CSG’s Top Picks: Horror Games
It’s October, and you know what that meeaannnss…. spooky, scary skeletons send shivers down your spine! Also the time for horror and spooks. We here as CSG have compiled a list of our top horror games of all time (at least until something better comes out) for your reading enjoyment.
Chris’ Pick: F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
F.E.A.R. 2 is the second in a series of first-person tactical shooter horror games developed by Monolith Productions, published in 2009. The game starts approximately half an hour before the end of the first game, and then continues on the story of the fight against Alma, a supernatural being desperate on claiming revenge on those who wronged her. The game retains many of the core gameplay elements of its prequel, including bullet-time and special martial arts moves, as well as an AI that improves on the extremely clever AI of the first game.
Chris says that despite some pacing issues it capitalized really well on the spirit horror sub-genre with genuinely spooky jump scares as well as good presentation and a solid FPS base, while still maintaining a fair degree of difficulty.
Brent and Robert’s Pick: Dead Space
Aim for the arm you moron!
Dead Space, developed by EA Redwood Shores and released in 2008 is the first in a trilogy of science fiction survival horror games. The camera is set in a claustrophobic, over the shoulder third-person perspective. The crew of the USG Ishimura have been slaughtered and their bodies reanimated as monstrous creatures called Necromorphs, which must be strategically dismembered to be defeated. However, some of the monsters can regrow their limbs or spawn new creatures for the player to deal with.
Brent and Robert both agree that the story pacing in Dead Space is fantastic, and the position of the camera and nature of the gunplay mean the player needs to listen to the environment around them rather than just looking for spooks. Not to mention some seriously creepy, messed up moments, plenty of gore and solid jump scares.
Andrew’s Pick: Silent Hill 2
Confused? Uneasy? Scared? That’s it, that’s the game.
Silent Hill 2 is widely regarded to be one of if not the best survival horror game ever developed, and is certainly considered to be the best Silent Hill game in the series. It was initially released back in 2001 on the PlayStation 2 and continues to be played do this day. Many sites hail it as the most disturbing and intelligent horror game ever made. To put it simply, Silent Hill 2 gets into your mind and messes with you just as much as it messes with your poor protagonist.
Andrew had a lot to say about Silent Hill 2, not the least being how closely the oppressive environment of the town of Silent Hill ties into the story. The combat is cumbersome and clunky and hard, as it should be, against enemies that represent the protagonist most deeply suppressed desires. To quote him directly, Silent Hill 2 is, “A fascinating portrayal of heartbreak, a timeless, essential work of art.”
(Fun fact from Kat: Silent Hill (or at least the movie town) is based on a real town in Pennsylvania that just happens to be fairly close to where I live and it is genuinely creepy.)
Braulio’s Pick: Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 (known as Biohazard 4 in Japan) was developed and published by Capcom and released on the GameCube and PlayStation 2 in 2005. Like in Dead Space, the camera is positioned over the shoulder and very close to the protagonist’s body, narrowing down the field of view and making it difficult to see all angles from which enemies may come, as well as adding to the general claustrophobic feel of the game. It received multiple game of the year awards in 2005 and is widely regarded as one of the best video games of all time.
Braulio’s reasons for liking the game are short, sweet and to the point: it’s really, really, really good.
Tony and Joe’s Pick: Outlast
Okay the rules of hide and seek do not include you getting to kill me when you find me.
Asylums are creepy. Abandoned asylums are doubly creepy. Abandoned asylums filled with crazy naked people and a doctor who wants to kill you and also there’s a supernatural evil thing in the basement are even worse. Outlast is an independent first-person horror game developed by Red Barrels Inc. and released in 2013 where the player has no useable inventory outside of a camcorder, which serves as a way to record events in the asylum and see in the dark. You have no weapons. You either run from your enemies and hide or you die. It’s creepy, it’s quiet, and it’s made me even more scared of asylums than I already was.
Tony and Joe’s thoughts: it’s creepy, it plays on natural fear and makes the player and protagonist rely on wits and hoping that they can run fast enough…
Dan’s Pick: Full Throttle
Full Throttle, published by LucasArts, initially released in 1995 and recently remastered isn’t actually a horror game, but a dark point and click adventure game that would scare the pants off of any video game loving child. Like Dan. Everything was terrifying. He might not remember the actual game all that well but he’s still held onto that feeling.
The game puts you in the boots of a biker who is thrown into a plot of conspiracy and murder. It might not be “scary” like the other games on this list, but horror is in the eye of the beholder. Hopefully not actually in their eye. Like that one scene in Dead Space. No eye needles.
Adam’s Pick: System Shock
I don’t know what that is and I don’t want to know.
Look at you hacker, pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors…
Artificial Intelligence is present in a lot of today’s common technology, from GPS to cell phones to Amazon’s Echo. But what if that A.I. was a supercomputer bent on taking over the world? Well, then you have System Shock, a cyberpunk first person survival horror game developed by Looking Glass Technologies and published in 1994. You’re in space, in a large space station that’s been completely abandoned. Every crew member is either dead, will be dead, or is dead and has come back to life as a zombie mutant. Not to mention all the robots have gone crazy and the ship’s defence systems are coming after you.
Adam points out how well the game represents the possible horrors of A.I. tech and cybernetic enhancements. Is this something that could happen if we give machines too much intelligence? Too much power? He also loves the way you have to piece together the plot through audio logs rather than an exposition dump. Finally, you’re all alone in a desolated, claustrophobic, isolated environment, and no one is coming to save you.
Kat’s Pick: Alien Isolation
I do not play horror games because I am a gigantic wuss. The furthest I ever got in a horror game was into the dungeons in Amnesia: The Dark Descent and then I got a new computer and lost my save and said, “oh well.” I do enjoy watching other people play, however, and I can still say what I think a good game is without having to play it for myself.
Alien Isolation is a first-person survival horror game set in the famous Alien franchise, set fifteen years after the events of the movie. You may not be the only person on the ship, but everyone and everything else is out to kill you, including other humans, androids and, of course, an alien. While there are ways to engage in direct combat, it is usually not advisable and is more intended to be used to escape rather than a way to “clean out the trash.”
Alien Isolation harkens marvelously back to the original film and the aesthetics of the time it was set in, using the bulkier technology of the 80s than the sleek, modern look that so many sci-fi games go with. And it’s spooky, and tense, and dark. It doesn’t matter where you go on the ship there are very few, if any (excluding save points) places that are truly safe. You are being hunted, and you can be damn sure that you’ll be aware of that every agonizing step of the way.