The spooky season is upon us (and it’s been quite a spooky year already!)—which means it’s time to get into Halloween spirit and play some scary games. There are so many well-designed video games in the horror genre, but we want to highlight the five scariest that we’ve come across.
It may have been released over a decade ago, but Dead Space remains one of the scariest games to have ever been created. A combination of unparalleled design—with unending gray, cold corridors, a looming soundscape behind, and highly realistic imaging—plus a storyline filled with the unknown keeps players on the literal edge of their seat. In the role of engineer Isaac Clarke, who’s stuck on a deserted spacecraft, players’ main enemy throughout are Necromorphs—a.k.a. mutated alien corpses come to life (and hungry for human flesh, of course). The game manages to both be incredibly suspenseful and action-packed, with horror and scare tactics employed throughout. If you’re looking for a solid spook this Halloween, Dead Space is sure to provide. Play it on PS3, Xbox 360, or PC.
Most horror video games stick to the fantasy and sci-fi realms, terrifying players with aliens and zombies and rabid werewolves. Condemned, however, is set squarely in the real world—one in which a serial killer is on the run. You play as the lone investigator trying to track said serial killer down, treading through crime scene after crime scene and, eventually, to a mannequin-turned-killer laden department store. Yeah…not for the faint of heart. Condemned also landed on the scene long ago—back in 2005—but its originality (and low-lit, haunting nature) keeps it on this list. Dive into the investigation on Xbox 360.
Silent Hill 2
We can’t have a list of the world’s scariest games without mentioning the Silent Hill franchise. In our minds—and many others’—Silent Hill 2 ranks top among the series’ games. Unlike Condemned, Silent Hill returns to fantasy as the game’s protagonist (and you, as the player), James Sunderland, goes back to foggy Silent Hill, the place he and his late wife liked to meet, after receiving a letter from “her” three years after her death. The dream becomes a nightmare as he encounters many monsters and a disturbing fork in the road, made worse by James’ own psychological monsters as the game goes on. James is clearly haunted, and in all likelihood, you will be, too, after playing. Take your chances on PS2.
Resident Evil 2 and 7
Much like Silent Hill, the Resident Evil series is one for horror lore and legend in the video gaming world, and you can’t have a list of scares without including at least one of its iterations. Well, we’re including two: Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Resident Evil 2 succeeded in marrying the action of the game to the story in ways that surpassed the original, with an over-the-shoulder perspective that helps keep things close to home and cutting close. Moving from the mansion of the first game to the streets of Raccoon City—streets teeming not just with zombies but also with humans as dangerous as their counterparts—the game takes Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield through a mine of mistrust and mistaken allies. Good luck. Play it on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
A few more games in the Resi series later, the franchise rebooted with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Much of the gaming community anticipated a failure but found, to our pleasant surprise (if you can describe anything about the game as pleasant…), it delivered greatly. Keeping the game very in line with the rest of the series, with limited ammo, unsafe safe rooms, seditious torturers, and well-disguised (and revealed) puzzles and thrills, this one does stray in one more horrific way: Resident Evil 7 takes it to first-person, with VR capabilities to boot. Far from ruining the game, it makes it that much more real and that much more intense. We recommend playing it on PSVR, but it’s also available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic, Alien, has seen quite a few successful spin-offs, and the video game franchise largely delivered. But Alien: Isolation arguably delivered best. Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, learns that the flight recorder, which presumably holds the last recording of her mother, is on a distant space station. She sets out to find it only to encounter the notorious monster Xenomorph—the very same one that fought her mother. (Among many other fun—reads: not fun—creatures.) No one, no matter who you are, can kill Xenomorph, but it’s Amanda’s job to try. A true survival game, with an incredible setting that stays up to standard through to the very end, Alien: Isolation will make you feel isolated, tense, impressed, and terrified all at once. Not exactly a nightcap for your evening, make sure to play this one long before bed—available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
We’ve detailed just five (well, actually, six) games on our list, but there are plenty of scary options for you to play this season. Tell us, which horror video games are your favorites?