Top 10 Horror Games
Tis the season to get sh*t scared…tralalala la la la la
As a huge horror fan throughout all forms of media, from books to games to films etc Halloween has to be one of my favourite times of the year. Not because I go out to trick or treat or because I can dress up as Ashley J. Williams for a better reason than I look cool, but because horror comes to the forefront of everything. So what better way to celebrate Halloween this year than with a list of my very favourite horror games. The games that are about to follow I do not claim to be a collection of the greatest horror games ever created but a list that comprises my best & most memorable experiences playing horror themed games. I have not had the pleasure of playing a lot of the horror games out there so I imagine there will be some omissions that would be shoe ins for many other gamers, if you think I am missing out on something special or you know of a horror game that others might enjoy then drop it like its hot…right into the comments section.
Exhibit A: Ghouls & Ghosts (Sega Megadrive)
Ever since my first viewing of Gremlins I have been fascinated with monsters, this fascination continued to manifest through goblin toys & monster in my pocket figures amongst other things, but when it game to the arena of gaming, especially in my youth, Super Ghouls n Ghosts was the ideal game for me. I spent many a time playing this game on the Megadrive, usually only getting a few levels in because it was far too difficult a game for me as a kid. The wide variety of crazy looking sh*t in this game was awesome and I will always remember how cool it felt tearing sh*t up in some golden armour. The franchise is lacking a current generation version of the game and considering the success of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow I think a similar kind of platform hack & slash game for G&G could work.
Exhibit B: Splatterhouse 2 (Sega Megadrive)
Ghouls & Ghosts was not the only horror game I fell in love with on the Megadrive, the one I loved most was Splatterhouse 2. Once again this was a game I struggled with as a kid, but I didn’t care how many times I died I just thought the game looked awesome. As a kid playing Splatterhouse 2 on the Megadrive is the early 90s equivalent of letting a kid play Dead Rising today. Maybe I was a little twisted when I was younger but I loved how gruesome the game was, all the blood splatter, vomiting deer heads, hanging flesh baby things and the monsters that just fell apart when you punched them in the face or smacked them with a bat. Oh and Rick just looked badass with his mask.
Exhibit C: Resident Evil 2 (PS1)
Moving on to the PS1 there were few horror games that I recall playing. Unfortunately I never played Resident Evil 1 until after I played 2 & 3, maybe because my mother was worried I was turning into some aspiring Norman Bates but for some reason the first game just flew by me. The sequel however did not. I still recall my first ever time playing the game, I picked up a copy of the official Playstation magazine as I loved demos, this cover I remember had creepy hands coming in from the sides. As soon as I played the demo I was hooked, starting off by getting to the gun store and then making your way to the police station I was enthralled by every step and it was one of the first games where I actually paid attention to the story. Resident Evil 2 for me was a landmark game and it would become as significant as reading Goosebumps and watching Halloween in terms of solidifying my preference for horror. It also led me to love zombies before they were cool by mainstream standards…just saying.
Exhibit D: Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomstick (PS2)
Let me just get this out of the way, I love the Evil Dead series, one of my absolute favourite series. As a result I am immediately drawn to anything that comes out regarding the universe or its characters. Of the Evil Dead games that I played Fistful of Boomstick was my favourite. For me it captured the comedy essence of Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness as well as being full of silly gore and craziness. Though I did not reply the game much, and did feel it got a tad repetitive, it was just so much fun laying the smackdown on hordes of deadite enemies. Also Bruce Campbell voiced the character so what more could you want.
Exhibit E: Alien Vs Predator 2 (PC)
Right next to my love of the Evil Dead series is my passion for the Alien & Predator films. What? I do not know of any Alien Vs Predator film, I mean that would be an awesome film surely? I digress. My PC gaming is fairly limited but the experiences I have had are memorable, and this is mainly down to AvP 2. This was the first game to truly make me jump and panic when playing. The marine’s campaign had me blindly firing into nothing and scampering for the nearest exit to avoid the imminent death that was scurrying along the walls towards me. No game has had my adrenaline pumping like AvP2 and every encounter was something to fear and would have been right at home in the film Aliens. The Alien & Predator campaigns were fun too but it is playing as a colonial marine where most of the fun and fear occurs.
