While some may consider the last 10 years the weakest for the horror genre in gaming, these 10 games from the last decade are some of the best the genre has ever seen.
Last year, Hideo Kojima treated gamers to a frightening playable teaser called P.T. that was meant to offer a taste of what they could expect from Silent Hills. Horror enthusiasts especially loved P.T.‘s penchant for scares and its originality in conjuring them, and couldn’t wait to see what Kojima’s fully realized vision play out in the twisted world of Silent Hills.
And then, just like that, the macabre dream of Silent Hills was ripped away from horror gaming fans. Hideo Kojima parted ways with Konami, Silent Hills was cancelled, and to make matters worse, P.T. was permanently removed from the PlayStation Store.
The death of Silent Hills is certainly something that horror gaming fans should mourn, but even with Silent Hills and P.T. gone, there’s still plenty of quality modern horror games for fans to enjoy. While few can replicate the pure potential for scares that P.T. brought to the table, there are excellent examples of the horror genre nevertheless. For the horror gaming fans that have already played all the older classics and are still looking to scratch the itch that P.T. left behind, consider giving these 10 games a go.
Alan Wake (2010)
Essentially a Stephen King novel in video game form, Alan Wake follows the titular protagonist as he travels to the small mountain of Bright Falls in hopes of curing his writer’s block. Wake quickly discovers that the town of Bright Falls is not what it seems, and must do battle with an evil presence armed with little more than a flashlight and a few firearms.
While the slower pace was a turnoff for some gamers, others were able to appreciate the level of detail that Remedy Entertainment put into crafting the creepy town of Bright Falls. Hopefully once Remedy wraps development on Quantum Break, they will consider returning to the horror genre for Alan Wake 2.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010)
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is largely responsible for revitalizing interest in the horror genre after many of the established horror franchises strayed from their roots. Amnesia forgoes action in favor of stealth, tasking players with exploring the haunting halls of an ancient castle while avoiding the unspeakable abominations that dwell inside it. Amnesia is a genuinely scary game as well as a great horror game, and is definitely one that should be played with the lights off, face close to the screen as possible, and with headphones on for maximum scare potential.
Ken Levine and his team at Irrational blew the gaming world away with 2007’s BioShock. Equal parts philosophical science-fiction narrative, competent first-person shooter, and harrowing tale of horror, BioShock is quite simply a must-play game.
The psychotic, disfigured denizens of Rapture still haunt our nightmares, as do the pleading cries of the Little Sisters, before making the choice to either spare them or harvest them for a higher reward. Fantastic use of psychological horror combined with an atmosphere so rich that it practically strangles the player help make BioShock a must-play game in the genre.
Condemned: Criminal Origins (2005)
Launching alongside the Xbox 360 in 2005, Condemned: Criminal Origins was one of the stronger launch titles for the system. The game cuts to the chase fairly quickly, with players bombarded by drug-addled murderers and horrific gore right from the outset, forced to beat back their attackers with whatever they find lying around. The plot is a twisting tale of crime and terror, and remains one of the most chilling experiences on Xbox 360 to date. And don’t even get us started on the mannequins…
Dead Space (2008)
The concept of Dead Space is more or less Resident Evil 4 in space, but the team at Visceral managed to surpass the game’s inspiration in terms of pure horror and scares. As Isaac Clarke, players are forced to explore the derelict USG Ishimura, only to find the crew transformed into disgusting creatures that can only be destroyed by severing their limbs. Isaac is able to accomplish this using various mining tools, but even with this creative arsenal at his disposal, players are still likely to see Isaac die gruesome deaths many times over before the credits roll.
One of the more popular horror tropes is the “creepy little girl”, largely thanks to films like The Ring. The video game equivalent of The Ring girl is Alma, a creepy little girl in a red dress from F.E.A.R. that is able to stop armed players in their tracks with terror. She may not look like much, but Alma is extraordinarily powerful, and while things got a little convoluted in the F.E.A.R. sequels, her story is still an engrossing one.