Now, I’m not the biggest advocate for horror-type games, mostly because I’m not a huge fan of being scared, but when done right, a horror game can really hit the nail on the head. I think I’ve got a good variety of many different flavors of games that you can get down with this Halloween to really get in the spirit of the holiday.
Jurassic Park (SNES)
I know, I know, it’s not really what most people would qualify as a “scary game,” but for me and my mom, this was the spawn of many a nightmare.
Nothing rose adrenaline much like a gigantic T-Rex crashing in from offscreen, and just when you think you’ve gotten away, you realize you left something important on the other side of the park. Then, when you’re hurriedly running back, you get eaten.
Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 may not have dogs jumping in through windows, but that doesn’t take away from what made it oh-so-eerie.
This game is about three things: a group of super-creepy monks whose heads explode into giant centipede-type monsters, dogs whose faces rip open into plant-like monsters, and horrible, horrible troll monsters.
Notice that all of those things included monsters? A lot of people tend to forget that monsters are the real route of horror, and though zombies and the undead are scary, nothing really personifies horror like a real monster.
And man do centipede-monsters creep me out.
The Last of Us
It’s not fair to mention scary without mentioning The Last of Us.
When really hardcore ammo/inventory management meet horrifying creatures like clickers, stalkers, and bloaters, it’s hard not to tense up along your journey through The Last of Us. Not only do rooms filled to the brim with clickers just freak me out, those occasions when you’re also drowned in darkness just make things that much worse.
Every single time you fall to one of those horrible creatures and the music rips until it suddenly cuts to black, it’s another stab to the heart.
Man that game just scares the bejesus out of me.
Dead Space is another incarnation of a true-monster game.
Now when we talk horror in Dead Space, I am talking about the first Dead Space, which as far as that franchise is concerned, is the king of horror. When monsters are appearing behind you, sneaking up on you, or just playing dead to mess with your head, you enter a state I like to call “constant fear”.
Not only that, but a monster encountered near the end that stalks you through the Ishimura, an already very ‘uneven’ environment (to put it lightly), just adds to the pounds of tension and weight on the player’s shoulders.
Necromorphs are the worst.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Real fear, like the kind that causes a grown man to scream as loud as he can in the comfort of his own bedroom. The kind that leaves said man sitting in his bed, staring at his ceiling, just aware.
That’s really what embodies Amnesia.
Spot on, yet eerie voice acting, plus a giant castle full of bad-mojo (and bad-monsters) with some of the most discomforting music in video games. That’s an equation that adds up to true survival horror.
And I’m pretty sure Amnesia is the reason why I’ll never sleep in the dark again.
BONUS ROUND: Daylight
Now I know Zombie Studios’ Daylight isn’t quite upon us yet, but I did get a chance to play it at this year’s PAX East.
With the 15-minute demo giving a full impression on a crowded convention floor and only a set of Astro A40s separating me from “the noise,” it’s a wonder this game even got to me. But it did. Ohh boy did it.
With Daylight, it was more the absence of anything and anyone that was truly terrifying. I was freaking out at really nothing, just because the anticipation was there. It was the moment when I called out in a dark room and the game responded by lifting a door off the ground and having it slam back into place.
At that point: I was very done.
I’m excited to see this one on PC & PS4 in quarter one of 2014.