Halloween is this weekend, and while most seek their thrills through haunted houses and films, others prefer to take on video games. This week we look at some of the best horror games to be made in no particular order of preference.
Alien Isolation (2014) Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, PC
This game embodies what the film that it follows did. A great stealth and scavenge survival horror game that pits Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen, against not just the seemingly invincible Alien, but human and android foes also. With an adaptive learning system built in to the game, everything learns as you do, and fearfully evokes a feeling of suspense right until the end. All these games have the element of control and choice and it is what you do that makes the difference, which is why we start the list off with this game that was possibly one of the best of 2014.
Resident Evil (1996) PS1, Gamecube, PC, Xbox One, PS4
Put simply, this is the progenitor of the modern survival horror game. Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine are the roles you assume among an elite S.T.A.R.S. team of survivors that are forced to scrounge for resources such as ammo and health while battling or evading lethal monstrosities like zombies and weaponised, reptilian and canine assassins. The 2015 Xbox One edition refined the PlayStation original’s terrifying premise while updating and overhauling graphics and nativity like acting that did not dampen the eerie atmosphere that provided unforgettable scares like ravenous dogs smashing through windows, which spawned a legion of masochistic fans and dozens of copycat developers. A game that gave us sequels of inconsistent quality and films to date, this is still the go to for anyone who wishes to see how the genre was built.
Silent Hill (1999) PS1
Back in 1999, Resident Evil was pinnacle of survival horror, and then came Silent Hill from Konami. Trademark fog obscured everything and made you rely on the sounds around you. Armed with not enough ammo and a static radio that went off to alert you of enemies like the motion detectors in Aliens,
The game had a clever way of keeping you on edge. It forced you out into the street with only two bullets in your gun—the sound of flying monsters growing louder or fading away as you ambled across the deserted thoroughfare. You were always outmatched in any fight. Seeing the monsters only made things worse. Silent Hill tried to get inside your head – within the first half-hour, you’ve already been led down a eerie alleyway and ambushed by mutant baby things, who presume to murder you alive no matter how hard you try to escape. While Resident Evil did possess a psychological element, it depended on gore, and while Silent Hill has its share, it is certainly a more disturbing venture for any gamer as right until its end, and again after many sequels and films, is a game that resonated with anyone who enjoyed this genre.
F.E.A.R (2005) Xbox 360, PS3, PC
First Encounter Assault Recon, or F.E.A.R is the unit you belong to in a first person shooter that lends heavy inspiration from Asian Horror classics such as The Ring and The Grudge. The “Fear” aspect of the game is embodied in the form of “Alma”. She is not unlike Sadako from the Ring series. The creepiness of little girls with supernatural ability is harnessed well during a game where the main character suffers hallucinations. F.E.A.R. provides one thing that other gun filled, fast paced action, super solider horror games don’t, in that the character you are playing is constantly unnerved. The slight sway of his gun and the shallowness of his breathing during and after these nightmare events make you believe they are happening and the character is vulnerable to having his mind utterly shattered. Ultimately, when playing the game will you find yourself distracted by trying to catch what might be there with your peripheral vision? F.E.A.R is a great addition to this list, and is simply a game that has to be included.
Dead Space (2008) Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Let us be clear about what makes a gaming experience so immersive and terrifying in the horror genre, it is the ability to channel your fears just as cinema or storytelling does. More often than not, the hero is not in fact “a” hero. Event Horizon is one film that can portray just how messed up things can get in space just as Alien made you feel like no one will hear you scream. Isaac Clarke has to make do with his skills as a ship engineer with a simple cutting laser when the starship he boards turns out to be infested with horrors called necromorphs, who happen to be the reanimated corpses of former colleagues. Your mission is simple as you attempt to rescue your girlfriend, but as anyone will tell you, simple never means easy. With moments like the “tumble dryer” (which anyone who has played will know) Dead Space has become the master of the jump scare, it gave you the uneasy feeling the whole time you were in it that the ship would fall apart right under your feet, and if you make a mistake, a gruesome death scene would follow. You are then planted back in the lonely, dark corridors of the USG Ishimura with scary sound and level design that emulates classics such as The Thing and more so, the definitive outer space-horror game experience.
Other games you could check out: Dying Light, Slender, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Outlast, Manhunt
– Ian Dunne, Correspondent (Tech)