Or more appropriately: The Scariest Video Games I've Played. I'm pretty into gaming, but not so into it that I've played everything. I do still kind of have something of a life. Sometimes.
I enjoy all kinds of video games. I've got shooters, RPGs, strategy, platformers, and lots of horror survival. I love scary games almost as much as I love scary movies, and I really love scary movies. One thing that games have the ability to do that movies will never have though is the ability to fully immerse you in a world. There have been things in many horror movies that unnerved, startled, or frightened me. In recent memory though no movie has been as effective as a well done scary video game. So if you like being scared and haven't given horror video games a chance I'd say it's time you try it out. The place to start is here, with the 5 scariest video games I've ever played.
5. Resident Evil 2
Did you think I'd go with 1 or 4? While they both have their moments (hell even the crappy ones like Code Veronica had a few scares) there's just so much bad dialogue done with such bad voice acting in 1. It's also just too damn well lit most of the game. Don't get me wrong, the first time a Cerberus dog jumped through a window to attack me it was scary, but I was also in a brightly lit hallway when it happened. RE4 had the terrifying chainsaw guy, and being trapped in a house while guys were busting endlessly through the doors and windows was super tense. I found EL Gigante to be rather sympathetic though. I felt kind of bad about it afterward. Like killing the Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus. You had to kill them, but it wasn't their fault they wanted to tear shit up. El Gigante wasn't evil, he was just a monster and monsters kill stuff. So no, if I feel bad about killing something (which I almost never do) then it can't be scarier than 2. What makes 2 better than either of the others is that it's darker, has more zombies and more dangerous creatures, and just overall amps up what was good about RE1. You lose the claustrophobic aspect of being trapped in a house, but the streets of Raccoon City are a far more frightening place to be when zombies attack. The narrow alleys, overrun buildings, and sewers are an even less fun place to be when Lickers and other new monsters are all over the place. I know I yelled “move your ass Leon!” at the screen at least once.
- Alan Wake
Before I started writing this I read a few other lists of scary video games just to see what other people thought, and make sure I wasn't saying anything that had already been said before. Now I may be covering some of the same games as other writers, but I don't think I'm doing it in the same way so I feel good about it. What none of those other lists mentions though is Alan Wake. I was really surprised by that because I found this game pretty damn scary. The story is a little Silent Hill 2, but has enough other influences to keep it from feeling like a rip-off of another game. At night your character is haunted and hunted by shadowy creatures that are only affected by light. You've got a flashlight and the ambient light around you to try and keep the creatures away. And you don't even always have the flashlight. You frequently find yourself sprinting from one street light to the next praying that your sprint ability doesn't run out before you get there. And even once you get there you aren't always safe. Some of the monsters are stronger than light even, and if you rest too long the light above you will start flickering. Keep chillin, and the light goes out. You do get some real weapons, but since ammo is scarce and Alan isn't the best shot (he's a writer, not a killing machine) you'll want to look for alternate ways of getting out of trouble. The story is so deep and engaging that it would take way too long to dissect it in one paragraph. Trust me, it's really good.
Technically this is a first-person shooter, and not a horror game at all. But for not being a horror game it sure is scary. The first time I saw Big Daddy take out a splicer I nearly turned the game off and walked away. I knew I was going to have to kill that thing, and I knew I was in no way prepared to do so. You likely remember the commercials before it came out. A guy thinking he's safe only to turn around and have a giant monster in some kind of modified old-fashioned diving suit drive a huge drill into his chest. Just imagine shit like that happening, a lot, with creepy little girls running all over the place. You're trapped in a slowly disintegrating underwater city that's some sort of Randian wet dream (if she had wet dreams. I haven't put too much thought into it, but I'd imagine Ayn Rand's lady parts were like used sandpaper) so you definitely get the claustrophobia thing that many good survival horror games have. There's also fantastic audio with constant drips of water in the background, half heard whispers that remind you you're not alone, and superb voice acting that keep you immersed the whole time. You also get visual effects that are stunning even by today's standards. Everything gets a little hazy when something explodes nearby, walking under running water leaves ripples across your vision just long enough for someone to take a few swings at you with a knife before it clears up, and when you walk through a tunnel surrounded on all sides by a beautifully realized ocean that is slowly closing in on the place you're trapped you WILL be scared. This is another game with a deeply complex story, but it's so good I may play it again when I'm done writing this.
- Silent Hill 2
Like RE2 the second installment of Silent Hill ups the ante of it's predecessor. The story and acting are better, and the whole thing is just plain creepier. The fog is still so thick that you can't see what's waiting for you down the road, and your little radio still crackles steadily louder with static as enemies get closer and closer. But the improvements in the dialogue and voice acting alone make up for the few aspects of gameplay we've seen before. The overall look of the game is better too. The first game used fog to cover up the fact that the graphics engine couldn't get good resolution at a distance. Here, it's real moving, changing, and menacing. Like the fog is helping to conceal the horrific monsters from you. And then there's Pyramid Head. The first time you see him it's freaky, but he can't reach you so you're okay. The second time he is raping mannequins that are made up of the lower halves of female bodies. You have to hide in the closet while he goes to town eventually killing the creatures before moving toward your hiding place. I started wondering if there was some button that could help me be even quieter and harder to spot that I hadn't found yet because I knew that something bad would happen to my brain in real life if that thing did to me what it did to those mannequins in the game. I found a screen capture of it, but I decided not to use it so I don't scar everyone for life. If you choose to scar yourself so be it, the image isn't hard to find.
- Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
I know I'm sounding like a sequel snob, but many times the sequels are truly better. The game developers get a chance to listen to the fans, and make improvements for the second go round. That's just how game series work a lot of the time. Not every time, BioShock 2 was certainly not an improvement over the original. I really do not care about multi-player that much. Fatal Frame 2 was hands down absolutely the scariest thing I've ever played. It scared the utter pants off me. Just thinking about it now I think I felt my pants shift downward just a little. It features young Japanese girls so it gets automatic creepy points right off the bat. It's like playing the best Japanese horror movie you've ever seen. These poor creepy girls don't even have any weapons to fight the horrible ghosts that are after them though. The only thing they have is a camera that sucks up the ghost's souls when you get them lined up in a nice close shot. It's the letting them get close before taking a picture that's the hard part because as disturbing as the ghosts can be on their own once you look at them through the lens of your camera many of them are fucking horrifying. My husband liked to play this too, and he always did so with the lights off and the sound turned way up. There were times when I couldn't even watch him play much less play myself. I have been unable to sleep after playing this game. It is possibly the scariest thing I have ever seen, and that's really saying something. I think I need a hug now.
There are a few games that were fairly scary that just didn't quite make the list. If you've played out all of the games listed above here are a few more options:
The Walking Dead
Dead Space (I'll probably get some crap for the fact that it didn't make the list, but for everything I liked about it I just got bored with it after a while. Sorry)
Needless Things V. 31 Days of HalloweenI have nothing to say about this line up. I mean literally nothing. These movies sound like complete garbage, and the shows aren't any better. Screw it. For the rest of the month I'm covering AMC's Fear Fest.