In honor of this year’s Halloween I wanted to countdown the top 10 scariest video games that I have played personally. Unfortunately: The Evil Within, Outlast, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Slender:The Eight Pages, Five Nights at Freddy’s, Jeff The Killer, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, Resident Evil Remake, System Shock 2, Doom 3, the Fatal Frame games, Clock Tower series and F.E.A.R are going to be discounted because I did not play them. I also will not count a video game that I played for a minute, yes I’m talking about you Alien Isolation at NY Comic Con. I also will not be including SCP Contamination Breach or Siren because I did not play them long enough. And finally I will not add any demo or unfinished video games like P.T., sorry. Before I slice off this top 10, press the play button on the Halloween Theme Extended video below and begin the journey. Boo-ho-ha-ha…
Number 10 – Friday the 13th for NES (1989)
This may come as a surprise since looking back at it now is laughable; the colorful 8-bit 2 Dimensional graphics and the meeting with Jason in his purple outfit. However, at the time that I played this in the early to mid-90’s I was only a child. What used to scare me about this game was the constant beeping noise every time a kid was in danger. Imported on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, the same from the Super Mario Bros. era, Friday the 13th follows the characters of the camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake. You choose which counselor to be as you stroll down the dirt paths filled with ghouls, bats and zombies armed with only rocks, sticks and flying daggers. Trying to navigate through the campgrounds is almost impossible because the map on the screen is extremely unhelpful. When you walk to the right, it shows you went left on the map, if you go up it shows you went right. So deciphering the map is one of the fundamental keys to surviving and winning. Then when that beeping noise goes off you better get to a house with a kid in it before Jason gets to him or her. Being pressed for time adds an additional level of anxiety and once you do get inside a house, creepy music ensues as you search each room for a kid or Jason standing over a bloody corpse. Either way, the void of not knowing where or when Jason was going to pop up increased the fear factor. It is similar to why the first Jaws was so terrifying, because you actually did not see the monster until the very end. Imagination was left to our minds that this murderous being was patrolling the water depths. Going back to the game, most of the time you were hoping to not run into Jason, because usually you were not prepared to fight him yet. You needed to collect better weapons first. Another major thing you had to do was go inside the dark cave then fight and kill the floating head which I believe is Jason’s mother. I never got that far as what usually would happen is either all the kids would get killed or all my camp counselors would be picked off one by one; game over. If you were to play it today, it would not compare to any of the modern 3-D scary games of today, but was good for it’s 2-D era.
Number 9 – Resident Evil 2 for PlayStation (1998)
The first Resident Evil may have got most people into the survival horror gaming genre, but Resident Evil 2 was what got me into it. At the age of 9 I was playing my first truly horrifying game by myself. Friday the 13th was a lost dream at this point as I was fighting for my life with each room; killing countless zombies, zombie dogs, bats, lickers, plants, moths, mutant monsters and Tyrants. Resident Evil 2 was the reason I became a huge fan of the zombie genre. This third-person view game taught me how to organize items, condense things in space and above all else to be overly cautious of sleeping zombies or magic mirrors. Backtracking and figuring out the puzzles also made the game that much more challenging. Not knowing what was going to happen next made the experience chilling. PlayStation was a pioneer in advancing graphics from its 2-D predecessors like Sega Genesis, NES and Super Nintendo (SNES). The game gives you the option to either play as rookie Raccoon City Police Department cop (R.P.D) Leon S. Kennedy or Chris Redfield’s (S.T.A.R.S survivor from the first Resident Evil) younger sister Claire Redfield (each with their own disc). I always started with Leon because he’s more of a bad-ass. The game pins you in the heart of a city overrun by the undead after an outbreak of the T-Virus. You race to get to the Raccoon City Police Department building either to find out what’s going on (Leon) or to locate your brother (Claire). As you run through the debilitated streets of Raccoon City you encounter an overwhelming number of zombies who won’t hesitate to bit your neck, chew at your leg or outnumber and overpower you. The best thing to do in order to save ammunition is to run through the first part like a training course; dodging the zombies that are avoidable while shooting at ones that stand in your way. This was the first time I played a game with such a realistic background. The background and creepy soundtrack added the potential of doom and horror. The real game happens inside the R.P.D building with its abundant number of rooms, herbs lying around, storage boxes, save rooms with typewriters (ah…) and seemingly large number of jump scares. After the police station, you go further underground into the sewage system until making it to the final chapter at the Laboratory where all the Bio-Weapon experiments were held. The end leaves with a cinematic feeling. The strategically placed camera angles gave you the sense of someone watching you while also providing the unknown of what lurked around each corner. These graphics however are a bit outdated and pix-elated. Regardless, the Resident Evil 2 atmosphere along with the terrible acting makes for a great horror video game. Playing it today still has a slight effect on me and is another reason why it is one of my favorite video games to date.