Exhibit F: Condemned: Criminal Origins (XBOX 360)
Now I have already raved on about this game for a segment in Under the Radar (Check it out) because of how good this game is. Unlike a lot of horror games out there Condemned pits you face to face with the terror trying to get you. The combat is brutal, the environments haunting and the sounds just get under your skin. I have many times boldly declared this as the scariest game I have ever played and I stick by that, I would be very surprised if anything gets as close to this for me. Though the likes of Resident Evil & Dead Space have their moments, you can always create distance between you and the monsters that want to devour you because you have weapons and ammo. In Condemned: Criminal Origins, you have to close that space in order to continue and when the light, settings and characters sanity are all against you it makes for a pretty terrifying trip through a city gone mad.
Exhibit G: Dead Space (XBOX 360)
Now I’d be lying if I said that that I did not spend the majority of my time playing Dead Space with my back against the wall, slowly moving towards an exit with my crosshair glued to the vent openings that littered the walls. For those who may feel a little disillusioned by the direction of latter instalments in the Resident Evil franchise, Dead Space is the perfect tonic. It offers a sublime combination of scares, action and atmosphere to keep you guessing at every turn. One of the more frightening things in the game though is the sheer relentless nature of the monsters you encounter. These things do not hide behind corners or shamble towards you slowly; they head straight for you and aim to dismember you in every way possible. The future of the Dead Space franchise is bright, but the developers must avoid the rabbit hole that Resident Evil found itself journeying through. The mystery surrounding the story of the first game is also a major draw and helps engross you into the game. If somehow you have not heard of Dead Space then here is an enticing thought, breed Doom 3 with Resident Evil 2 and you have your true space nightmare.
Exhibit H: Left 4 Dead (XBOX 360)
Horror games are not and should not always be about the scares and how much blood is spilt, to keep a genre interesting you need to keep it fresh and Left 4 Dead offers us a perfect counterbalance to the tension of something like Dead Space. Though you will find pretty much no story to tell, the journeys you make through the various chapters, especially on harder difficulties, make their own. For zombie fans, co-op players and those who love a fast paced shooter, Left 4 Dead offers it all. Admittedly for the most part, my online communication with other players is minimal, but when it comes to Left 4 Dead you can not help but speak up. Whether it is screaming to your team to rescue you from a smoker that is dragging you into the woods, or shouting TANK!!!! When the music cue hits or discussing which direction you can hear the cries of a witch coming from, Left 4 Dead will make you talk. It might not be scary but it is intense, chaotic and one hell of a blast for anybody who gets involved…Just don’t shoot a car on your way to the finish line.
Exhibit I – Alan Wake (XBOX 360)
Alan Wake was a long time coming, and is one of a few games to be delayed so much that when it came out it was actually good. In many ways Alan Wake is similar to Dead Space, a third person shooter where you try to get to the bottom of a mysterious occurrence in an abandoned place whilst your sanity continues to slip away from you. Just with Alan Wake replace your plasma cutter for a flashlight and your set to go. That is right, you heard me, a flashlight. Much like Condemned makes your face your fears with a lead pipe up close and personal, Alan Wake takes away the power of a gun and gives you a flashlight as a replacement. Many times throughout Alan Wake I was wishing for a level or moment where there was some daylight because there was just so much tension in waiting for some shadow being to come and get me. The story though is what keeps you guessing and moving forward, like your own shadow its constantly by your side refusing to let up and refusing to leave you alone.
Exhibit J – The Walking Dead Series (XBOX LIVE ARCADE)
If any game is going to steal your heart and then rip it out from your chest then it is the sublime episodic series of The Walking Dead by Telltale games. This is another game that shows you do not need to have a bunch of scares or jumps to make a good horror game. Unlike Left 4 Dead which opted to crazy action, TWD opts to use choice and emotion as tools to play. What I must stress though is no game becomes good just because you could make choices that affect game play, to support this choice system you need the player to give a damn about what is going on and what better way than to put the life of a young child in your hands. Its light on significant action and it is mainly a point and click game but boy is it emotionally taxing and always leaves you second guessing your actions and choices throughout. Story telling at its peak throughout each episode.
So there you have it, ten of my favourite horror games to be released. Let us know your thoughts, is there game you think deserves a mention or you want to let other people know about, either way get involved!