Okay, I make no secret that I’m a coward when it comes to videogames, but as Halloween is right around the corner, I have braved the dark corridors of gaming horror and have compiled the scariest games known to console and PC! Prepare to feel like something’s watching you from afar … or running a long scaly finger down the back of your neck …
- Five Nights at Freddy’s (2014)
I debated putting this on the list, as it primarily relies on jump scares to frighten the player, which is quite easy/cheap to do, however the original concept and the reinvigoration of the point and click adventure are enough for me to put it on the list. You play the night guard of a ‘Chuck E. Cheese’ spoof restaurant over the course of five nights where the animatronic, humanoid animals, come alive and seek you out. It’s tense and the jump scares are never not, infuriatingly scary.
- Condemned: Criminal Origins (2005)
Now, Condemned has a lot of jump scares as well, however there’s more going on here to unsettle and unnerve the player. You play an FBI agent who is on the hunt for a serial killer who had framed you for murder. The game focuses on melee combat, which only serves to heighten the tension as you can’t simply hide behind an upturned desk and shoot them in the head from a safe distance. You’re going to need to get up close and personal with your fears and then bash them in the head with a crowbar …
- Dead Space (2008)
Dead Space may be more of an action/shooter than the rest of the games on this list, however when it comes to pure, pulse pounding, adrenaline rushes, this game can’t be beaten. You play a futuristic engineer on a near-abandoned space station and you’re only armed with your futuristic tools. Luckily for you, these tools are remarkably like modern day weapons, except they’re better at chopping off alien limbs, which luckily for you is the only way to put these ‘necromorphs’ down for good.
- Slender: The Eight Pages (2012)
Slender Man is what is known as a ‘quasi-folklore’ figure, because it is claimed he is a figure from German mythology, however he was in fact created in the past decade or so. Slender Man is a tall, anthropomorphised, faceless, suit wearer who usually takes kids to the woods and eat them and if you’re thinking about him (like you are now for reading this) then he is also thinking about you … and coming for you … He is a great horror creation that is just crying out for a film to be made, however we’ll have to settle for the games, like The Eight Pages which is little more than demo where you run around a wood trying to find the pages before Slender Man can get close enough to you. This is really quite terrifying … you’ve been warned.
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017)
Resident Evil is one of gaming’s great franchises, having stretched from the mid- 90s, the games have served as the pinnacle of art featuring zombies and have terrified countless children and teenagers (and many adults, to be fair). The most recent entry kept a lot of what made the series great, like its puzzles, however changed the games to a first person POV, which only served to heighten the terror to – for me – unplayable levels … but then, I’m a big coward.
- Alien: Isolation (2014)
I adore the Alien franchise … well, the first two, at least … and so I was very excited when this game was announced and we started seeing some gameplay footage. Unfortunately, at the back of my mind was the idea that the gameplay footage looked a bit scary … well the game was, actually … much, much worse. From the very beginning I was almost too scared to play and the creepy, ‘Working Joes’ were almost enough to get me to stop playing. Needless to say, when the Xenomorph made its appearance, I lasted around an hour or two more before putting the controller down and never picking it up again.
- PT (2014)
As with Slender, this game is actually a demo of what to expect, rather than an actual game … unfortunately Silent Hills was cancelled and so we will have to stick with PT. The game was a taster of the new entry on the Silent Hill franchise, but now from a first-person point of view … and really f**king creepy! You’re stuck in an endless looping corridor (ala House of Leaves) with a scary ghost woman and an Eraserhead-style fetus. I did not need this game in my life, if I’m honest with you.
- Silent Hill 2 (2001)
Sticking with Silent Hill for a moment, let’s discuss the second – and best – entry in the franchise. The game that had you running around the foggiest town in America as your own personal demons and psychoses manifested themselves throughout the town … chiefly, the nightmare-fuel, Pyramid Head, who is quite possibly the most iconic videogame horror bad guy with his marionette raping and giant knife wielding tendencies … Although there is a hidden ending with a dog, so all’s well that ends well, I suppose.
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010)
This game can still make people have traumatic flashbacks to this day. It was a first-person horror, adventure game that saw you exploring a castle (never a good idea). Whilst the game is populated with monsters and you have no real hope of defence, the scariest aspect of the game, or at least, the aspect that made it so adrenaline pumping, was the fact that you had to control your sanity. If your character lingered too long in the dark, stared at monsters for too long, or witnessed one too many horrifying events, your sanity would decrease, which would cause hallucinations as well as drawing the attention of monsters. Not a pleasant experience for anyone, really …
- Fatal Frame/Project Zero (2001)
Any of the last five games could have sat at number one, but I’ve gone with Fatal Frame due the very nature of the game and what it forces you to do. The game is heavily inspired by Japanese horror and because of the boom in Japanese horror cinema in the late 90s and early 00s due to films like The Ring and The Grudge, this game proved popular in the west. Unfortunately, it was as terrifying as those films and had you fighting invisible ghosts with a camera. You couldn’t see the ghosts and then you’d pull up your camera and BAM, there was a ghost … no thank you … good night … I’m off to watch Teletubbies …