Number 8 – Left 4 Dead for Xbox 360 and PC (2008)
The second zombie video game on our list and certainly not the last. This came out during a time when the fast zombies were popular. Such films as 28 Days Later (2002) and the remake to Dawn of the Dead (2004) greatly inspired this pump action horror video game. This video game was scary in the sense that in any moment you would be overtaken by a horde of blood thirsty zombies. It was the first time I felt rewarded for decapitating the heads of the undead with my shotgun. Also having the game in first-person added to the realism. What made the game even scarier were the special powered infected like The Hunter, The Tank and The Witch. The Hunter would scale the buildings and then lunge at you from a distance inexplicably incapacitating you until one of your friends helped. The Tank was like a demented Incredible Hulk stomping and crushing everything in its path as it charged at you with rage. The Witch was a creature you wanted to stay as far away from. I remember my friend constantly freaking out whenever he would hear the crying of The Witch. It had glowing eyes, pale skin and long claws. I don’t exactly know what it did, but if you woke her up usually she would kill you in one or two hits. Usually it was smart to just by pass her without engaging or attacking. Overall, it was one of the most fun horror games I have played but does not compare to the fear that was installed in the games further down this list.
Number 7 – CarnEvil for the Arcade (1998)
If you’re deathly afraid of clowns, this one sure will give you the creeps. During a summer vacation at Villa Roma I played this game with my close friend Mike until we wore out the shotgun game controllers and after we spent a hefty amount of quarters. This rail shooter Arcade game takes you on a haunted hay ride bringing you to a haunted house, dungeon, fun house, carnival, theme park and a blimp. Each level features boss characters ranging from a similar Jason character from Friday the 13th, a witch-like nurse, demented Santa Claus, giant deformed infant, floating clown head and a French ticket taker. The game is constantly throwing things at you and if you’re not a sharp shooting master you will be adding new coins and pressing continue in no time. Throughout the entire game circus music plays as elements of dark humor are instilled. What makes this game scary is the essence of creepiness. I’m just glad I do not have a fear of clowns or else this game would be a nightmare. Check out the walk-through below.
Number 6 – Exmortis 1 & 2 for PC (2004)
This point and click adventure/horror game is by far the scariest flash game I have ever played. It’s also free if you ever want to check it out. I counted both since each game takes about 30 minutes to complete. Exmortis begins where you wake up with amnesia in the woods near a creepy old wooden house. As you click your way inside the house and through each room, you begin to unfold a horrifying massacre mystery that is tied to a cult. I am always someone who dislikes the idea of demonic cults because they are very much real and have existed throughout history. After witnessing a number of gory and frightening images you make your way to the basement where you have to make a decision. You can either fight the demonic being within the cult symbol or escape. You’re better off fighting, but you can only win if you memorize the phrase from the puzzle with all the clues in each room of the house. If you try to escape you will get a jump scare in the woods and be brought back to the beginning, waking up in the woods near an old wooden house and not remembering a thing.
Exmortis 2 occurs after the events of the first one in which the Exmortis cult tries to take over the world with their flying demonic beings in the sky. You start out at a church until the game tells that you need to get in the car and leave or else the cult will descend upon you. Ironically, I played this game first and was scared by the urgency of escaping unknown doom. You eventually make it to a mansion in the middle of the country to which the rest of the setting for the game takes place. Once again like in the first game, you are confronted with challenging puzzles (one such as completing a dead man’s Sudoku) as well as finding out what happened with all these corpses laying around. In order to progress further in the game you’re succumbed to suicide where you turn into a more powerful being that is able to kill a demon god. Eventually, you meet the master of all the exmortis who thanks you for disposing his enemies. This long haired man in a black trench coat eventually tricks you and kills you with a final scare. Like the first one there were a lot of creatures coming at the screen to scare you. For a flash game it did a good job of making me jump.
