For years video games have tried to capture that perfect horror experience, although sadly, not many of them hit that mark. Perhaps the level design is off, or it could just be that the overall story isn’t ominous enough. These are things that can attribute to us being able to maintain our sanity whilst playing through it in a darkened room.
These following scariest video games are different, they are games where the level design keeps us on our toes, the arcing storyline inspires dread, and we barely maintained sanity throughout them. We weren’t even playing them in the dark.
Top 10: Scariest Video Games
10. Dead Space
It’s all well and good terrifying players with the usual horror trope of leaving them unarmed and defenceless in the fear of what lies before them, but true mastery in the art of horror can be seen when you can scare the player from within their comfort zone. Given a beefy suit of armour and an intimidating array of plasma weaponry, just what can touch you? What can pose a threat?
How about an army of monstrously deformed, reanimated corpses whose sole purpose in life is to acquire more bodies for their gruesome conversion process, and go about that task in some of the most violent ways you can possible imagine?
Those plasma weapons don’t make you feel so tough now, do they?
9. Silent Hill
In stark contrast to the previous entry on the list, Silent Hill plays well within the usual horror comfort zones of the scariest video games; abandoned towns, limited fields of vision, leaving you relatively defenseless and having to carefully ration out your meager means of defense in an increasingly hostile world.
Though it doesn’t take any grand steps outside of the usual horror formula, what it does do is play these usual cards to perfection, using them to scare witless countless players over the years as it has established itself as one of the more legendary horror franchises in both the scariest video games market and movies.
Armed only with a camera, you play as Miles Upshur, a journalist far too curious for his own good who winds up in the deadly Mount Massive Asylum which plays host to all manner of deranged inmates.
The game’s strength lies in your lack thereof. Entirely helpless and with only a camera, the only function of which is to help you see in the dark. The batteries to power the camera are scattered enough that you’ll never feel truly comfortable, always plotting your next move in an attempt to be as conservative as possible with what you have.
In an environment that plays on this with dreadful efficiency by harping relentlessly on your fear of the unknown, Outlast perfectly captures the claustrophobic, lost and helpless elements that many of the scariest video games have substantiated themselves on.
7. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Whirling you off on a time hopping and psychologically scarring journey throughout the ages, Eternal Darkness is one of the pioneers of the acclaimed “sanity meter” that has come to be something of a staple in the genre.
Primarily playing as Alexandra Roivas, you take the roles of 12 different people throughout the ages as the chilling tale of a Roman Commander, Pious Augustus, a man transformed into a Lich and attempting to summon the Ancient to whom he is subservient into the world to feast on the souls of all living beings – nasty stuff.
Easily one of the scariest video games, that treads into head-scratching territory at times yet stays firmly placed in terrifying territory throughout, Eternal Darkness released to rave reviews for its very unique and well-executed method of storytelling.
Taking the number six spot on this scariest video games list, is a game famous for its impressively ahead of its time physics engine, sleek graphics, and clever gun-play. On the other hand, F.E.A.R. is infamous among that same niche for giving them many bed-wetting nightmares centered around the game’s pivotal character, “Alma”.
Playing up the old trope that nothing is quite as scary as a little girl, and doing it absurdly well, F.E.A.R. progresses you through a campaign that will keep you enthralled with smart, reactive gameplay while having you keep your senses on alert for another appearance from Alma.
It’s this duality – the ability to immerse you deep enough into the gun-slinging aspect to make it so you’re always, without fail caught off-guard by the systematic scares – that makes F.E.A.R. one of the scariest video games. If that doesn’t suit you, you can just hinge it on the spooky little ghost girl.
5. Rise of Nightmares
Unabashedly opting out of a higher level of storytelling, or putting the fear in you with clever, intricate deathly tales woven in intelligent ways, Rise of Nightmares is blunt, straightforward and horrifically grisly.
Using the Xbox 360’s Kinect feature, you’ll be flailing your arms around like an imbecile, both to control the game and in sheer fright, as a slew of grotesque imagery gnarly enough to force a fearful whimper out of even the most stone faced and stoic of gamers. Using the shock approach to horror well, Rise of Nightmares, well, it gave rise to a LOT of nightmares.
4. System Shock 2
One of the scariest video games, released back in 1999 just before the turn of the millennium, System Shock 2 assured that many gamers would christen it with some very restless nights. Playing up a subtle, atmospheric style of frights that constantly danced on the peripherals of your subconscious, System Shock 2 teased players with the grunts and snarls of enemies they were woefully under equipped to deal with in order to keep them off balance, ultimately capitalizing on this with a well-placed jump scare to knock them clean off them.
In response to overwhelming fan demand, a spiritual successor was created to System Shock in the form of Bioshock was created, using gameplay elements from its notably scarier source material and even including a “1999” mode in Bioshock Infinite, a direct reference to System Shock 2‘s release date.
3. Siren: Blood Curse
Another one of the scariest video games that utilizes a multiple character approach to storytelling, Siren: Blood Curse enters our countdown. It offered various interconnected characters that you took turns controlling, as Siren tells their tale.
You are trapped in the mysterious Hanuda Village, completely cut off from the outside world and buffeted by Shibito, the reanimated dead. The characters struggled to survive and prevent the coming of the mana god, Kaiko.
Siren utilizes this approach well to keep you uncomfortable for the duration of the game, unable to plant your feet firmly into one character or the other. Though, the insect themed Shibito that constantly assail you throughout the game, and the isolated, desperate atmosphere it executes so well, probably helps with that.
2. Fatal Frame
One of the most tense and nerve-wracking series, and scariest video games, of all time, Fatal Frame sets the player wandering about some dreadfully fear-inducing locations, such as an abandoned mansion or forest known for being a suicide hot-spot. You’re armed only with a camera to defend yourself.
Assailed by particularly chilling, and often screeching, ghosts from all sides, your only method of combating them plays off of the rigid atmosphere of the game perfectly, forcing you to focus your camera on them. There’s only one issue with this, being they’re usually lurching around and doing their utmost to scare the wits out of you as you try to focus a camera lens on their terrible visage.
All of these factors and more are what made Fatal Frame one of the most successful horror games of all time; so what could possibly top it as number one on our list?
1. Resident Evil
Having such a tremendous reach to its terrible grasp that it has extended the reach of its fame well beyond the realm of video games, and soundly spooked any fan base it has graced, Resident Evil is indisputably the more horrifying of the scariest video games. When talking about the impact Resident Evil has had you COULD talk about the game itself and the in-depth, expansive, and terrifying world it has built. Or the extensive variety of enemies that can gut and maim you. Or the identifiable cast of characters we’ve all seen get killed by some grotesque monster time and time again.
OR you could talk about the impact it has had on the genre altogether; the trends it has set and the way it has dictated the flow of horror games thanks to its immense popularity. That coupling of incredible gameplay elements and the sway it holds over the genre, that’s what leaves it as the scariest out of all the scariest video games.
If that alone isn’t enough for you, Nemesis is a downright nightmare.
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We hope you appreciated this scariest video games list because we certainly didn’t appreciate having to recall the experiences we had running in mindless terror through these scariest video games. But what about you? Did we cover your scariest video games or did we leave one of your most horrifying off of this scariest video games?
If so, what are some of the scariest video games that provoked terror in you? Don’t worry, it’s safe to share, we won’t laugh.