Top 5 Scariest Games – Martin Baker

by on January 24, 2011

Over the years there have been many games that have considered themselves a part of the horror genre, only a few of those can truly been considered “scary” though. Fear is a strange thing, it’s personal experience of something, some people can find the mere thought of a clown terrifying whilst other people can find that same image simply funny. Fear is something that can only be experienced on a personal level, and that’s what makes it quite difficult to narrow down the horror games that I’ve played over the years into a top 5. Some of them are truly scary whilst some of them were only scary to me, for reasons known only to the dark recesses of my own mind.

Let’s see what I chose then shall we?

5. Doom 3 (PC)

While Doom 3 wasn’t an inherently scary game there are certainly things about it that was meant to shock, things jumping out of vents in the ceiling and stuff like that. What I liked about Doom 3 was its use of the dark. One of the main game mechanics was that you couldn’t have your flashlight equipped while you also had a weapon drawn. This meant that if you could see the enemy you could do little more than whack it over the head with something mildly weighty and vice-versa. If you could shoot the enemy (because you had your weapon equipped and not the torch) then you usually ended up shooting wildly into the void of blackness. A message from experience though, don’t forget you’re signed into Ventrilo while you’re playing it.

Yeah…I didn’t enjoy that particular scare when, after about an hour of silence, someone sneezed into Ventrilo.

4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Sega Master System 2)

I know what you’re going to say and, in hindsight, you’re right. Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the Sega Master System 2 (and just about every other console available in late 1992, early 1993) isn’t a scary game. However, as I said at the start of this list, fear is something that’s felt on a personal level and when this game came out I would have been 6 years old. I thought it was the coolest game on the face of the planet at that time, as well as the scariest. There was nothing in the world that induced fear in me at that age more than the image of the 3 brides of Dracula chasing me down dimly lit corridors. It was one of those games where the music alone could make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

I wanted to pick one of the old school games that I played as a kid and it was either Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Terminator or Alien 3. In the end Dracula won because I think that was probably the only game that I actually finished out of those three, so I’ll probably always have fond memories of it. Even if it is a movie tie-in game.

We can forget about that though.


3. Painkiller (PC)

I didn’t play Painkiller when it first came out and when I saw that it was a first person shooter I wasn’t really interested. They were showing off some pretty impressive effects, ragdoll physics being the one that eventually drew me in, but that fact that it was a first person shooter turned me right off. I bought the game in a sale and, after the first level, ended up loving the it. Not only is the story somewhat intriguing, but the main weapon of the game is a gun that fires stakes. How can you not love that? Couple the fact that you can impale your enemies and attach them to walls with the breathtaking ragdoll physics (breathtaking at the time, although I’m sure if I installed the game now I might not think so) and you’ve got yourself a game that pretty much never gets tiring.

The scary part of Painkiller came when the player would walk around a corner only to be confronted with a gargantuan demon they were supposed to fight. This game came out just before God of War so the game playing audience wasn’t really accustomed to this scale of boss fight. I’m not saying that it wasn’t done before, but it definitely wasn’t as prolific. Walking into a boss fight in Painkiller was just about the most frightening thing in gaming at that moment in time, and the rest of the game isn’t tame either!

2. Resident Evil 2 (PlayStation)

The first time I saw Resident Evil 2 was when it had just been released in 1998, I was at a friends house and we were playing through the demo discs that used to come with the Official PlayStation Magazine (that’s right kids there wasn’t always Xbox LIVE to download demos from) and when we came to Resident Evil 2 demo we were both unsure. We played it anyway and, needless to say, it scared the crap out of us. I don’t think we ever even finished that demo, I think we always got to the part where the licker runs across the window and gives the player a little “Did I just see something?” moment and then we turned it off, running away like little girls. At that age though the scare is part of the thrill and we always kept coming back for more.

When I eventually got around to playing the game myself about a year later I loved everything about it, from beginning to end. Sure, there were some glitches here and there and I couldn’t just go to the internet to see which tiny pixel the game wanted me to point Leon at but I had a lot of fun and that’s the whole point. Some moments in that game are still some of the scariest moments in my personal gaming history, and Resident Evil 2 was the scariest game I’d played until…

1. F.E.A.R. (PC)

In my opinion the scariest game I’ve ever played is F.E.A.R., without a shadow of a doubt. Every good horror movie creates a feeling of suspense before anything horrific or terror inducing actually occurs. That’s the same with F.E.A.R., if you see the lights flicker slightly, even out of the corner of your eye, then there’s probably something about to happen. It could be in the next 10 seconds, it could be in the next 10 minutes, but that fact that you’ve noticed something happening means that you’re already on the edge of your seat, already expecting something to happen and already getting scared. That’s what F.E.A.R. does so well, the scares. Alma is one of the freakiest antagonists I’ve seen in any game (or film, for that matter), she’s similar in concept to the girl from The Ring but that little bit more…wrong.

I haven’t played F.E.A.R. since it came out, but I can still reel off countless numbers of times it made me jump with photographic detail. I ended up being massively apprehensive about any corner I’d have to go around, any darkened room I had to go into. It changed the way I play first person shooters to an extent, I’m a lot more careful now, and it’s not because I’m afraid of being shot in the face…it’s just because I’m afraid.

Alma might be around there, watching…waiting.

Honourable Mentions:

Dead Space

While Dead Space didn’t really scare me per se, it certainly got the amount of tension required to initiate a scare correct. A tension filled, incredibly enjoyable experience and, when the going gets a little TOO tough, you can separate some limbs from bodies. Fun!

I’m definitely looking forward to Dead Space 2 at the end of the month

Genma Onimusha

Is there anything scarier than a doll that mysteriously comes to life? Yes! A doll that mysteriously comes to life and has knives! Even though I knew what was coming (you would usually see the doll well before it activated), it still freaked me out. It’s not a major part of the game, which is why it didn’t make the list, but it’s still something that stuck with me, so I thought it at least deserved a quick mention.

Alan Wake

Alan Wake was another game that didn’t skip on the tension. I don’t really class it as a scary game because most of the stuff that happens is pretty obvious, but lights going out all over the place and the ominous music starting up certainly helps keep the tension very high all the way through. A great game and there are scary moments, it’s just not a constant in the story. Worth a mention though.

Don’t forget to tell us what you thought of my Top 5 list, think I’m a scaredy cat? Tell me all about it on our forums (I’ll probably agree, although I need to keep that masculine feel so I’ll at least attempt to argue), alternatively you can tell us through Twitter.

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