Number 5 – Resident Evil 4 for PlayStation 2 (2004)
Coming from the similar story-line of a crazed cult, Resident Evil 4 re-invented the franchise with the over-the-shoulder view and advanced close quarters combat. This was also the first time that a Resident Evil game lacked backtracking and those massive storage boxes. This time you were able to buy weapons, accessories and upgrades from a strange ‘Merchant’. Resident Evil 4 is the first game in the franchise to not feature zombies but infected cult people instead. The events of this game happen six years after the nuclear bombing of Raccoon City. You are once again Leon S. Kennedy thrown on a mission to save the kidnapped President’s daughter Ashley Graham residing somewhere in Spain. The cult named Los Illuminados led by Lord Osmund Sadler is home to the creation of a new virus called Las Plagas. Unlike the T and G Viruses, the Las Plagas is an advanced chemically engineered bio-weapon that enables its hosts to remain in their normal state while having the ability to be controlled. So don’t be fooled by the loss of zombies because these new threats bring a new level of difficulty and terror. From the very beginning at the village you are defending off a mob of people armed with pitch forks, torches, knives and a chainsaw. The game uses a laser pointer aim scheme which deters from past Resident Evil games that only gave you the option of aiming down, up or middle. Head shots are you’re best bet as it will decapitate and sometimes spawn a creature from beneath their spines. Once you find Ashley, it is your job to keep her alive and well. Adding that extra level of responsibility made the game even more challenging because it left you invulnerable at times. There were several horrifying moments when you were being chased by giant monsters and creatures. The addition of the quick-time events made for a more brutally exciting and action packed experience. The scariest part of this game in my opinion were the Regeneradors and Iron Maidens. These lengthy alien like beings would steadily walk towards you, breathing heavily and would kill you if they got too close. Shooting them regularly would never work because they’re body parts would just instantly regrow. So the only way to take one out would be to use the infrared scope to find where the parasites resided in their bodies and to eliminate them. The Iron Maidens will shoot its spikes at you. Eventually, once you destroy all parasites they will explode. If you keep your distance and aim well you should be able to take one out. Besides all these features and epic boss battles, it also tells a great story that makes it one of the best in the series.
Number 4: Alone In the Dark: The New Nightmare for PlayStation (2001)
Alone In the Dark: The New Nightmare is the fourth installment for the ‘grandfather of survival horror video games’. It came out during the transition from PlayStation to PlayStation 2 and expanded on multiple platforms, even on PC. For many years it has seemed that Resident Evil and Silent Hill have dwarfed this franchise to comparison. Although, this game borrows elements from those series’ even though they borrowed from them (funny), Alone In the Dark: The New Nightmare still makes for a very scary game. I remember playing this on the PlayStation and still being scared even after years of survival horror gaming exposure. This game tackles another element of fear, such as darkness. As light and dark become their own separate themes. You use these two elements as tools to get you through puzzles, obstacles and to scare the crap out of you when a room that was once empty is suddenly occupied by a gang of the undead, ghoulish creatures or other demonic beings. This game has the same layout as the first Resident Evil games and the first few Silent Hill‘s with over-the-head camera angles. And instead of the character being surrounded by hordes of zombies in an urban setting, you’re far from civilization and in a place close to the appearance of Transylanvia, where Dracula lives and reigns supreme. However, do not get too excited or worried because you won’t be encountering Dracula, Wolfman or Frankenstein anytime soon. Instead your biggest enemy is some old ghostly man. It has an ambiguous ending that really makes no sense. As far as the plot goes you either play as Edward Carnby, a paranormal detective or Aline Cedric a young university professor who joins Carnby on the investigation of unearthing three ancient tablets and finding who murdered Edward’s best friend and partner Charles Fiske who was found dead on Shadow Island, off the coast of Massachusetts. So both of you get separated after your plane goes down. What makes this game very creepy is the dark environment and the void of not knowing what is front of you.
Number 3 – The Last of Us from PlayStation 3 (2013)
I won’t say much about The Last of Us because I have already written a detailed review about it in a previous post. Here is the link to that article, https://anthonyvecch.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/a-look-into-video-game-the-last-of-us/. What I will say is that the infected runners and clickers are terrifying because it brings a dreadful feeling of realism. As I played the more intense moments in the game, I felt like I was really surviving and living in a dystopian world similar to 28 Days Later, I Am Legend and The Walking Dead. Those crucial moments of survival went from blowing the head off an infected to getting violently bit. Besides Naughty Dog making their first horror game, they also managed to make one of the best games ever created.
