I love all things horror, but I’m never fully satisfied in the scare department. I love a good scare, and not just jump scares, I’m talking gore, tense scenes, something that’ll make me hold my breath and make my heart stop beating for a lengthy period. All of this combined with a good narrative.
At the cinema, over the past couple of years I’ve seen quite a few horror flicks and the only ones that I really enjoyed to its full potential (and did creep me out a bit) were The Conjuring (not the Conjuring 2), Lights Out, Don’t Breathe, The Boy and most recently Annabelle: Creation. Now I could rave on all day about how these tense horror flicks really intrigued me but there’s been a flux of survival horror games over the past few years that have really and truly jumped my bones and that I enjoyed playing to the max. One of them took me 2 months to complete on my first run through. Let’s have a look from “scare” to basically “wet myself”
6. Until Dawn
Until Dawn is basically an awesome young adult horror film and that’s one of the main attributes of this game that got me excited about it. After the mysterious death of two sisters, eight friends become trapped a year later on the same remote mountain retreat. Things quickly pick up and the realization that they’re not alone starts to kick in. It’s a very gripping and tense game where you have to make mega quick decision which could mean life or death for every single person, and the aftermath of some of those decisions won’t hit you until later on in the game. Every choice made, no matter how small paves the way for your own story making the replay value very high.
As an added bonus, attached are an amazing Hollywood cast and fantastic direction making Until Dawn very cinematic. The camera angles were brilliant creating that tense atmosphere I love to crave in the horror genre, building up to really good jump scares, but overall it’s a beautiful game to play. After playing a thousand times to get the platinum trophy, I went straight to Twitch to watch others play just so I could embrace how amazing the set pieces were. I absolutely love Until Dawn and its one of my favourite games of the past 5 years.
5. The Last Of Us
The Last of Us is truly a masterpiece and comes in as my all time favourite game. It’s not the scariest game I’ve ever played, but it’s just flawless.
Set in a post-apocalyptic US, The Last of Us tells the story of Joel, a proper Texan man voiced by the amazing Troy Baker, who has been surviving for 20 years since the outbreak. Joel and his partner Tess are given the mission to escort Ellie, a 14 year old girl who was born after the outbreak and has never set foot outside of a quarantine zone, as she has the possibility of holding the key to a cure. It’s a survival horror but is also a heart-warming road trip as you travel across country and discover how others are surviving in abandoned settlements, over grown and crumbled areas.
Naughty Dog really pushed the boat out with this one, from the opening scene it will get you all teary eyed. I literally said out loud “what am I playing!”. There’s a great balance between scares and emotional scenes. You really feel a connection between yourself, the characters, the environment with such beautiful set pieces, especially in the sense that you’re seeing the world through Ellie’s eyes even though you’re playing as Joel. The game really exploits those really quiet tense moments where you are holding your breath, constantly concentrating on trying to shiv a clicker without it hearing you, or try creeping past a hallway filled with bloaters. You can play this game all guns blazing, but your ammo is limited and to be honest, after the mass play-throughs I did, I can honestly say the best tactic is to stealth the whole thing, you’d be surprised how much stress and ammo you would have saved yourself, but your stealth has to be on point. It’s a straight forward narrative where you know there’s an end.
4. Evil Within
A gruesome mass murder has just happened and while investigating the scene of the crime, Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his partners come across a very mysterious, powerful force. After witnessing the slaughter of his fellow officers, Sebastian gets knocked unconscious and awakens to find himself in a weird, deranged world where some really creepy and disgusting creatures wander among the dead. The story follows Sebastian’s frightening journey with limited resources to unravel what’s behind this evil force that’s haunting him.
This is the game I mentioned above that took me 2 months to complete on my first run through on the PS3 (key information right there). Reason being, it was very disturbing, creepy, quite scary when you didn’t really know what was going on. It got to a point where I started to question why I was playing this game, so I took a break. I had also got to a point where I was stuck for a bit and didn’t really care much for the character of Sebastian as I thought he was really stiff and boring. But after passing that and really putting the time and effort into it (and repeating in the back of my head that it wasn’t real) I managed to power my way through it. I did enjoy playing it and it gave me everything I wanted, so much in that I upgraded, purchased it on the PS4 and replayed it in about a quarter of the time I had originally played it in. I couldn’t really expect anything less from Shinji Mikami after the creation of the Resident Evil series and knew from this point that the next installment of the Resi series would be scare galore.
