While summer is out and the world is full of beautiful sunshine, we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane to check out some of the spookiest games of all time. Available on multiple platforms, each of these games brings a slightly different take on our favorite genre. So turn out the lights and get ready to feel some spooks!
There are very few Alien games worth a crap, but this entry was an exception. Instead of focusing on the space marine atmosphere of “Aliens,” it concentrated on the fear and dread incumbent in the final scenes of the first movie. What’s the one thing scarier than a xenomorph staring you down across a hallway on an abandoned and dying spaceship? Trick question: there’s nothing scarier.
They Bleed Pixels
While this retro-styled platformer is relatively new, it recreates the halycon days of “NES hard.” You play a girl haunted by Lovecraftian nightmares of an elder realm. During the game, you transform into a beast that brutally slaughters monsters in a unique “one-button” action game. String together combos and earn the right to place save points wherever you want.
Silent Hill 2
The first Silent Hill game set the tone and create an obviously tough act to follow. The sequel did it with aplomb. Introducing Pyramid Head and the frightening nurses, you play James Sunderland, a man tormented by his past. Truly scary stuff after all these years. And it is leagues better than the movies, which have their fans, but which also stray a little too far from the source material.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Easily the scariest indie game of all time, this game grew in popularity as reaction videos showed people freaking out as they tried to piece together the game’s rich story. You play a man tryign to stay sane while avoiding wild monsters and difficult spooky moments. The scariest part is that you have no way to defend yourself except running as fast as you can. Not for the faint of heart.
While the full-motion video interface is a little clunky today, the creepy story of ghosts and possession set an early high point for the genre. Not exactly scary per se, it nevertheless has a charm a lot like a silly b-movie. Imperfect, but a blast to play. We are especially pleased to see the rather silly movie play out with charmingly bad acting.
Resident Evil 2
While the series has since gone on to abandon those awful tank controls and has improved its storytelling, this early benchwater mark is still impressive. Endlessly replayable, it is easy to get spooked out by the same licker jumping out of the same window every dang time. Some fans still swear that this is the best version.
Home Sweet Home
While this Famicom game was never released in America (until a fan-translated port decades later), it is an immersive and creepy role-playing game and one of the best on the series. Though the graphics are obviously not as intense, this game can still send chills up the spine. Make sure to check out the Japanese horror movie it is based on: now that is some scary stuff.
The original arcade classic was like a Jason movie come to life. You played a resurrected man wearing a hockey mask and killing everything in sight. However, you’re the good guy! Though by no means a masterpiece, it is gory in the best possible way and cheesy to the core. Think of this as the popcorn flick of old-school horror games.
This little-played Atari 5600 game had surprisingly strong graphics and the ability to pull you in with its simple, but effective, rescue mission plot. Though light on scares, its exploration-based game play was unique for the time and still holds up. We strongly prefer it to the “Friday the 13th” NES game that seemed inspired by it.
With its simple graphics and two-dimensional design, it would be easy to write off this stunning little indie gem. But game creator Jasper Bryne cut his teeth making Silent Hill remakes and his skill shows here. As the only living human on Earth, you try to stay alive as long as possible. Stay out of the dark as long as you can to increase your chances of success.
Have you played any of these games and can confirm they scared the pants off of you? Then please don’t hesitate to let us know. We love hearing from retro gamers like you and are ready to share our horror game war stories with you.