There’s something unsettling yet appealing about the survival horror sub-genre that no other genre can provide. Do you remember that feeling of dread when you faced a monster you know you can’t beat or that unsettling atmosphere you know you can’t escape from and what about being surrounded by zombies and having no ammunition? Precious resources, puzzles that punctuate the adventure, hostile environments, terrifying creatures and the ability to gather resources to survive are some of the main characteristics of this genre. Without further ado, these are some of the best survival horror games ever created.
Time and time again, people have called Amnesia: The Dark Descent the scariest game of all time, but why? Amnesia makes you feel weak, since the horror game takes away power from you and uses to its advantage. The result is a frightening, ominous and horrifying game that will linger in your memory for years to come.
There’s something about abandoned hospitals that make them extremely terrifying, especially when they are filled with homicidal patients. Outlast focuses on parkour and camera recording which are some of the forgotten elements that make horror so impactful and while the game does have some problems (it relies heavily on jump scares and repetition,) there’s nothing like it. And for that alone, this game’s worth recommending.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us is not a cinematic ride like other Naughty Dog titles (read: Uncharted) and that’s one of its best qualities. The Last of Us was critically acclaimed for its voice acting, sound design, atmosphere, story, levels and art direction, but one the best elements is the way in which the game manages emotions. The game uses the post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies to explore the human conditions which makes it one of the most meaningful titles of its generation of consoles.
Unlike most of the titles on this list, Alan Wake is both a survival horror game and a psychological one. In the game, you assume the role of writer Alan Wake after he traveled with his wife to the small town of Bright Falls, but as soon as arrives, his wife mysteriously disappears. Recurring nightmares, episodic structure, stunning visuals and memorable moments make Alan Wake a nightmare, you don’t want to wake up from.
Equal parts action and survival horror game, Dead Space puts you in the shoes of Isaac Clarke, an engineer who goes to a mining ship in order to try and save his girlfriend. But soon after entering the space ship, Isaac founds out that the interstellar place has been invaded by reanimated human corpses known as Necromorphs. Its cinematic qualities, nail-biting moments, terrific sound design and convincing atmosphere, make Dead Space an amazing shooter and an even better survival horror game.
Resident Evil 4
For me personally, Resident Evil 4 is the pinnacle of the series and it’ll be difficult for Capcom (or for most developers for that matter) to replicate the tremendous success of the game. In this adventure, Leon S. Kennedy is sent to rescue the president’s daughter and to unravel the mystery behind the sinister cult that kidnapped the teenager. Wait, you’re telling me that Resident Evil 4 was more action-oriented and that it wasn’t that scary? Let me answer your question with another question? Do you remember the feeling of anxiety you got whenever you heard the chainsaw-wielding monster? I thought so…
Silent Hill was conceived after the success of the Resident Evil series. But the former quickly became different to most games in the genre by not following conventions. Silent Hill combines muddled graphics, B-movie qualities, psychological style of horror and limited gameplay into a visceral experience that’s both hard to play and hard to get away from.
Everyone who’s played BioShock remembers the first encounter with a Big Daddy and the first time you either harvested or rescued a Little Sister. Although not a traditional survival horror game, its eerie sound design and frightening atmosphere will make sure that you turn around quickly now and then to see if there’s something behind you.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Unlike most psychological horror games, Condemned puts more emphasis on mêlée combat than on gun play and that’s makes the game thrilling and brutal at the same time. In terms of gameplay, there’s also gathering of evidence and light puzzle-solving. Additionally, fans of horror films we’ll see that Condemned has been influenced by popular movies like Silence of the Lambs and Seven.
Doom 3 might be a lot of things, but this is still a terrifying game. It may not have a lot in common with previous games in the series, but it does have an unsettling atmosphere, terrifying creatures and horrifying presentation.