I’m justifying this list because Pacific Rim is being released today and I view it as an incredible video game movie because of how fantastic the Kaiju/Jaeger battles are. Also, it’s almost Halloween, so this list needs to be fear-centered. With that I give you the 5 most horrific video games I’ve played.
Now, if you’ve never played a survival horror game, you may look at this list and wonder how anyone could be afraid of a video game. Horror movies can, and should, be scary, but you always get to watch someone else make bad decisions and get killed off from the safety of your couch. Games involving horror, however, make you the lead character who has no choice but to foolishly investigate the tapping on the window. The fear you feel when playing a horror game is far worse when you are being stalked and you can’t stop looking behind you with your only weapon, a flashlight with low batteries.
5 – Siren
This PS2 game was also remastered and released on the PS3 as Siren: Blood Curse. It had a few story/character changes (Think Evil Dead to Evil Dead 2, but without the humor). In Siren, you play as a teenage boy who stumbles upon a sacrificial ceremony and you intervenes and manage to save a teenage girl. Though, the girl you saved isn’t just an ordinary girl. She is meant to be sacrificed to awaken an evil god, and eventually is. The siren (hence the title) is actually a literal thing. At the worst possible times, the siren will ring and beckon its followers to the blood red river and turn them into supernatural zombies called Shibito. This is a very Japanese game and you know what that means… ghost women with long black hair stalking you throughout a haunted village that you’ll never escape from.
The reason this game is so incredibly scary is that you’ll be walking around a forest and you’re trying to be as quiet as possible. Just then, you’ll view yourself through another perspective. You see through the eyes of a Shibito and are being stalked. I, personally, don’t like seeing myself through a monster’s eyes as I’m about to be killed. You don’t have much defense against the Shibito, so you have to preserve your flashlight and sneak around quietly, otherwise they’ll find you and summon the other Shibito around you to strangle, maim or basically destroy your soul.
4 – Amnesia: The Dark Descent
In Amnesia, you play as Daniel, a self-induced amnesiac who tries to survive the horrors as he awakens in a Prussian castle in 1839. He, and the antagonist, are responsible for releasing the Shadow, an ancient evil, to the world and Daniel knows that he must kill his enemy and stop the Shadow from causing more harm to the world.
This is a first-person game so you are looking through the eyes of Daniel. That includes hallucinations. The unique gameplay element of Amnesia is that Daniel must not only hide from the mutated gatherers, but struggle to maintain his sanity. Your success in keeping sane all depends on how much time you stay in the light or shadows. If a creature like Mr. Face (pictured above) sees you, he will not stop pursuing you unless you find a way to hide from him. There really is nothing like the panic you feel as Mr. Face bursts through doors to chase you down. He’s just trying to give you a hug. What’s the big deal?
3 – Dead Space 2
The first Dead Space was a scary game, but you could almost predict when the Necromorphs (alien demons) were gonna pop out and make you crap your pants. Dead Space 2 perfected on the first game in every way. You play as Isaac Clarke, a survivor of the first game’s events. You didn’t fare too well after seeing your fellow crew be turned into ravenous creatures all because of a mysterious religious/occult marker and you start the game as a patient in a galactic insane asylum. Your rehabilitation doesn’t last long as everyone around you becomes the hellish Necromorphs and you must once again fight for your life to escape. Oh, and did I mention that you are constantly taunted by your dead girlfriend?
In Dead Space 2, you are very well armed, but it’s almost enough to survive. The unique part about the necromorphs is that you can’t kill them with a head-shot as you would in any other game. Instead, these creatures only die if you shoot off their legs and arms. Believe me, it’s more difficult than you think as they run towards you with bloodlust. I recommend you play this game with headphones on and the lights out. I shuddered several times as I kept hearing sounds behind me, whether it was tapping on the walls or the sounds of babies laughing. Basically, imagine every terrifying sound and combine that with being alone in an abandoned space station.
2 – Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
We’re back in Japan for the 2nd scariest game of all time and this time you follow twin sisters, Mio and Mayu. You play as Mio, who follows her sister into the eerie forest as she chases mysterious red butterflies. Much like Siren, this old Japanese village is a site where there have been ritualistic sacrificial ceremonies. Unless the ritual is completed, you will never be able to leave. The catch 22 is that in order to leave you must complete the required ritual and strangle your younger twin sister. That’s…uplifting. In the game you encounter ghosts everywhere that haunt and relive their gruesome fates. Just imagine the Grudge times 12.
The reason this game is terrifying is that you only have one weapon and it’s hardly a weapon. In Japanese ghost lore, it is known that by taking a picture of a ghost, you also capture its soul. Fatal Frame uses this lore as its main weapon. You always need to keep your camera ready just in case you see a looming ghost at the end of the hallway. Better snap those pictures quick though, the ghosts move slowly one second and are right in front of you the next. Why are Japanese legends so messed up?
1 – Silent Hill 2
I dare say this is the grand-daddy of Survival Horror. Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark may have been the pioneers of the genre, but there is nothing quite like the subtle fear of Silent Hill. While there are classics in this long-running series, they don’t come close to the dread of Silent Hill 2.
You play as James Sunderland. You just received a letter from your wife asking you to meet her in Silent Hill (a place you and she vacationed once). You find the letter a little odd because, well, she’s been dead for 3 years. In the perpetually foggy town of Silent Hill you find a small cast of characters who seem to be struggling with insanity and regret. Meanwhile, you have to survive attacks from warped mannequins, faceless nurses and, of course, Pyramid Head. Pyramid Head is terrifying because you can never kill him. In fact, in one room the only way to survive is to dodge the attack of Pyramid Head as he swings his giant meat cleaver at you. After a few white-knuckle minutes, the door will unlock and you run like crazy. However, you should know that Pyramid Head will chase you through the game. Thankfully he’s slow, but there’s nothing worse than running through the halls of an abandoned hospital and turning around to see Pyramid Head.
I remember playing through this game (In the middle of the day, mind you!), and being relieved when I was near the end of it because I was exhausted from running from monsters. I was happy to see everything wrap up and get some resolution as James gets out of dodge. Then I was punched in the gut. The ending of Silent Hill 2 is one of the best endings in video game history. I won’t spoil it here, but let’s just say that it’s a soul-crusher. You feel differently about James when it’s all said and done. To this day, I still can’t shake that ending. That is why Silent Hill 2 deserves the #1 spot.