By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)
While horror films are all well and good at sending shivers down your spine, there’s a certain edge video-games have always had over them: interactivity. When you’re watching a movie and it’s all getting too much, just covering your eyes with your hand is enough to help make you feel somewhat safe. Pick up a controller and stick on a horror game however and you’ve got no other option but to traverse and encounter whatever hellish environments and creatures it has to throw at you, less you find yourself stuck in the same place for all eternity. What follows is a list of games that not only gives Hollywood a run for its money but solidifies gaming as the one stop shop for proper horrifying entertainment: readers beware, you’re in for a scare.
(And remember, if there’s a game you find terrifying that isn’t included then tweet me @blinkclyro and I’ll consider doing a reader feedback follow up piece)
Silent Hill 2
Let’s start things off with a PS2 classic that has stood the test of time. Despite the series having several hit or miss sequels as well as having its own abysmal big screen adaptation; Konami’s sophomore effort was its pinnacle, managing to combine great storytelling with even better character design. As you find yourself walking anxiously through the titular town as James Sunderland, arriving there in search of his deceased wife, you’ll find yourself dreading every step through the mist infested location. Featuring undoubtedly one of the creepiest video game villains of all time in the form of Pyramid Head, no need to imagine he’s exactly what you think he looks like, as well as some devilishly tricky puzzles, it’s ironic how much you’ll love spending time in a town full of such horrors.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
While by no means recent, having been released back in 1995 almost 30 years after the short story that it is based on was published, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream manages to create fear in the same way shows like The Twilight Zone mastered all those years ago. Following the tale of the last five humans on earth being punished by a self-aware super computer, the horrific torture and subsequent attempt to escape manages to flood with dread from every pore. Touching on subjects like rape, insanity, paranoia and genocide, the evil and good choices you are able to make adds another layer of horror to this already petrifying old school gem.
In space no one can hear you scream though anyone unfortunate to be living with you will once you play Dead Space. Set in, surprise surprise, space, you take on the role of ships engineer Isaac Clarke who is sent in to investigate a distress signal on the USG Ishimura with his crew. As things go to shit from 0-100, you’re left to fight your way through the ship against some of the most ghastly monsters you’ll ever come across, who have a nice tendency to rip your limbs off, as well as finding audio logs along the way that shed light on the dark and menacing history of the Ishimura prior to your arrival. Developed by Visceral Games, the death animations are aptly gory and will be sure to etch themselves into your nightmares, as will every waking second the decent sized campaign will offer.
Going now from the heights of space to the deep trenches of the sea, Bioshock starts off mysterious and never stops making you second guess. Taking place in the underwater city of Rapture, you find yourself arriving a bit late to the party as everything has, to put it simply, gone to shit. The once prosperous utopia has become a grizzly bloodbath with the inhabitants becoming deranged and you unfortunately finding yourself in their way. Despite being granted superhuman abilities thanks to ADAM, a substance which scattered audio logs will inform you about, you never feel truly safe in Rapture, especially not after your first encounter with a Big Daddy. A huge hulking creature with a massive drill for an arm, you can either build up the courage to fight or, sensibly, flee. Crying while doing so is optional but recommended.
To finish things off we have a 2015 surprise hit going by the name of Until Dawn. Essentially a choose your adventure style game but with a horror twist, Until Dawn is full of all the tropes and clichés you’ve came to love from your favourite slasher films which all manage to cross the line between tribute and knock off. With every choice you make affecting the chemistry between characters, all tremendously performed by some top class actors such as Mr Robot’s Rami Malek, you can very well end up finishing the game with every character six feet under. Quick reaction times, good intuition and a lot of courage is what will help you conquer what these snow drenched mountains are packing.