Another Halloween has arrived as creepy costumes and carved pumpkins flood social media, we have decided to add to the festival with a top five list of our favourite horror games. As good as horror shows and movies can be, to me, nothing is as scary as a good horror game that you willingly subject yourself to as you trawl through dungeons and empty graveyards. From jump scares to death scares, horror games can be a thrilling experience.
#5 – Among the Sleep
Coming in at number five, we have Among the Sleep developed by Krillbite Studio. A strange indie horror that tackles the idea of fear from a unique perspective. You play as a two-year-old, toddling around your dark, confusing house. You’re not equipped with much; just your trusty stuffed bear, Teddy, who calmly guides you throughout the house. As a toddler, the perspective is locked to a character about two and a half feet high, and to traverse your own house you must crawl, stumble, and drag chairs around to climb.
Everything is confusing, and overwhelming, and bigger than you. The fear in Among the Sleep comes from the very real uncertainty of childhood, and plays upon the fact that, as a baby, you have almost no agency. Scary moments fog your vision, and pretty often you are overwhelmed by the dark, mysterious monster chasing you around the house.
Among the Sleep isn’t perfect, but I recommend it if you want an interesting deviation from the same traditional horror games that AAA studios churn out.
Available on: Windows, OS X, Linux, PS4, Xbox One.
#4 – Resident Evil 4
In at number four we have Resident Evil 4 developed by Capcom, a difficult choice from one of the most influential horror series around. Resident Evil 4 is a survival horror that finds Leon Kennedy travelling to rural Spain to rescue the president’s daughter, Ashley Graham, who has been kidnapped by a demonic cult.
The camera follows directly over Leon’s shoulder, making the player adjust their sights for every shot. Once you retrieve Ashley, you’ll also be responsible for taking care of her – making sure she’s constantly out of harm’s way from the hordes of cult members after you. It’ll involve plenty of yelling and stuffing her in boxes, crates, and dumpsters.
Resident Evil 4 garnered critical acclaim and pioneered the ‘over the shoulder’ third-person perspective. If you’re wondering where a lot of horror influences came from in the genre, look no further than Resident Evil 4.
Available on: Windows, iOS, Android, PS4, Xbox One, Wii, GameCube.
#3 – Silent Hill 2
At number three we have a landmark in psychological horror, Silent Hill 2 developed by the now defunct Team Silent. The game follows James Sunderland who arrives in Silent Hill, Maine after receiving a letter from Mary, his wife. However, his wife died three years prior.
Silent Hill in particular uses darkness to magnify the fear and sense of unease as you are surrounded by the dead of the darkness with only a flashlight and a radio to keep you company. However, its Silent Hill’s evocative storytelling that addresses human psychology, pain, mental illness, existentialism and death that really elevates the game beyond jump scares and abandoned buildings.
Available on: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360.
Honourable Mention: Silent Hill’s P.T (Playable Teaser)
Potentially the scariest instalment of the franchise, P.T departs from the conventional third-person of Silent Hill, and puts you in the first-person as an invisible, silent intruder in a random house. With frightening noises and bizarre puzzles, it becomes unsettling as you walk the same circular path, over and over again. Directed and designed by Hideo Kojima in close collaboration with Guillermo Del Toro, the teaser showed immense potential; however it wasn’t to be as the project died after a falling out with the publisher, Konami.
#2 – Until Dawn
At number two we have our first interactive survival horror game developed by Supermassive Games. Until Dawn revolves around the teenage antics of eight friends who decide to vacation in an isolated cabin on Blackwood Mountain; it goes exactly as well as it sounds like it would. The fantastic cast includes Rami Malek, Hayden Panettiere and Peter Stormare.
With a psychopathic murderer on the loose and zombie-like Wendigos, you have to survive the night as you alternate between each character. Among the clues you have to discover and collect is a intuitive flash forward mechanic that vaguely warns you of a terrible event or death that looms in your future, you have to figure out how to avoid it.
Until Dawn uses the Butterfly effect to construct the storyline as every decision can have unforeseen consequences for said characters further down the line.
It’s possible to keep all eight characters alive or dead at the end of the night. It all comes down to the player. If you’ve ever screamed at the TV during a horror movie pointing out the bad decisions that the characters inevitably make, Until Dawn gives you the chance to put your horror survival skills to the test.
Available on: Exclusive to PS4.
#1 – Bloodborne
*Drumroll* And my personal favourite at number one, we have Bloodborne developed by FromSoftware. Along with the Dark Souls trilogy, Bloodborne is famous for being insanely difficult to beat and I assure you that’s not the only fear inducer, though being hyper-aware and cautious because of its difficulty definitely doesn’t help. Bloodborne is primarily an action role-playing game; the horror aspect is woven through every fibre of the storytelling, lore and worldbuilding.
Inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft and Bram Stoker, Bloodborne takes place in a decrepit Gothic city called Yharnam. As you arrive, you discover an endemic affliction that transforms citizens into beasts. The player is forced to participate in The Hunt in order to overcome the deranged inhabitants and monsters and put a stop to the plague and escape the nightmare. As you slay enemies you collect the currency of Bloodborne which is Blood Echoes. Upon death you drop all of your Blood Echoes and the only way to retrieve them is to return to your location of death, die before you reach them, and trust me there is a lot of dying; they are lost forever.
With fast-paced combat and agile movements, the player’s primary form of defence is offence. When the cost of death is so high, being forced to attack relentless hoards of monsters charging at you can be quite thrilling.
Available on: Exclusive to PS4.
Honourable Mention: The Dark Souls trilogy.
Also created by Hidetaka Miyazaki, the Dark Souls trilogy is thrice the dread and thrice the horror. If you like Bloodborne, it’s worth checking it out.
Written in collaboration with Amber Brown Rodgers.
What are some of your favourite horror games?