Number 2 – Dead Space for PlayStation 3 (2008)
This Science Fiction survival horror game gives you a sense of imminent hopelessness. As they say, “no one can here you scream in space”. I would have to apply that saying to this game. You play as Isaac, an anti-social and mute astronaut who goes on a rescue mission only to find out that the ship and crew have been replaced by long-legged necromancers. These things are nasty and tough to kill. As it is marked in blood in the screenshot above, the best way to kill the first necromancers is by cutting off their limbs. Dead Space takes right from the inspiration of the Alien films and Event Horizon. Each enemy possesses a slight disadvantage for you to only figure out by trial and error. So I’ve died several times. Besides the intergalactic weapons you have in your stash or what you can buy at the space store, you also develop powers like telekinesis and stasis that slows enemies down. Stasis really comes in handy when you have about four necromancers charging at you. You even have to use your noggin at times when revitalizing the spaceships technological systems. You enter anti-gravity chambers and even vacuums that diminish your air tank. Every so often you will get a Skype call from a few of your crew members giving further direction and highlighting your progression in the game. This game constantly keeps you on your toes with every waking moment of terror behind each corner. I’ve found myself numerous times getting through one section wasting the majority of my ammo to then getting to another section that was just as difficult and with just as many enemies. Ammunition is very scarce and a lot of times you need to use your wit and your environment to get you through. Remember it’s all about survival, not killing every single enemy that you encounter. I had to learn that the hard way unfortunately. I have yet to complete the game due to its difficulty and intense game-play. There are moments in the game that will trick you into thinking you are safe when suddenly, duh duh duh, you’re head comes flying off. Who would have known that space zombies and monsters are more terrifying that just regular ones. This game has had my heart rate go up and has had made me jump and scream aloud. I highly recommend this game to anyone who wants to try a different kind of survival horror.
Now finally for our number one scariest game I have ever played (for a long enough time). Drum roll please…
Number 1 – Silent Hill 2 for PlayStation 2 (2001)
This psychological survival horror game really messed with my mind. Silent Hill 2 begins with James Sunderland who goes to the nightmarish town of Silent Hill after he gets a letter from his dead wife Mary. Regardless of how creepy that already sounds with tons of red flags, he goes in pursuit of her anyway. James meets a sexy young version of Mary, Maria, who helps guide him on his journey until it appears she has been killed by a serial killer wielding a broad sword known as, ‘Pyramid Head’. Surprisingly, you run into a very much alive Maria behind a jail cell later on. That sort of ambiguity and confusion is what adds to the already terrifying atmosphere. Even James who is having the worst day of his life seems to be a bit too overly calm. The game-play gives off an eerie environment that includes an abandoned town filled with dense fog, breathing hallways, random screams, sounds of machines turning on, ghostly horses and deformed zombies. You even get the conscious feeling of being watched as the chills on your spine vibrate while your levels of anxiety rise to the roof. You encounter the Pyramid Head on several occasions until you find out in the end (spoiler alert) that James murdered his wife Mary and that the Pyramid Heads (there’s two) were sent to punish him of his misdeeds. The entire town encompasses James’ own torment, a sort of self-imprisonment or own form of hell and purgatory. I remember my sister’s husband at the time who was a big video gamer and much older than me that resisted playing this game and advised me to stay away from it. Through human curiosity I ignored him, was scared to shit but eventually felt rewarded when I beat the game and defeated the evil, even if the evil was within the main character himself. I love this game and feel that it trumps everything I’ve played throughout the years. We will have to wait and see if Hideo Kojima’s and Guillermo Del Toro’s up-and-coming Silent Hills will dethrone Silent Hill 2. You can check out my review for the demo titled, P.T. here, https://anthonyvecch.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/p-t-review-alert-spoilers-ahead/. Lastly, listen to the Silent Hill theme song below this.
Let me know what you thought. Do You think Silent Hill 2 is one of the scariest video games ever made? Write in the comments below. Also, I would like to not forget some honorable mentions such as: Silent Hill, Resident Evil Code Veronica X, Resident Outbreak/File #2, House of the Dead series, Devil May Cry, Dead Island and Juggernaut. Thank you for reading and enjoy your holiday. I’m going to now get up, put on my costume and head into the city. Have a Happy Halloween!