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Top 5 Scariest Games – Robin Parker

by on January 20, 2011

As part of the Horror Month here at GodisaGeek, each of the writers on the site are putting together lists of their top 5 scariest games. January will see the release of Dead Space 2, sequel to one of the most truly scary video games in recent memory, and we are celebrating that release by looking back at some of the games that have scared us the most in the past.

So, position yourself on the edge of your seat and prepare to come face-to-face with my top 5 list of some of the most disturbing titles ever played.

5. Dino Crisis

Often just seen as a Resident Evil clone or spin-off, Dino Crisis did for survival horror games what 28 Days Later did for Zombie films – the addition of speed. Whilst zombies in games had always shuffled along at a shambling pace up to this point, the inclusion of Velociraptors and the T-Rex really amped up the action and tension in this game. The enemies could flank you and circle you, truly trapping you and catching you off guard with their attacks. Raptors would appear from nowhere and the use of the then-young Dual Shock vibration was masterful in delivering more scares. The pinnacle comes early in the game however, when exploring an office in a research compound, you speak with a dying man, who gives you a mysterious clue. Upon passing a large window, a ravenous T-Rex smashes its head through and attacks. The pacing of the game has been so slow and subdued up to this point, that it comes as a real surprise and delivers genuine shocks.

4. Clock Tower 3

Released by Tecmo, this game is certainly one of the lesser-known of its kind on the PlayStation 2. The first two Clock Tower titles were more adventure games, whereas this installment saw the series shift into survival horror territory. Playing as a young schoolgirl who, against her mother’s wishes, returns to the family home only to find said parent missing and a whole host of horrors and enemies in her way. The Scissorman was the main enemy in previous iterations and whilst he makes a return, this game is far more complex than previous outings and features a strong storyline – however strange and twisted. The run and chase aspect of survival horror is very prominent here and as always, this gameplay mechanic straight-away instils panic into the player. Let down by its easy puzzles and frustrating controls, the atmosphere here is dripping with fear, and it is one game you will have to play to realise quite how disturbing it can be.

3. BioShock

Not a straight horror game per se, but this creepy first-person shooter includes a spooky atmosphere that would put a many true horror titles to shame. Set on a 1940’s underwater “Utopia” (Rapture) that has fallen into disrepair, the atmosphere is immediately full of dread and the feeling that something terrible has happened.  The real scares here come from the Splicers (genetically modified humans gone crazy) who will lurch out and spring up from the dead when you least expect. Other characters are either deranged or want you dead. The lighting and sound effects only aid in heightening the tension as you search for the truth behind what really happened to Rapture, and to stop its monomaniacal leader. It might not be considered true horror, but BioShock is certainly disturbing and will remain with you for a long time.

2. Fatal Frame

Not a game series  that has ever performed particularly well outside of Japan, the popularity of Japanese horror films such as The Ring and The Grudge has ensured that this series (also known as Project Zero) has garnered a cult following. As often happens in Japanese horror, it is not the traditional over-the-top horror movie monsters who are the aggressors…it’s the ghosts. The game casts a Japanese schoolgirl (see a trend here?) in the role of protagonist, entering a haunted house armed only with an enchanted camera, which captures the ghosts and is her only form of protection. An inventive game mechanic on its own, but the eerie atmosphere and thriller-storyline really make this stand out above other games of its time. Seeing ghosts lurch out at the screen at the last minute as you look through the viewfinder will produce hours of shocks and make you think twice about using a camera again for some time.

1. Silent Hill

Could it be any other game at number one? Undoubtedly the series has suffered setbacks in recent years, despite the strong reboot – Shattered Memories – but the first two games in the run (especially the first game) really set the standard for human-based fear in video games, rather than the monster madness seen in many others. Taking inspiration from films such as The Mist by Stephen King, Silent Hill used fog and darkness to not only mask its faults, but to highlight the fear of not knowing what was ahead. Playing as Harry Mason (whose daughter is missing) you will wander a seemingly deserted town as fog and snow take hold. He discovers the town of Silent Hill actually transforms into a hellish state and must deal with this as well as other horrors in order to protect his daughter. The human element of loss and the psychological scare tactics used in the game were a first for gaming, and marked it out from competitors. We all know that it is the unseen and what we picture in our heads that is far more scary than what we are presented with. Silent Hill really used this to great effect to make us think something horrible was going to happen, even when we were safe. Scaring without the blood and monsters is, in my opinion, the most disturbing.

Stay tuned to GodisaGeek.com for more articles in our Horror Month, leading up to the release of Dead Space 2 on January 25th.

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