My Top Five Horror Games.
Has a video game ever given you a nightmare?
Horror video games are some of my favorite games out there, but many would agree that its hard to put a list like this together since it can always change. So lets not consider this an absolute list shall we? Anyway, I just figured that I'd take this opportunity to count down five games that have scared the beejeus out of me over the years. Please remember, though, these are just my personal picks, not necessarily the scariest games of all time. So if you don't see your favorites, please don't be a party pooper about it.
lets get started.
5. Doom 3.
year released: 2004
Genre: First person shooter. sci-fi horror.
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
I couldn't really make a horror video game list without including an entry in the Doom series. And the third one was a no brainier. The story takes place far in the future where scientists have discovered the ruins of a technologically advanced ancient civilization on mars, and this discovery leads them to unlocking the secrets of teleportation technology...that just so happens to unlock a gateway to the bowels of Hell. You can probably guess how well that goes. You play a lone space marine and its up to you to shut the gate way and prevent the demonic horde from reaching Earth. It's a bit cliché but it sets up both the plot and atmosphere. And its the atmosphere that makes Doom 3 so scary. The lights keep flickering on and off and there are plenty of shadows for the denizens of the underworld to lie in wait to ambush. Some parts of the game are set completely in the dark, your pitiful little flashlight (which you can't use with your weapon) barely illuminating anything. So that means that if you see something move, you better shoot it. Aside from the that, there are audio dairies scattered about the fac that show us what the mars base staff was like before and during the decent in madness, creating sense of hopelessness that can leave you feeling unsettled. Its low on my list because, as you collect the more powerful guns, the scariness kinda becomes pointless and the admittedly the gameplay is more or less standard for any first person shooter. But none the less, its still a creepy game and worth checking out. I recommend getting the recently released BFG edition because it comes with a bunch of new content, all the original expansions and the ability to play the game in 3D.
4. Slender: The Eight Pages.
year released: 2012.
platform: PC and OSX (Apple computers).
Genre: first person Survival Horror.
They say that what you don't see is scarier than what you do see. And Slender takes that to its fullest. Now granted The game doesn't really have an over arching story, but this is one instance where that actually works in its favor. You play a nameless person with a flash light in a dark foggy woods hunting for eight pages of a book. All the while being chased by a faceless...thing called the Slender man (based off the urban legend of the same name). That's pretty much it. There no way to defend yourself, you just have to run and hope that it doesn't catch you. And that's what makes the game work, the tension and atmosphere is unbearable. Your flash light is your only light source, and if you use it too much it will go out for the rest of the game. As if that wasn't bad enough, the more pages of the book you collect, the thicker the fog gets and the man himself makes this barely audible stomping sound when it moves, that gradually becomes louder as you collect more pages. And you rarely ever see him, I mean he will at times appear clearly in your field of vision (stare at him too long and its game over) and then be gone the next moment, but as you collect more pages, he will appear closer to you. But ever after you've collected all eight pages, you can still get caught by him. It really gives you the sense that your being hunted, instilling a sense of helplessness that can makes you feel sick. The game is free to download so go for it if you think you can stomach it.
3. Resident Evil Gamecube remake
Year originally released: 1996 (original game). 2002 (remake).
genre: Survival Horror. Zombies.
platform: Nintendo Gamecube and Nintendo Wii.
