Throughout the month of June, Blastr will be celebrating our favorite digital diversions with Video Game Month: a look at some best, worst and wackiest from the world of shooters, space sims, strategy games and more.
Back in the old days, you had to pop in a good horror movie to give yourself a case of the chills. But now there are more than a few freaky video games up to the challenge.
From slugging it out with zombies to stumbling around in the dark just looking for answers, horror fans are enjoying a renaissance in playable scarefests. We tried to go a bit old school and pay homage to a classic or two, but if you’re really looking to be scared witless, it's hard to beat the effects and production values on some modern horror titles.
We’ve broken down more than a dozen of our favorites below, but let us know which horror titles you’re digging too.
So, turn down the lights and let's dig in …
This 2010 Xbox and PC title feels like the sweet spot between a horror thriller and Twin Peaks, with a dash of Silent Hill creepiness thrown in. The plot follows a thriller novelist who works to unravel the mystery behind his wife's disappearance during a vacation in a small town. But, to make things more complicated, the events from his latest novel start to come to life. The game itself feels a bit unlike anything you’ve ever really played before, in a good way. It’s an atmospheric ride of a story, and well worth the price of admission for horror fans.
This survival horror classic from 2008 spawned a few sequels, which were also solid, but it’s hard to beat the original. The game is basically a sci-fi horror film brought to life, putting players in control of an engineer who battles monstrous reanimated human corpses on an interstellar mining ship. It’s atmospheric and creepy, and follows the mission to travel through the ship and take out all kinds of super-creepy crawlies along the way.
This Playstation 4 title from last year takes all your classic slasher movie tropes and makes them playable. What could go wrong, right? The game focuses on eight teenagers who vacation in a cabin in the woods. This being a slasher game, the group is soon attacked by an apparent psycho, as the player swaps through the different members of the group to figure out more of the story (and experience all kinds of deaths and scares). Along the way, players can also make different decisions (Don’t want to run up the stairs? Or open that door? Don’t!). Considering all the different outcomes, the game is extremely replayable.
Being in a remote location is creepy enough, but make it an underwater research facility and you have SOMA. The first-person survival horror tale tosses the player into the base, where they’ll encounter different systems that start to take on human characteristics. It’s an exercise in psychological horror, with the player digging through different clues along the way. Unlike a lot of other survival horror games, this one doesn’t actually feature any combat. Instead, it’s all about sneaking, puzzle-solving and exploring.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
This one is a little weird, but if you’re looking for scares, it’s probably the best place to start. Widely considered to be among the scariest games ever made, this Japanese survival horror game follows twin sisters as they explore an abandoned village and encounter the paranormal along the way. Players must use a vintage camera called the Camera Obscura to defeat and document the ghosts and creatures along the way. Crimson Butterfly, and the first Fatal Frame game, are often credited with being almost too scary for some players to finish. If you’re up to the challenge, it’s pretty easy to track a rereleased copy down on the PS3 online store, Wii or Xbox. It was originally released on PS2.
Be it a movie, game, or just about anything else — you can’t go wrong with an asylum if you want it to be scary. This freaky title follows a freelance journalist who decides to look into a remote psychiatric hospital. But, the journalist gets a bit more than he bargained for, after stumbling into this freaky site overrun with crazed inmates. Armed with nothing more than a camcorder (thank you, night vision!) and a notebook, the poor guy has to figure out what’s going on and try to put the pieces together… while surviving, of course.
Resident Evil 2
We’re taking it all the way back to 1998 for this one. No horror game list is complete without an entry from the franchise that helped start it all, and without the success of Resident Evil, who knows where the genre would be today. The sequel takes the action out of the creepy old mansion and offers up an entire town of zombie-filled horrors, and the Playstation original is still scary all these years later. As a testament to its legacy, a modern-day remake of the game is also in some stage of development, tentatively set for release later this year.
Considering how dreadful the film franchise became with the last couple of installments, this 2014 video game is the closest thing to a proper sequel in years. Plus, just like the original two films, it’s also terrifying. The game is set in the same lo-fi, retro future fans will recognize from the Alien films, and follows Ellen Ripley’s daughter as she heads out into uncharted space to try and solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. The game doubles down on the creepy survival horror aspects, pushing a stealth approach when the xenomorphs start roaming.
Silent Hill 2
This franchise typically shows up in the same breath as Resident Evil, and for good reason. Silent Hill is the slightly moodier sibling to the other major horror franchise, and the second installment is arguably the best. The game follows a man who receives a letter from his dead wife, who tells him to meet her in the insanely creepy little town of Silent Hill. The town transforms into pure horror, as James is drawn deeper into the mysterious terror as he tries to unravel the truth about his wife’s death. If you’re looking for the best experience, a remastered PS3 version was released, if you’re up for tracking it down.
Five Nights at Freddy’s
This indie title, which has spawned its fair share of sequels, is a throwback point and click adventure. Just, you know, absolutely terrifying. The game is set at a fictional pizza restaurant called Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, and the player serves as a nighttime security guard. But, things go from kid-friendly to horrible after dark, as the malfunctioning animatronic creatures come to life and wreak havoc. It’s basically your worst nightmare about Chuck E Cheese, brought to life.
The Wii U is a great console is you have kids or enjoy platformers, but as far as legit adult-themed games, there aren’t a ton of options. But, there’s one that’s definitely worth tracking down. Though its been ported to a few other consoles, the Wii U version is the one you want to play. Released in 2012, this zombie hunting horror tale takes full advantage of the Wii U’s bizzaro gamepad input system, as you fight your way through zombie-infested London. The touchscreen gamepad helps you do everything from barricade doors, to pick locks, which is a cool gameplay mechanic to draw you deeper into the world. Another neat twist: If your character is killed, you take over a different survivor — and have to kill your old zombie-self to retake your old inventory.
The Walking Dead Season 2
A direct sequel to the first critically acclaimed “Season,” this episodic game is one of the few titles that will truly warp your brain to the point that you literally feel like a pre-teen girl trying to survive the apocalypse. In the best possible way. Players take on control of a young survivor, Clementine, from the original season as she is forced to try and forge ahead on her own. It’s creepy, unsettling and terrifyingly engrossing. If you’re not playing this series, you should be. It's arguably as good (or better) than the show these days.
We’ll open with the caveat: This unfinished game isn’t even technically available anymore, but if you happen to have a copy saved, you know it deserves to be on this list. The demo was for the unreleased Silent Hills game, a collaboration between Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, and it teased a game that would have certainly made your skin crawl. Sadly, the demo has been pulled down (since the game is technically dead), but it’s a remnant of something that could’ve been truly great.