Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a character in a horror movie, either running from a lunatic or being hunted by a monster straight out of your nightmares? Well, if you have a gaming console, PC, or Mac, the following games are sure to have you sleeping with the lights on.
5. The Last of US
Platform: PS3 and PS4
ESRB Rating: Mature
“The Last of Us” follows two characters, Joel and Ellie, across the United States 20 years after a zombie outbreak. Before I get into what makes this game eligible to be on this list, just let me say that this game will hit you right in feels if you play it through the ending. You have been warned.
Now, some people who have played this game may not classify it as a horror themed game, but the writer has one word for those who lean that way — Clickers. Clickers are a type of zombie in the game who have been “zombiefied” so long that spores have sprouted from their head and they have been rendered blind. That doesn’t sound too scary though does it? Well, it turns out that their blindness has heightened their hearing to the extreme, and if they sense you near them, you may have a two-second window before they tear your throat out. Now, if you’re playing on the easiest difficulty, the most Clickers you have to face at once will only be around six or seven, and that’s a pretty formidable challenge. However, if you bump up the difficulty to Hard, Survivor, or Grounded, you may run into a pack of 20 or so Clickers running around an enclosed space, and if you make one wrong move, you’re done for.
So, if you’re looking for a great game, with enough scares to make you a little jumpy for the next few days, “The Last of Us” would be for you.
4. Dead Space
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
ESRB Rating: Mature
“Dead Space” in set the year 2508, and begins when the USG Kellion spaceship answer a distress signal from the USG Ishimura. The Kellion crashes into the Ishimura, and the majority of the crew is slaughtered by nightmarish monsters while seeking a way off the vessel. You take control of Isaac Clarke, a space engineer and one of the survivors of the initial onslaught, as he tries to repair the Kellion so he and the other survivors can get the heck out of there.
“Dead Space” makes this list because it is grotesque, bloody, and troubling all wrapped into one. The monsters that attack Isaac throughout the game are called Necromorphs, and they turn out to be the reanimated corpses of the crew of the Ishimura. The thing that makes them truly horrifying is that you can’t just down them with a quick headshot, that would be too easy. Instead, you have to hit certain body parts and dismember the monstrosities before they can do the same to you. However, that isn’t the only thing that puts the game on this list. The overall atmosphere of the game is eerie and foreboding, as is any game/movie set on a spaceship that has gone dark, as we will see later on in the list as well.
Honestly, the description doesn’t do the game justice. To get the full effect you’re just going have to take control of Isaac and walk through the dark corridors of the Kellion and witness a Necromorph stalk out of the shadows in all of its hideous glory, just make sure you don’t wake your neighbors when you scream. And if you wind up enjoying the game, or if you just can’t go to sleep after playing, go on and pick up “Dead Space” 2 and 3 to let the nightmares continue.
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4 and PC
ESRB Rating: Mature
In “Outlast” you take control of Miles Upshur, a freelance journalist, who has been tipped off about something weird going on in the Mount Massive Asylum. You pull up to the gate of the asylum, and you see all kinds of military vehicles parked out front, but the place is strangely silent. You then find a way into the asylum by climbing some of the scaffolding around the outside, and being the diligent journalist that you are, you ignore the blood on the floor and being to explore.
Oh, the description doesn’t sound all that scary? I guess I forgot to mention that the game is in First Person? Still not scared? How about if I told you the only weapon you had on your person was a video camera, and you had to constantly find batteries for it or else you would run the risk of being stranded in a dark room with a lunatic just waiting to have all kinds of fun with you. Yeah, I thought that might do the trick. Those two things alone make “Outlast” terrifying. The psychos populating the asylum, the mutilated corpses, the big monstrosity in chains that chases you throughout certain parts of the game, yeah, those only add to the experience.
Go out and grab “Outlast” if you’re looking for a good scare that you could get finished within a solid few hours of gaming. If you’re up for more of the same once you are finished, go grab the “Outlast”: “Whistleblower DLC,” which serves as a prequel to “Outlast.”
2. Alien Isolation
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4 and PC
If you’re a fan of the “Alien” movies, then you can probably already guess how this game is going to be. “Alien Isolation,” you play as Amanda Ripley, the daughter of the protagonist, Ellen Ripley from the original “Alien” movie. The Nostromo (the ship from the original “Alien” movie) has been discovered at a remote space station and Amanda Ripley goes to investigate the ship in hopes that she may find something to give her closure about her mother.
There are a number of things that put “Alien Isolation” on this list. First, “Alien Isolation,” like “Outlast,” is played from the First Person point of view without a Heads Up Display, or HUD, to help the player feel like they are actually in the game. Second, “Alien Isolation” takes place in a space station which, like I mentioned with “Dead Space,” gives the game a creepy feel because it’s not like a building where you’re just trying to get back outside. When the game is set in a space station, you’re stuck there until you either repair the ship or find whatever you need to, and on the reverse side of that, the Alien is there to stay too. Third, “Alien Isolation” has a revamped AI (Artificial Intelligence) system programmed into the Alien on the Nostromo, which make the Alien constantly hunt you throughout the game.
Now, I can understand if you’re hesitant to try this game, because the “Alien” games in the past have been “meh” at best. However, all signs point towards “Alien Isolation” being the best “Alien” game to date, so if you’re a fan of the series, or just looking for something frightening, this game would be a safe bet.
1. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Platforms: PC and Mac
ESRB Rating: Mature
The game that rounds out this list is “Amnesia: The Dark Descent.” In “Amnesia” the player takes control of the main character, Daniel, as he wakes up in the Prussian Brennenburg Castle. As the title of the game suggests, when Daniel wakes up with no memory of his past, save the memory of his first name. When you begin to explore the castle you begin to unravel the mystery of Daniel’s past. While exploring you also find out that you are being hunted by a presence that tries to do Daniel harm by coating the the inside of the castle in grotesque blotches of acid, and sending horrific ghouls after him.
“Amnesia” takes the best parts of the other games on this list, and combines them all into one. Once again, this game is played from a first person perspective, with no HUD, giving the player the best immersion experience possible. Another thing that makes this game scary, is the absolute defenselessness of the main character. If a monster happens to walk into the room you’re in, you better pray there’s some place to hide, or else it’s game over. To add to the fact that you never know when a monster is going to pop up, you never know what’s going on behind you. You may enter a room in the castle, only to turn around and find a statue standing in the door way, and it’s the creepy things like that, that keep you on your toes.
“Amnesia” has many elements that make it scary, but the main reason this game is number one on the list is because of the replay value of it. In the other games on the list, except for “Alien Isolation,” once you play through the story, the replay ability goes down because you already know where all the scares are going to come from. However, in “Amnesia,” other players have created stories of their own within the game and they are available for other players to download and play through, allowing for hours upon hours of scares.
In the end, this is by no means a definitive list of horror video games. Most of the games on this list have came out in the past couple of years, and the only reason I picked these over older video games is personal preference. So, if you wind up playing any of these, and want more, there’s a ton out there that will make your hair stand on end and have you crying for your mother.
Have a happy Halloween!