When I first heard about this remake, my first thoughts were "Why is it on a Nintendo console, of all things?" and "This will be a cake walk." How wrong I was. While the same basic story (a special task force of police officers gets trapped in an isolated mansion infested with zombies and monsters) and gameplay from the original game were carried over, the designers spared no expense at improving both. Aside from the impressive graphical upgrade, this remake also brought in gameplay elements that had been introduced in the sequels that had been released up to that point. For example: The player can now make a quick 180-degree turn, and the player character's body language changing depending on how much damage they've taken. In addition, the puzzles from original game were changed to be more challenging and new defensive weapons (such as a stabbing knife, taser and stun grenades) were introduced. New areas were also added, the original game's dialogue was completely rewritten to make it less campy and, most importantly, story elements that were cut in the original game were put back in. The result is that, while the story still isn't that great, it makes more sense. But the most important thing improved here was the creepy atmosphere. The original had this too but here the tension is stretched so taut that even the familiar areas that players were with still scared them (and me) witless. The atmosphere is also helped along by the near photo realistic visuals, pre-rendered environments, and the new zombies types. What do I mean by new zombies? Well, If you down a zombie and leave it alone for a while, they will eventually rise again as a Crimson Head, a much faster and stronger version with razor sharp claws. The only way to prevent this is to either destroy the head completely or to burn them. I can't tell you how many times I was actually scared while playing this. And to this day, its the only Resident Evil game that actually lives up to the term "survival horror" in my estimation. I can't think of a single bad thing to say about this version of the game. Its one of those instances where everything that could have gone right, did. And it still holds up today, so much so that this version was re-released on the Nintendo Wii in 2009, and an HD remake is in the works for the PS3 and Xbox 360. I say skip the original version and get this.
2. Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly.
Year released: 2003.
platform: PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox.
genre: survival horror. Ghost Story. psychological thriller.
I know that I've been using the word creepy in some capacity or another throughout this list. But their really is no other word to describe this one. The story is about twin sisters Mio and Mayu who stumble on a haunted village in the woods. The ghostly inhabitants soon make themselves known and Mio and Mayu get separated, and now Mio has to find her sister. Her only means of defense is an old camera that can exorcise ghosts somehow. That means that you have to let the freaky things get close to you before snapping their mugs. The camera has several upgrades to help you do this, like special kind of lenses and film that you find along the way. The game is scary in the same way that a Japaneses horror movie is. Its slow building, psychological and builds up tension until your ready to burst, and then stretches it out for as long as possible before you encounter a single ghost. That just makes it all the scarier. Modern horror games could probably learn a lot from this one (I'm looking at you, Dead Space...)
1. Silent Hill.
More hubs on scary games.
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Year released: 1999.
Platform: Sony PlayStation (AKA the PSone). PlayStation 3 (downloadable title).
Genre: Survival Horror. Psychological Thriller.
And at last we come to the first video game that actually gave me nightmares. This choice might seem predictable, but I think that's only a testament as to how scary this game actually was and still is to this day. Why? Well, what's scarier than a hunted village in the woods? How about a modern city? The plot is about a father named Harry and his daughter on their way home from vacation, when they accidentally wind up in the fictional town of Silent Hill. His daughter goes missing and Harry goes in to search for her. And from the beginning, its very clear that something is terribly wrong. The town is choked by a thick fog, is piratically deserted and the few remaining townspeople don't seem right in the head. The town itself seems to have a split personality in the form of a nightmare world and the normal world and is constantly shifting between the two. Oh and there are monsters running around. There's a lot more too the story than that, but If I went into detail I'd have to talk about the whole game, and that I'm not gonna do.
Gameplay wise, Silent Hill is very similar to the original Resident Evil, just with a fully 3D perspective. Your weapons are actually things your expect to see in a modern town (like an hatchet, steel pipe, knife, pistol, shotgun, hunting rifle etc). And Harry isn't a police officer or a marine, he's just a man. The atmosphere is heavy, frightening and intoxicating, and made even more so, thanks to the excellent sound design and music by Akira Yamaoka. And even though by today's standards the graphics look like crap, the grainy, pixelated look actually helps make the game even more frightening, mostly because it forces you to use your imagination more and forces your mind to fill in the blanks as to what you're actually seeing. Playing it is like going into a really screwed up nightmare; one that stays with you even after you've turned the game off. And that, my friends, is the mark of any good horror story.
So, those are my top five scary games. Hope you all enjoyed it, and I hope that you have a chance to play some of these games. And if you have already, well go replay them.
if you have the stomach for the horror for yourself.
© 2013 Will English.