Part philosophical musing, part objectivist nightmare, Bioshock is a complex game that plays with your mind just as much as it plays with the hairs on the back of your neck. From the time you crash into the mid Atlantic to the time you embed a putter in Andrew Ryan’s skull and, with the help of some little sisters with big needles, take down Fontaine, you are cautiously creeping around corners. Each new room is fraught with danger from splicers, security cameras, and Big Daddies. In Rapture, everything is out to get you and soon enough you’ll start seeing Splicers in the dark corners of your room. There might even be a Little Sister under your bed just waiting to harvest some Adam from you.
You would think that things become a bit less scary when you aren't playing a game shut up in a dark room all by yourself. But, the frantic onslaught of zombies keeps things fresh and fun with three others who are just as scared as you. It’s a visceral threat to survival that makes Left 4 Dead so frightening. I leaves you all wondering if the creaking in your closet is a bloody monster or just a hinge in need of grease.
Usually when you’re given heavy ordinance, the fear factor in a video game lessens a bit. But, somehow, Doom 3 gets the mix of big guns and even bigger scares just right. Obviously a portal to hell or some such demonic plane opens up on Mars as usual, and you have to make it out alive. You main problem is you characters inability to hold a flashlight and a gun at the same time. This keeps you frantically fumbling for a weapon as a demon contemplates which horderve it would like to eat before your face.
Never before had a game messed with gamers more than Eternal Darkness. In addition to being atmospherically unsettling and your character being more or less defensless, this game had a few other tricks to mess with your mind. Let the sanity meter dwindle low enough and that game might start experienceing glitches. Errors with your saved game and booting up Super Mario Bros. are just a couple of the problems you might find. But, as always it would jolt you back to the world of Eternal Darkness leaving you wondering what the hell happened and that much more confused and scared.
The least gorey game in our scariest video games ever list happens to be one of our scariest. Your task is simple: wander the woods collecting eight bits of paper with information about the Slender Man. The wind whooshes through trees, you hear whispers as you come upon the secrets of the forest. But every time you turn around, the Slender Man is there. He is always getting closer. You can’t look away without him gaining ground, but you can’t complete your task without exploring. Look away at your own risk.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Indie developers really know how to scare the undergarments off of gamers. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is no exception. This game plays like a first person adventure game that has a bit less adventure and much more pants wetting terror on the menu. You obviously have amnesia and have to piece together what has happened while at the same time avoiding the supernatural horror dogging your every step. Unlike most horror games that show you a full frontal monster, if you catch a even the slightest glimpse of this beast, your guts will be on the floor and you’ll be staring at a game over screen.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Combat in horror games range from nonexistent to controller snapping frustration. Tossing aside the presupposition that your character is an invalid who can’t shoot or attack unless standing still, Condemned: Criminal Origins breaks the mold and provides the most visceral hand to hand combat imaginable while managing to make you soil your undies around every turn. People have been losing their minds and someone or something has been brutally murdering serial killers. You’re tasked with bludgeoning anything in your way of solving the mystery. The enemies are cruel and smart, often hiding. Also, guns are a rare luxury and you have to desperately claw at the scenery in search of something to pummel your assailant into a bloody pulp as another one sneaks up on you.
Atmosphere is the most important ingredient in any horror game recipe. Silent Hill is the most famous demonic town in all of gaming for a good reason. The dichotomy from the light and the dark made players feel completely helpless. The level of creepy attention paid to the town itself made you pee down your leg at the slightest noise. Not only was the town itself a character, but the evil things lurking in the darkness kept the bile rising in your throat. Struggling, shuffling, damned beasts contorting themselves into odd angles made you cringe and think about flipping the off switch. Even with your system off, you still glanced around corners looking for Pyramid Head.
Undoubtedly the juggernaut of the survival horror genre, and one of the scariest video games ever, the Resident Evil Franchise has been terrorizing gamers since its inception. Resident Evil 4, without a doubt is the best game in the franchise. Transferring the game from cramped corridors to the eerie forests of Spain made the environment all the more unsettling. Danger lurked around every tree trunk. The constant searching for ammo and the plethora of things that want to rip your head off kept gameplay desperate. It was fun, it made you jump, and made you think twice about a camping trip in Spain.
Nothing is more terrifying than horrific events based on a true story. The mansion from Fatal Frame has a real life counterpart in Japan. Being the site of some grotesqueries, it would only make sense that someone would have used it to scare the pants off some gamers. Fatal Frame is a survival horror game that provides you with no weapons except for a camera. Through it, you can view the demonic and spectral entities flowing around the mansion you must escape. With only a bit of film that captures malevolent spirits, be prepared for a game that will make you feel helpless, alone, and absolutely paranoid about every little sound.