Halloween is almost here, and for many, it’s time to dig out the old slasher movies and zombie flicks and enjoy a good scare. But if you really want to jump out of your skin, try plugging in a scary video game. Video games today are capable of delivering just as much fright, fear and potential trauma as any scary movie out there. But in some ways, video game scares are even more potent because you’re not just watching somebody react to getting scared on screen. You’re the one getting scared, and you’re the one who has to react to it in the right way, whether its by blowing something apart violently or running for dear life. And if you make the wrong choice, your character ends up dead on the floor with a bloody “Game Over” message across the screen. Who says video games are just for kids? Just in time for Halloween, here are the Top 5 scariest video games ever made.
Back before The Walking Dead and zombie culture took over the world, video gamers were already preparing for a zombie apocalypse. And no game helped prepare them better than Resident Evil. It started back in 1996 with the first game on the PlayStation, where you were tasked with investigating a mansion filled with mutated zombies, giant snakes and spiders, and other abominations created by the evil Umbrella Corporation and their experimental viruses. But that was just the beginning. The virus, and the series, began to spread to the neighboring towns and cities and eventually had you traveling all over the world to stop the outbreak and bring down Umbrella once and for all.
Resident Evil may not have been the first survival horror game, but it definitely set the standard. Nothing was scarier than going down that deserted hallway when mutated dobermans suddenly come crashing through the windows and start gnawing away at your arm. Or passing by that zombie you thought was dead only to have it jump back to life and rip your neck open. Nowadays, the games have taken on a more third-person shooter style of gameplay, for better or for worse. But there’s no denying the mark that the legendary franchise has left on the video game horror genre.
Another one of the most well-known names in video game horror is the Silent Hill series. Many gamers have traveled down the misty roads of this forgotten town, and all of them can tell you just how terrifying this series is. In each installment, you find yourself stuck in the town of Silent Hill and you must find a way out while trying to unravel your own personal mysteries and escape from the horrifying monsters that now dwell there.
The series draws a lot of comparisons to the aforementioned Resident Evil, but while RE tends to focus more on action, Silent Hill goes for the more psychological scares. You aren’t just being chased by these grotesque monsters, you’re being haunted by them. You’r trapped in your own personal Hell, being tormented by your own inner demons that have taken a flesh and blood form. That thought alone is scary enough.
“In space, no one can hear you scream.” Too bad that tagline was already taken by the “Aliens” movies, because it perfectly describes Dead Space. One of the bloodiest and scariest action shooters out there today, in this game your job is to repair and explore the abandoned mining starship: the USG Ishimura. But you quickly find out, it’s not as abandoned as you initially thought. The ship has been overrun by the Necromorphs, disfigured, reanimated corpses that want to slaughter you in the most brutal ways thinkable. But you fight back pretty brutally as well, using mining tools like drills and rotary saws as improvised weapons to hack their limbs off and keep them from hacking you open as well.
This game is about as gruesome as it gets, but it’s also genuinely scary and popular enough to warrant a few sequels. However, some argue that Dead Space suffers from the same problem as other survival horror games, in that the later installments go for more action than scares. Dead Space is still a terrifying franchise for sure, but the later games don’t come close to the first time you boarded the derelict Ishimura and faced the horrors that awaited within. Be warned: this is not a game for the faint of heart, or faint of stomach. But if you like plenty of gore thrown on top of your scares, this game is perfect for you.
Slender The Eight Pages
Anyone remember “The Blair Witch Project?” It was the “true” story of three student filmmakers who went witch hunting in the woods and were never heard from again. Well, the story turned out to be completely fake, but it did a great job of making the woods super creepy again. Sort of like this next game: Slender. The game is based off the urban legend of the Slender Man, a tall, faceless, suit-wearing entity that kidnaps young children and presumably does horrible things to them.
In this indie game, you are tasked with collecting eight pages spread out through the forest, all the while trying to evade the Slender Man. As you collect more pages, Slender gets closer and closer to you, and if you take too long to find a page or if he catches up to you…game over. The game isn’t very long; you can beat it in under 30 minutes or so. But for some, that 30 minutes is way scarier than any number of hours they spent playing the big-name horror games like Resident Evil or Dead Space. There are no weapons, no defenses, nothing you can do to protect yourself against the Slender Man but run. And even then, running may not be enough to save you…
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Without a doubt, Amnesia The Dark Descent is the scariest video game to come out in a very long time, if not the scariest game ever made period. The game casts you as Daniel, a young man with, conveniently enough, amnesia who wakes up stuck inside a Prussian castle with…something…hunting him down. As you explore the castle, you start to regain your memories and learn of the unspeakable horrors that took place within these walls, and why you’re being hunted down.
But that brief, spoiler-free plot summary just doesn’t do the game justice. This game is everything that makes other games scary. The isolated and overpoweringly gloomy atmosphere, the terrifying encounters with grotesque creatures, the pure psychological terror and the fear of constantly being hunted down by a fearsome entity, combined into one amazing, uniquely original and yet deeply disturbing title. If you’re looking to get scared more than you ever have in your life and you haven’t played Amnesia yet, you need to buy this game. It is nothing short of a truly terrifying work of art.