Halloween has come and gone, but let’s still celebrate by playing some of the best horror video games ever made. Although the horror genre has always been really popular, over the past few years there was a revival with several new titles coming out on a regular basis. As a consequence, making sure that every sub-genre is represented on this list, including both classics and new titles proved to be quite difficult. If you feel like some of your favorite games were overlooked or if you disagree with any of the entries on this list, make sure you let me know in the comments below. Also, let me know which is your favorite horror game and why.
10. Fatal Frame
Fatal Frame (known in Japan simply as Zero) is set in the year 1986 and you play as Miku Hinasaki who goes to an abandoned haunted mansion to look for his brother who has been missing for a few weeks. The story sounds generic, but the game has a mechanic that makes it stand out from its peers: the Camera Obscura. Thanks to this gameplay element, you can take pictures of your enemies and defeat them. As you capture more ghosts, you gain more abilities and making use of the antique camera creatively is necessary to finish the game. Fatal Frame is available on the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PlayStation Network.
9. Left 4 Dead
Maybe not the most obvious choice, but Left 4 Dead deserves a spot on this list nonetheless. Left 4 Dead is completely different to most other survival horror games in the sense that you can play this cooperatively with a couple of friends. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make the situation a walk in the park or anything like that. Fighting your way through hordes of zombies is one of the most memorable and exasperating video game moments you can have and that’s an amazing feeling for a horror game to have.
8. Condemned: Criminal Origins
Condemned: Criminal Origins is a first-person survival horror game that puts emphasis on melee combat and puzzle-solving in the form of information-gathering and fingerprint-search. At the time of its release, the reviews were moderately good, but as time went by this title gained a cult following. Clearly inspired by The Silent of the Lambs and Seven, this unique take on the survival horror genre is worth checking out if you want to be part of intense hand-to-hand combat.
7. Alan Wake
The story of Alan Wake follows the titular character after he travels to a fictional town called Bright Falls where he expects to find the inspiration he needs to keep writing a novel. Soon after arriving to this place, his wife goes missing and he starts witnessing some bizarre events that change his life forever. Alan Wake is brimming with personality thanks to the authentic environments, solid combat mechanics, fantastic episodic structure and excellent pace. In other words, no fan of horror should miss this game.
6. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a combination of action-adventure, first-person shooter, stealth and survival horror and the result is an ambitious project that no fan of the source material (H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu universe) should overlook. Set in the year 1992, the game puts you in the shoes of a mentally unstable private detective called Jack Walters as he investigates a missing persons case that takes him to strange American town in the middle of nowhere. Although recognized by fans and critics as one of the best of its kind, the game was a financial failure.
5. Silent Hill
One of the survival games that changed it all. Ever since the first Silent Hill came out, the genre has never been the same. Although at the time of its release this seemed like a Resident Evil clone, everyone who managed to stay until the end realized that this third-person game was much more. The B-movie horror elements, “everyman” characteristics of the protagonist, disturbing atmosphere and psychological style of horror make Silent Hill easy to recommend to fans of the genre even to this day.
4. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
If you like horror video games and you usually find yourself looking for more games to play, Eternal Darkness must have come up several times during your research and that’s because this GameCube exclusive is one of the best psychological horror games ever made. Without making reference to specifics, one of the best parts about the game is that you can explore different time periods, as well as navigate through some “sanity effects” which not only look good, but are also really creative. If you’re willing to track down a GameCube, you should definitely check out Eternal Darkness.
Amnesia: Dark Descent became massively popular thanks to YouTube. Of course, there were definitely other reasons why this independent horror title was played by so many players, but at one point, there were some many people recording themselves yelling in front of cameras that it was almost impossible to escape. In the game, you play as a man named Daniel (who, as the title suggests, suffers from amnesia) as he explores a dark castle that’s inhabited by hostile creatures that can kill you if you look at them long enough. The best parts about the game is that the only way to avoid these creatures is through stealth or by hiding and at no point do you have access to weapons that can kill them. This made the experience frightening as hell and if you don’t believe me, dig up some of those old videos.
2. Dead Space
In Dead Space, you assume the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer who battles necromorphs in a space station as he attempts to rescue his girlfriend before the reanimated human corpses aboard the mining ship kill her. Dead Space was a nail-biting experience from beginning to end and what this title did in terms of atmosphere was amazing. The setting was inspired, the mechanics were creative, the script was entertaining and the enemies were disturbing. Despite receiving two sequels, none of those games achieved the the same level of critical-acclaim as the original Dead Space.
Resident Evil 2 might have been a fantastic survival horror game that few fans of the genre missed back in the day, but it was the fourth entry in the series the one that brought Resident Evil back on the map. Resident Evil 4 was more action-oriented, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t several scares to be had. The use of third-person view, great voice acting and memorable characters make this game replayable to this day and the fact that a high-definition version is available makes it tempting to both newcomers and seasoned fans.
Ultimately, several titles didn’t make to the final version of the article because this is a top ten after all, but fans of the genre should definitely check out some of the following: Five Nights at Freddy’s, Slender: The Eight Pages, The Evil Within, Outlast, Alien: Isolation, Penumbra, Until Dawn, Dying Light, The Last of Us, F.E.A.R. and BioShock.