And certainly not suitable for kids unless you want to scar them for life.
The 20 best horror games of all time
Focusing on a strange little character in a yellow mac, you have to escape The Maw, a never really explained location full of snuffling, twitchy grotesque creatures out to get you. While it has issues - some frustrating perspectives and controls, mainly - the horrible atmosphere and revolting cast still make this a great horror experience. One minute you're trying to sneak past a contorted blind man's impossibly long arms, the next you're running from a tidal wave of flopping obese restaurant gluttons. It's disturbingly beautiful, and framed with all the love and care of an twisted animated movie.
Alan Wake isn't like most horror games. It doesn't trade in excessive gore or jump scares - in fact, it's not that scary on the whole. But its sense of place and character is second to none. That place is Bright Falls, a Twin Peaks -inspired mountain community with a terrible secret. The dulcet tones of the night DJ rambling across the airwaves - mixed with the little vignettes you can catch on TV - make this town feel alive, like a character unto itself.
Its story unfolds like a thrilling TV miniseries, right down to the episodic structure that bookends each plot twist and revelation. Alan Wake further distinguishes itself by, well, being a lot of fun to play.
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Maybe that sounds a bit mean, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable horror game than Alan Wake from a pure gameplay perspective. Developer, Remedy is as famous for action as storytelling, and that comes to bear here, as simple, fluid controls do away with the stilted awkwardness that's characteristic of this genre. Taking on a group of enemies is challenging for all the right reasons: the encounters are well crafted, and the pistol-plus-flashlight combat combo is fun to use without making you feel invincible.
As if being trapped in a monster-infested fortress without knowing who you are or why you're there isn't scary enough in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you'll have to guide protagonist Daniel to salvation while maintaining his sanity. That means staying out of the darkness in a huge building where light is scarce and running from monsters, which have a habit of popping up extremely unexpectedly. You have no weapons; you cannot fight them, and each daunting new room is usually host to some unexplainable, spooky event that drains Daniel's sanity further. Of course, the best way to lose your own sanity is to don a pair of headphones and play Amnesia in the dark - and if you manage to get through the infamous "water part" without losing the run of yourself, know that you've succeeded where countless others have not.
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Teen slashers have been around for nearly four decades now, but aside from the abysmal Friday the 13th on NES, games haven't really been brave enough to venture into that territory. Until now. Or rather, Until Dawn zing , a survival-horror game about a pack of randy teens going on vacation to an isolated mountain cabin, only to find that some heinous entity is set on killing them off. But it's not all fun and games: the characters will die gruesome deaths if you can't navigate Until Dawn's horror movie logic, and it takes every opportunity to scare the bejaysus out of you.
While many games on this list are here because of their fear-factor alone, Until Dawn earns a spot for more meta reasons, too - it's wilfully, soulfully entrenched in horror tradition, and uses those tropes brilliantly. It's packed with winks to the slasher genre, and you'll still love the ridiculous twists even if you see them coming from a mile away.
You'll laugh as much as you scream, if not more, and few horror games capture that sense of grisly fun so well. From Software's Dark Souls games - of which this is a very obvious descendent - don't play like horror standards. They're action-RPGs, built around stat micromanagement and skilful play.
And yet they feel scarier than most games that build themselves around fear - stress, dread and jumps come as frequently as loot and levelling. Bloodborne is the best of the lot, a sprawling, mysterious tale of eldritch horror set in a twisted nightmare vision of Victorian Europe. Travelling down cobblestone streets amidst dark spires, you'll hear hushed conversations behind firmly-locked doors, wondering who you are, and what "The Hunt" you seem to be on could be.
It's gaming's best Lovecraftian horror - you'll be driven to discover its secrets as much as you are to master its vicious combat systems. This is the series that invented modern survival horror, but that wasn't good enough for director Shinji Mikami. So in Resident Evil 4 he invented the modern third-person shooting, just for fun. Leon Kennedy's adventures in gunplay are rightly famous, the feedback-heavy combat making every situation a shaky joy.
