While genuine scares are stressful, there’s something oddly satisfying about enjoying such jumps and thrills through a movie, novel, or game. Many of us like to be scared within a safe environment.
With Halloween fast approaching, here are ten horror games guaranteed to make you twitchy-and just a little warier of that scary noise you hear late at night.
The Alien movies have always done a great job of being incredibly tense and throwing in more than a few jumps and frights. Rarely have its tie-in games managed that same effect. That is until Alien: Isolaton came out in 2014. Set 15 years after the original movie, it follows the story of Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, as she tries to figure out what happened to her mother. There’s a strong focus on surviving and sneaking your way around, rather than going on the offensive. Outsmarting the aliens is everything here, invoking memories of the tense original movie. Being so vulnerable is what makes Alien: Isolation so enticing.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
A much lower budget than many games on this list, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is no less scary. You’re exploring a dark and foreboding castle that’s so unnerving your very sanity is tested. Besides offering a health bar, you also have a sanity bar with it soon decreasing if you spend too long in the dark. Visual and auditory hallucinations kick in during such moments, fully ensuring that you’re pretty unnerved in no time. Oh, and there are no weapons so you’re extremely vulnerable.
BioShock rarely goes for big jumps. Instead, it gradually gets under your skin. Set in the underwater city of Rapture, little is told about what’s going on at first. Instead, you have to explore the city full of drugged up crazies, spooky children, and fearsome Big Daddies-massive robotic style creatures out for vengeance. The more you learn about what’s really going on, the more sinister it all becomes.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
One of the early hits for the Xbox 360, it’s easy to forget about Condemned: Criminal Origins. Unless you’ve played it-then it’s impossible to forget. A mostly grimy game, it’s one particular sequence within a shop full of mannequins that’s really going to stick in your mind. Are they ‘just’ mannequins or are they actually out to get you? You can probably guess, but it’s no less unnerving to find out.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
Twins, a Japanese setting, ghosts, and an abandoned village. Does Fatal Frame II really need anything more to scare you? Probably not. Originally for the PlayStation 2 but now available through PSN, Fatal Frame II is an atmospheric game of puzzles and terror, with you tracking down ghosts through a special camera. Many have suggested it’s the scariest game ever.
Five Nights at Freddy’s series
Working as a night guard at a pizzeria doesn’t sound so bad, but Five Nights at Freddy’s soon changes that perspective. A lot of this is down to the pizzeria’s use of animatronic characters that sing and dance by day, and wander the restaurant at night. Tapping into childhood fears, you have to use light to ward them off, with the darkness engulfing you otherwise.
Set in a dilapidated psychiatric hospital overrun by homicidal patients, you can see why Outlast would be scary. You’re mostly running and hiding from such people with only your wits, a notebook, and a camcorder to help you in any way. That camcorder serves the purpose of turning this game into a kind of ‘found footage’ experience, further enhancing the terror you’ll soon feel.
Silent Hill 2
All the Silent Hill games are deeply unnerving but it’s the second one that really gets under your skin. You play James Sutherland, a bereaved man bent on finding out what really happened to his wife. The emotions are raw already, with the suggestion that some of the monsters within the game stem from James’s tortured subconscious. Weapons are hard to come by, enhancing how vulnerable you end up feeling.
The newest release here, Soma takes place on an underwater remote research facility, full of machinery that’s slowly taking on human characteristics. The game builds upon this inherent fear of the unknown, with tension soon accumulating rather than big jumps and shocks. It’s from the makers of Amnesia: The Dark Descent so the focus is on exploration rather than combat. Not being able to fight back makes it all the more unnerving.
The Evil Within
Negotiating various nightmarish scenarios is what will keep you on your toes in The Evil Within. Scavenging for supplies and simply surviving is a big part of the game, as you do anything to survive. It’s a fairly scripted experience in places, but the increasingly blood-thirsty horror that awaits you does a great job of distracting you from the structure.