October is all about the fear, right? Halloween is almost here and the rest of us can be terrified of Christmas shopping. This month, a couple new horror games have been released, and they have some big shoes to fill. Here are our picks of some of the better horror games of the past 10 years in honour of our Fear Fest. Just the last ten years or so so please no moaning about the lack of Silent Hill 2 or whatever other game you love didn’t make our list.
Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs
Coming hot off the heels of Dark Descent, Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs was a more thematic and and crafted journey into pure nightmare fuel. Dripping with deviant and filled with the kind of monsters usually reserved to scare children into behaving, Amnesia is a well-oiled machine that’ll have you swearing off pork for the rest of your life.
If there was one game that gave the survival horror genre the kick in the pants that it needed, it was Dead Space. Moody, violent and terrifying around every corner, the game was a masterpiece of storytelling and jump scares as players had to not only survive the dreaded bowels of a spaceship that had tripped an event horizon of madness, but fight back as well.
Back before the sickos at Frictional Games were terrifying gamers with Amnesia, they were scaring the dickens out of people with the Penumbra series of first person survival-horror games. Penumbra follows Phillip and his unsettling journey through an underground research base. Much like Amnesia, Penumbra eschews combat in favour of puzzles, stealth and running away like a scared little girl.
Fatal Frame/Project Zero
Bleak, nasty and dripping with that nihilistic Japanese approach to horror, Project Zero isn’t just one of the greatest horror games ever made. It’s also a game that has held up remarkeably well over the years thanks to competent controls and an engrossing storyline.
The game that made climbing up ladders a torturous mental affair. F.E.A.R introduced gamers to Alma, a menacing paranormal entity all wrapped up in the body of a little girl. Alma was the reason why your heart never really had a break while playing, making you beg for the next big firefight so that she could stay away for a little while. Although the scares gave way for more shooting in subsequent sequels, F.E.A.R. is still pretty damn horrifying.
How scary is Outlast? It’s so bloody terrifying that we have staff members here who have yet to move past the main menu of the game. Thanks to the camera gimmick, Outlast has a subtle approach to building up fear, with a result that will end up in your pants dying themselves a putrid brown at the end of any session. It’s maddeningly terrifying, and made for people who themselves are made up of sterner stern-like stuff.
From those classic zombie groans to the fear of running out of healing items, nothing quite captures the horror genre like Resident Evil. There is a reason it is a staple survival horror, and one which all others are compared to. Thanks to Revelations, it has also returned to its more suspenseful roots, instead of the action game it became. With dogs, a nemesis and crazy environments, Resident Evil will keep you up at night preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
Who is the Slender Man? Why is he after me? How can a tall fellow with a bag over his head be the most terrifying foe even encountered in a game? You could ask all those questions if you really want to. But by then, you’d realise that you’re already dead.
Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl
Before there was Metro 2033, there was S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl. Setting the stage for a vast and atmospheric game set in the nuclear wastelands of Russia, S.T.A.L.K.E.R was a journey into the unknown. Desolate, spooky and filled with an atmosphere that felt as toxic as the irradiated grounds of Chernobyl, S.T.A.L.K.E.R was an ambitious games that was rubbish in some areas and remarkably terrifying in other gameplay departments.
Sure, zombies are overdone, but ZombiU brought something new and fresh to the experience. Exploring post-apocalyptic London with only a crazy man’s voice to guide you, the game was the first to make stellar use of the Wii U gamepad. It is tense, terrifying and incredibly difficult – just like real survival. With a unique approach to death and your failures having consequences, ZombiU might just make you wear down your teeth as you grind, sweat and cry your way to the end.
New arrivals this month
There are two horror games out this month that deserve your attention. First up, Alien Isolation. Geoff gave it an 8 and claimed it was mighty scary. You can pick it up at all your favorite retailers.
The Evil Within is also a real horror fest from the director of Resident Evil. I’m playing it now and the review should be out in the next few days, if I can keep from changing my pants while playing. You can also grab it from all the usual places.
Last Updated: October 20, 2014