But, I hear you cry, how does that make it qualify as a top 10 horror game? Surely it's just an action experience in Resi clothing? Tell that to anyone coming to the Ganado-infested village for the first time. The sheer stress of being rushed by the parasite-infested local population, headed up by a sack-masked, chainsaw-wielding maniac ranks up there with gaming's most frightening moments. Its a feeling that returns constantly - whether it's one of the iconic boss fights, a battle across crumbling rooftops or in the most expected location, Resi 4's horror is in how it puts you on the backfoot and asks you to fight your way out.
If Resident Evil is the king of survival action-horror, then Dead Space aimed to be the pretender to the throne, bringing together Capcom's early dread and latter day over-the-shoulder shooting into one gory package. Borrowing from Alien and other sci-fi classics, the release put players in the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer trapped on a derelict spacecraft. Soon Isaac finds out the ship isn't as empty as it seems, as a strange alien artefact has transformed everyone on board into hideous, flesh-eating creatures, each more horrific than the last.
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Dead Space crafts a horrifying experience by limiting the player. Isaac is short on ammo, he rarely knows whats going on in the continually shifting story, and he's most in danger of what he cant see. So much of the disturbing atmosphere is built on what you hear, and the amazing sound design uses audio to fashion an entire deadly world around Isaac.
Though the sequel pulled back on the scares somewhat in favour of cinematic action, the original remains trapped in our nightmares. SOMA has problems, largely from clumsy stealth section, but it also has, hands down, one of the most unpleasantly disturbing stories of anything in this list.
To explain why would ruin it, but this plays with ideas of consciousness and what makes you 'you' in a terrifying way. When you're not exploring the rusting, decrepit undersea base of PATHOS II, you're playing with some pretty heavy metaphysic concepts fit to give you nightmares. This is a world, filled with broken machines full of glitching human consciousnesses and slimy growths, that expands and grows into something terrible the longer you spend exploring. The undersea and biotech elements make a Bioshock comparison hard to avoid but while their are similarities - man's hubris and science pushed too far, especially - this is far more unpleasant and ethically shocking.
The new 'safe mode' means you can also now play it just for the story - finish it and see if you can sleep after. While Until Dawn created a cinematic choose-your-own adventure horror experience, its Rush of Blood spin off focuses on fast action shooting in VR. The 'why' of it all isn't ever really made that clear - there's a roller coaster, it goes through themed levels full of things trying to kill you - but the results are spectacular. While basically an on-rails shooter as you dual wield Move controllers, it has an absolute mastery of the jump scare, using pace and distraction to play you like a fool - 'what was that over there?
Outlast offers a first-person trek through a setting literally no one in real life would willingly check out - an old asylum that seems abandoned, but also strangely very active. At night. A lot has been made in that space, where you just focus on the raw basics and build an experience around that.
Developers are much more aware that a good horror game is all about the feeling they generate, and less about having a fun core gameplay loop—which has been a pitfall for many years. Resident Evil 6: a very modern case of cut-scene overkill. But for horror, he has different ideas. Like when you introduce a monster in them, I hate that. Our goal is for the player to be constantly in control.
Grip agrees with me.
However, right now the personal horror of The Exorcist or the disturbing atmosphere of Hard Candy is not really present in games. I definitely think games can probe much further. The question is just how far. With a foreword from Simpsons writer Mike Reiss, Vintage Geek additionally features a fabulous fifty celebrity-penned questions from the likes o Eight volunteers find themselves fighting for their lives when a drug trial goes horrifically wrong.
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With a resume that includes E. DW: Oh, you know I was born! My mother also was a beautiful actress, locally in my hometown and did all the plays at church so I think I naturally found my way into a family that supporte When you read that a film has the writer Robert Bloch Psycho and been directed by Roy Ward Baker your interest will be pricked.