3. Alien Isolation
Alien Isolation takes place fifteen years after the events of Alien. Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda goes on a mission to find out the truth behind her mother’s disappearance. Under powered and under prepared, you must face the annoying humans with weapons, relentless androids and a ruthless, unpredictable Xenomorph during the mission. The Alien literally pops up anytime and anywhere (including in the ventilation system, which I found out the hard way). It’s not just about succeeding in the mission; it’s mostly about staying alive.
The scariest of them all is the Alien. As she’s unscripted, no action is ever the same. You can’t kill her either; all you literally can do is hide and hold your breath. The slightest sound or breath you take, she’s got you so it’s that tension that makes this game super mega scary. In fact another element that makes Alien Isolation so distressingly scary are the save points. I kid you not, there’s not many and you have to really look for them. If you miss it and die, you could potentially be respawned a good 20 mins away from where you died (your last save point). You can also die while trying to save, its madness! I must also mention the brilliant direction, camera angles and the beautiful design of the ship. Together it creates a fantastic cinematic atmosphere really making you feel like you’re a part of the original film. Alien Isolation is another top game I’ve played in the past 5 years.
2. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
This was the game I was buzzing to play, until I watched a little gameplay of it and realised that my body wasn’t ready. After playing it though, I wasn’t sure where it would be suitable on the list because it was dead scary, truly terrifying at points, yet this was only the first half of the game. The second half wasn’t as scary but still creepy and gave a few jumps but it felt like I was playing a different game. Quite like the jump from Leon’s story to Chris in Resident evil 6. So for now it will sit at the number 2 spot until I manage to sit through another play through of this and Alien Isolation.
Set in a swampy, old Louisiana, protagonist Ethan Winters follows the trail of his presumed dead wife, Mia. He arrives at the Baker house where all hell breaks loose. The truth is revealed about what happened to Mia and one by one, you get to really meet each member of the family.
For me, the scariest family member was Jack Baker, the father. He’s the type of enemy that likes to show up everywhere, even when you think he’s dead. What makes Resident Evil 7 even scarier is the fact that you have to find keys to open doors and do puzzles etc like the other games in the franchise. It’s not great when you’ve got enemies popping up out of the blue or trying to avoid any actions that would do so. So it’s not a straight forward narrative like The Last of Us where a path is paved out for you. It’s basically the unknown that frightens you. I can only imagine how terrifying Resident Evil must be on the VR.
1. Outlast (inc Whistleblower DLC)
Let’s talk about survival horror at its best. The story begins with your character, a journalist named Miles Upshur, who breaks into an abandoned home for the mentally ill (Mount Massive Asylum) after an anonymous tip. The facility had recently been reopened but is operating under strict secrecy. Inside, he finds that terror awaits, drawing a very thin line between science, religion, nature and some other crazy force. How do you escape? All that you have is a camcorder to help you see through the dark but batteries only last so long.
Outlast is a true survival horror that really grabs you by the balls (or in this case my ovaries) as you have no idea what is coming around the corner, in front or behind you. All you can do is run and hide, there’s no combat and when you get to the dark areas, its pitch black so you need the camcorder in night vision to see what your about to walk into. Tense isn’t even the best word to describe the type of scare Outlast brings. It’s also gory and quite like Evil Within, it can make you feel a bit uneasy at times.
The DLC Whistleblower, is just as scary. It reveals the reasons behind the Mount Massive Asylum’s outbreak, while at the same time overlapping with the main story to reveal its conclusion from the cliffhanger at the end of Outlast. It’s the same principle, gore galore and makes you want to pee every 5 minutes. The outcome of Outlast was a sore throat for a few days but it was worth it. I look forward to playing Outlast 2.
Evil within 2 will be released on Friday 13th October… obviously I’ll let you know how I get on *wink*
Comment below with the best horror games you’ve played in the past couple of years and maybe I’ll be able to jump on those wagons. Happy gaming!