Trying to really scare yourself this Halloween?
While shooter video games like Doom and F.E.A.R. have plenty of scary moments, the survival horror genre has remained the go-to gaming subgenre for those seeking a truly terrifying ordeal.
As we all spend this Halloween at home, now is a great time to both revisit classics and delve back into the genre's forgotten gems. The subtle beauty of the survival-horror genre is that almost anyone can pick up and play, as entries are always more focused on creating a terrifying experience rather than on fast-paced gameplay, (though, as you'll see in this list, there are some exceptions). Here are the scariest video games for you to consume this Halloween.
The first-person survival horror game was a refreshing addition to a genre that had grown stale in the early 2000s. While the narrative–which follows FBI Agent Ethan Thomas as he tracks down a grizzly and elusive serial killer–left a lot to be desired, the game's scares were disturbing and unsettling. At one point early on, Thomas finds a corpse shoved in a locker. The man has been skinned alive, and Thomas needs to take an up-close photo to log as evidence. As you zoom in through the camera's shotty lens, the victim turns out to be alive and suddenly lurches at you, pleading for help.
The scares benefit from the game's minimalist gameplay. Melee combat is the only means of defending yourself in Condemned, so more often than not, defeating an enemy requires bashing his skull in with a rusty pipe. Thomas also spends a lot of time investigating stuff since he's in the FBI, so the player often has to deeply scavenge crime scenes in gory detail. Both Condemned and its 2008 sequel, Condemned 2: Blood Shot, are gory and thrilling video games perfect for those wanting to be disturbed.
Horror games have a reputation for sacrificing gameplay mechanics and a compelling story for jump scares and slow-burn jump scares. But for those who want the gothic energy of horror while still being able to have an enjoyable gaming experience, Bloodborne is a near-perfect execution of this mix. The combat is satisfyingly gory, the gameplay mechanics fluid, and the subtle lore of its story open to a myriad of more meaningful interpretations.
For fans of FromSoftware's Dark Souls games, Bloodborne follows in the series' footsteps of being agonizingly difficult. The bosses are terrifying to face, and to conquer them requires conquering your fear in the process. The puzzles will require a good chunk of time to solve, and the game's semi-sandbox setting means there are endless clues to uncover to aid in your journey. But patience is the key to Bloodborne, and taking the time this game demands will reward you in a plethora of ways.
A certified horror classic, Resident Evil is still worth playing for those looking for a truly haunting experience. The 2015 remake offers a modernized control scheme, 1080p graphics, and customizable frame rate, making it more accessible to newcomers whose experience would be bogged down by the game's vintage style.
Resident Evil's scarce resources and narrow hallways make fleeing or fighting zombies a terrifying experience every time, especially when they pop out unexpectedly, and the game's emphasis on adventure game mechanics still makes puzzles fun as hell to solve. Overall, Resident Evil's well-balanced experience is still just as enjoyable as it was over two decades ago.
For those seeking a truly immersive narrative experience, Supermassive Game's Until Dawn is a harrowing horror game where your choices directly determine the outcome of the story. It relies on detailed motion capture technology, and Rami Malek and Hayden Panettiere are only a few of the iconic actors to make an appearance in the game. The game's story focuses extensively on "The Butterfly Effect" and implements it in absolutely mind-boggling ways throughout the game. As a result, your paranoia becomes all-consuming as you play, and every choice eats away at you far after the game is over.
The game's story focuses heavily on the horror tropes of the '80s and follows a group of friends who are snowed in at a cabin in the woods while ghosts and a menacing slasher creature stalks them relentlessly. But the game twists its way into your brain with its gruesome death scenes and minimalist gameplay mechanics, whereby one choice can result in the bloody demise of your favorite character.
The Dead Space series was met with acclaim as a result of its groundbreaking mesh of third-person shooter mechanics with eerie sci-fi horror. To this day, it's still creepy as all hell. The game's space setting is what truly sets it apart from other horror games. From the creaky corridors of abandoned space ships to the sound of your elevated breath hitting the front of your mask as you feel tension set it around you, it's all gloriously suffocating.
Not to mention, the game is fun as hell. Defeating alien foes is gruesome and satisfying, and the weapons are versatile and fun to use. The gory scenes may make stomachs churn, but that's because the development team actually studied photographs of war scenes to make each kill more realistic.
It's impossible to discuss scary video games without looking at Konami's critically lauded Silent Hill series. While the 1999 debut was terrifying to play, Silent Hill 2 really shook players to their core with its elevated gameplay mechanics and heartbreaking story.
The game's line of sight is purposefully not very great either, thanks to a thick fog that has consumed the town of Silent Hill, which makes for plenty of great jump scares and spontaneous combat situations. The sequel's improvements over its predecessors solidified the game as one of the scariest entries into the horror genre ever, a claim that still holds to this day.
Rockstar Game's sole entry into the horror genre was certainly one to remember. The short-lived Manhunt series was met with a string of international bans and controversy, and received significant backlash in the UK, specifically, after a disturbed teen lured his friend to a local park in London, stabbed him to death, and battered his skull in with a claw hammer. The murder was allegedly inspired by the teen's obsession with Manhunt, but Rockstar often smiles in the face of controversy, so they made a sequel that was twice as gruesome as its predecessor.
The game's graphics may slightly dilute the experience, but with a focus on hyper-violence that rewards players more points for more gruesome kills, Manhunt 2 truly can make the stomach churn when it wants to; it's only for those who really want to witness something truly disturbing.
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