Horror movies and horror gaming are almost one in the same. The difference being horror themed games can create a unique, firsthand experience that draws the player straight into the action. The tension and terror are felt directly as every move you make could spell your impending doom.
Movies and gaming both have set paths and definitive endings, but with gaming, if and when you get there depends on you and you alone as you trek through a more intimate experience in the macabre. Whether you are an experienced gamer or a first-timer interested in exploring the world of horror gaming, here is a list of must-haves to welcome you in. Enjoy.
1. 'Resident Evil 4'
Resident Evil is an instant classic and boasts one of the greatest jump scare moments in video game history. But despite its horror-esque feel it was definitely lacking in many areas, mainly with the enemies. They were SLOW and most of the time could easily be avoided by simply walking around and away from them. The true sense of dread and feeling cornered was never there. Resident Evil 4 changed that all.
One of the last true gems of the Nintendo GameCube, Resident Evil 4 revived the franchise with a fresh new story loaded with an assortment of enemies that gave you the feeling of being trapped in an endless horror movie. Enemies were no longer slow and would now run at you, attack with various weapons, and come forth in huge hordes which were almost impossible to escape. Using your environment for survival became crucial as you looked for places to hide (like a rooftop) to avoid the threat.
But even then you weren’t safe. Enemies were smart and would use ladders or other methods to reach you that are normally safe in other games. Boss challenges were epic and terrifying, along with an ever-evolving assortment of enemies to bring forth new trauma-inducing challenges (Example: The blind Berserkers that attacked sounds). This game alone is worth snagging a GameCube on E-Bay. However, if that isn’t an option the game was released on the Playstation Store not too long ago and is worth every penny.
2. 'Dead Space'
One of the most important elements of a good horror film is creating the right atmosphere. Dead Space does this in a way like no other game before it, creating a world in which you never feel safe. Alone in a space station infested with horrifying monsters, you move about, awaiting death at every turn. The lack of a soundtrack creates for an even moodier vibe, allowing the player to focus entirely on the sounds of the environment. Every second playing feels like you are trapped aboard the Nostromo from the original Alien film. Weapons are extremely scarce, forcing you to be conservative and smart when attacking the threat. Each monster — scarier than the next — is lurking about hallways, ventilation systems, and behind doors waiting to deliver brutal death scenes. The game is TENSE and keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Turn out the lights and enjoy this suspenseful masterpiece of horror.
Horror comes in all forms and though Manhunt doesn’t contain any monsters or threats typical to the genre, it does create a world where you are never safe, always on-guard and loaded with jump scares. Manhunt is essentially a cross between a snuff film and The Running Man. You are tossed into an abandon city loaded with an assortment of goons. Your main objective is to kill or be killed — all on camera of course. Survive or die, the graphic death scenes are recorded on 8mm camera style shots. Stealth is key to your survival as enemies are plentiful and almost always attack in groups. Even the slightest sound can bring forth your eminent death, leaving the player white-knuckled with tension the entire time. And this is just the beginning — just wait until you are trapped in an abandon building with a chainsaw-wielding man-monster that wears the severed head of a pig as a mask. This game is brutal and was actually banned in many countries, but oh so worth a play.
4. 'Silent Hill 2'
Combining a chilling story, atmosphere, and monsters plucked straight from your nightmare, Silent Hill 2 is a must have for any fan of survival horror. Searching for your dead wife, you roam through a dark and moody world created with spine-tingling effects. It's loaded with scares but that makes up just a tiny part of this psychological thriller; bringing your very sanity into question. If you need more proof of this amalgamation of terror just check out Pyramid Head: A horrifying, hulking terror that wears a giant metallic pyramid over his head and carries a monstrously oversized blade. Oh, and did I mention he’s a sexual predator as well? It's evident when you catch him raping a pair of monsters in the game. To top it all off, it turns out that Pyramid Head is the repressed, sexual manifestation of the main character James set forth to punish him. You really can’t get any more twisted and cerebral than that, people.
5. 'Left 4 Dead 1 & 2'
The Left 4 Dead series is hardcore zombie action and survival horror blended together in an overly fun manner. This game isn't about story, it's about taking out as many zombies as humanly possible with whatever weapons you find. In true Night of the Living Dead/Walking Dead fashion, you are left stuck in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. The action is fast paced as there are no slow-walking zombies in this game. Spitters, hunters, giant earth-shaking zombies called tanks, and much more attack from every angle. Set off a car alarm and brace yourself as hordes of the undead assault in devastating numbers. The game is equipped with cheesy zombie-flick dialogue and a stereotypical cast of characters that interact with one another for loads of entertainment. It's not about scares, but when you first run into the Witch zombie you'll find yourself slowly creeping about when you hear her cries. Play with caution, as replay value is high as the game is highly addictive.
BONUS: 'Until Dawn'
A modern B-movie type horror game, reminiscent of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, that puts you in full control of each characters fate, where every choice and action alters the game drastically. You can play through the game more than a handful of times and experience new things each time with varied endings. A group of teens visit a cabin in the woods where a poorly selected prank goes wrong, leading to the disappearance of two sisters. A year later the same group of teens go back to the cabin for one last winter festival loaded with cheap thrills, dumb teens, and a killer lurking around every corner. It does an excellent job of keeping you guessing the entire time, and having full control of how the game plays out is loads of fun. In typical B-movie horror fashion, the stupidity expected from these types of characters is all based on your actions, making you responsible for all their idiotic choices. It's cheesy fun that can keep you entertained for hours.
Enjoy the Left 4 Dead trailer!