic United States. The first hour of the game was mind-blowingly emotional leading into the horror of a new world overrun by zombified humans infected with a mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungus. Incorporating elements of stealth it was a difficult gaming experience that kept you tense throughout. After giving up originally, because it stressed me out, I’m glad that it was re-released a year later on the PlayStation 4 and I finally managed to pull myself together and finish it.
Alien Isolation (PS4/Xbox One)
The original Alien films are some of scariest cinematic experiences of all time and upon the original’s release in the late ’70s it was like nothing seen before on the silver screen. Over the years there have been numerous incarnations in video game form from Alien3 on the Sega Megadrive to Alien vs Predator on the Jaguar but Isolation really managed to recapture that feeling of true fear and helplessness. Creative Assembly built the game engine from scratch to better realise their vision showcasing atmospheric environments and unnerving lighting effects building to the tension of that first encounter with the Alien.
Eternal Darkness: (GameCube)
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was a game that came out of nowhere, it was a messed up psychological horror action-adventure that somehow managed to make its way onto the wholesome Nintendo GameCube. It was the first time that I really felt unsettled when playing a game due to some dirty tricks that developer Silicon Knights employed. Almost at random, the sound would seemingly turn up and down on your TV or the screen would go all fuzzy as if there was an issue with the connection but really it was all part of the clever programming. The story revolved around several characters struggling against a powerful entity on a mission to enslave humanity over a number of time periods.
Resident Evil 1 (PS1)
It was 1996 and I was still at school, there was a new game in town that the talk of the playground. Resident Evil was a survival horror game set in Raccoon Forrest following the exploits of the S.T.A.R.S elite task force after the mysterious disappearance of some of their team members. The controls were clunky and the puzzles frustrating but it was the first step into a horrifying world that has spawned countless sequels, spin-offs and even a long-running movie franchise. Capcom had struck gold and Resident Evil has since been hailed as one of the greatest video games of all time. What really stuck in my mind was its full-motion video intro reminiscent of the classing Dawn of the Dead movie.
Silent Hill 2 (PS2)
The second instalment in the Silent Hill franchise was released in 2001 by developer Konami in a time where they could do little wrong. It was an indirect sequel to the PS1 original, this time following the story of James who visits Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his deceased wife. The game majorly benefited from the additional horsepower of the PlayStation 2 compared to its predecessor which suffered from terrible draw distances disguised by covering the town in thick fog. The story was mind-blowing and much praised at the time covering a number of taboo subjects, psychological aspects and references to historical events and films.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (PS4/XB1/Switch)
This action-adventure offering by Ninja Theory is set in a dark fantastical world that sees protagonist Senua battle for her life against a host of demons inside and out. Inspired by Norse mythology it follows her journey to rescue the soul of her dead lover from Hela. Although not the scariest entry in the list the entire playtime is made uncomfortable yet gripping as she fights the voices in her head and the entity known simply as the ‘Darkness’. Blending a number of genres seamlessly this game excels at its psychological horror element topped off with outstanding voice acting throughout.
Red Barrels 2013 first-person survival horror game Outlast deservedly tops our list. The story revolves around a journalist who pays a visit to Mount Massive Asylum deep in the mountains of Colorado. What sets this apart from the norm is that our protagonist does not have the ability to retaliate when being attacked. The challenge lies in solving the mystery of the asylum and running away… a lot. Graphically stunning with a dark and dingy setting that is coupled with sections played through a night vision lens made this an edge of the seat experience. I squealed like a child throughout.
Agree with our top ten, more than likely not. We would love you to tell us about all of the games we didn’t include in the comments section.