I’ve been playing Supermassive Games’ latest narrative adventure title, Little Hope. Little Hope is the second game in what is being branded, The Dark Pictures Anthology. It comes off the success of Supermassive’s PS4 hit, Until Dawn and delivers much the same as that game and it’s anthology sibling, Man of Medan. I’m enjoying Little Hope exponentially more than I did Man of Medan and one of the things I’d attribute that to is that it’s scares are far more effective. And this got me thinking.
Horror games or games with horror themes are quite prevalent but not all horror is created equal and while I love a lot of horror games, many of them aren’t truly scary. Today’s list is my favorite ten scary games.
10. DOOM 3
DOOM 3 is not a good DOOM game. It’s too dark, it’s too slow, and it’s gunplay is mediocre. But, where it fails at being a good DOOM game, it’s effective at being a scary and tense shooter, especially in the first third of the game.
9. Left 4 Dead
Generally I don’t find co-op games with more than one person to be scary. I don’t think they lend themselves to it because anything over two is a party and parties aren’t inherently scary (because they are parties). Left 4 Dead is the exception to this rule for me. The swarms are terrifying and the special zombies are beastly but it is when a teammate goes down that the true tension kicks in.
ZombieU is the perfect use case for the WiiU gamepad. Want to get something out of your backpack, well you’ll have to look down on the gamepad to do it. Oh and while you are doing it, you aren’t paying attention fully to what is happening around you in the game which hasn’t paused, so the creeping death is getting nearer and nearer. This all makes for a super fun and tense experience.
7. Resident Evil 2 (Remake)
I love the original Resident Evil 2 (tank controls and all) and I don’t love all the changes they’ve made to the remake but I do love that it is now actually a scary game. The zombies feel threatening and I’m never quite sure if I really killed the shambling corpse I left behind me. It’s a far more tense experience than the original ever was.
6. Silent Hill
OK, I’ve told this story before but the reason Silent Hill makes this list (and so high at that) is because of my first playthrough of the game. A friend and I were playing this together in my bedroom, in the dark, hunched over a 13 inch television screen. He handed me the controller and I set off towards our next destination, the school. I enter the school and a shade/shadow of a child appears out of nowhere. We both jumped, I’m pretty sure I yelled an expletive, and I unloaded what was in my handgun into this ghost. Turns out the shade wasn’t going to hurt me but I didn’t know that and it is still the single most terrifying moment I’ve had playing a game.
5. Dead Space 2
Cue the hate. Look, I get it, people like the original more than 2 because it is more Alien to Dead Space 2’s Aliens. And I appreciate the tension emptiness can bring but the faster paced nature of Dead Space 2 put me on edge in a way that the original did not. It got my heart pumping and had my anxiety ramped up. In short, it’s just more effective at scaring me.
4. Until Dawn
Until Dawn is a string of horror cliches tied into one effective narrative gaming experience. Yes, it relies heavily on jump scares but jump scares are fun (if cheap) when they work. And they work in Until Dawn. Playing it is the closest I’ve ever gotten while gaming to the fun I’ve had being scared in a theater.
3. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Man, screw this game. The sanity mechanic really messes with the way the game is played and at times creates an actually unpleasant experience because it’s so effective with mounting tension. I don’t like it. But I do like it.
2. Alien: Isolation
Similar to The Dark Descent, Alien: Isolation has a way of creating effective and mounting tension that comes across as true dread. Add in one of the scariest monsters in cinema history and well, Isolation just edges out Amnesia.
Alien: Isolation and Amnesia are both fantastic and properly scary to me but Outlast is the one that truly terrified me. I remember playing Outlast at Pax East before it came out and not getting the hype around it. I mean, it was solid but not mind blowing but then when the actual game finally came out and I could play it at home, I quickly realized that they weren’t blowing smoke up my ass about how effective it is. It owes nearly everything to Amnesia: The Dark Descent but I think it also just does it all better too.
Well, those are my top ten. What are your favorite scary games?