It’s that time of year again, and what better way to celebrate it than to play a scary game? And not just any old game, why not the scariest game of all time? To make it on this list senseless gore and jump scares aren’t enough to make the cut. The games on this list not only stand the test of time, they did something to influence the survival horror genre. This list is based on my personal opinions and experiences, and I suspect a lot of people won’t agree with me. So grab some of that Halloween candy and sit back, as I count down the top scariest games of all time.
Nameless Game Nanashi No Game
When I was compiling the games for this list it never crossed my mind that a Nintendo DS game would ever be on it, much less ranked this high. Released only in Japan by Square Enix, The Nameless Game is a bit of an anomaly. Sure the story is a complete copy of The Ring, where instead of a haunted VHS tape, there’s a haunted video game that everyone seems to be downloading. Things start to go south when you end up downloading the game by accident. The gameplay is part first person adventure, part 2D throw back which pays homage to games from an earlier era. You actually hold the DS on its side during the first person sequences, and then you hold the DS regularly when you play the cursed game. Though the real scares lie in the fantastic sound design. Sounds of tortured souls mixed with warped music tracks really sell the atmosphere. One of the scariest parts for me personally is with the first enemy you encounter. There isn’t any formal introduction or tutorial, it just slowly materializes in the distance and before you know it, it’s right in front of you. If you were ever a fan of those scary stories involving creepy glitches in old games, definitely check this game out. With a little searching online, you can find an English fan translation of it.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
It would be surprised. Simply put I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular from an Xbox 360 launch title. But man, this game has some original scares. As crime scene investigator Ethan Thomas, it’s your job to solve murder mysteries and find out the reason behind the recent psychosis epidemic. Good thing you have a psychic gift that allows you to see into the killer’s mind. The story sets itself up for greatness, but unfortunately falls flat, with a really shitty ending. Oh, and don’t play the sequel, it sucks. But despite all of that, it’s the visceral combat and novel scares that sets this game apart. Combat is brutal, and ammo is so sparse there isn’t even a reload button in the game. No seriously, you can only check how many bullets you have left in your magazine, which is kind of a cool mechanic. And you know that whole creepy mannequin motif that’s been showing up in a lot of games? You know where you turn around and look back to find they’re a bit closer? It’s the same trick Slender basically based its entire game around. That all started with this game. If you’re in the mood for a psychological thriller in the same vein as Silence of Lambs or Se7en, definitely check this game out.
Clock Tower The First Fear
Now here’s a game that was scaring the crap out of gamers back in 1995, which alone is a testament to how original it was for its time. You assume the role of Jennifer Simpson, an orphan that’s been adopted along with her friends, by the wealthy Barrow’s family. When you arrive at the mansion, you soon uncover something far more hideous at work. I remember being scared just by the concept of the game: a point and click adventure where you run and hide from an invincible serial killer. The introduction of scissor man — a guy who uses a giant pair of garden shears to mutilate his victims — was something that hadn’t been done before. As Jennifer, you have to solve the mystery behind your adoption as well as find a way to escape. You’ll quickly find the scariest parts of Clock Tower involve finding the aftermath of scissor man’s victims. Don’t let the age of this game fool you. I highly recommend emulating it as it still packs some scares even by today’s standards. For a 2D adventure horror game this one’s a masterpiece. And while there were some Playstation sequels, I still think this one is the best in the series.
Haunting Ground (Demento)
Believe it or not, Capcom wasn’t always a shitty company that kept craping out the same fighting game re-releases and canceling fan favorites. In fact, there was a time when they were releasing truly great and surprisingly innovative survival horror games. Haunting Ground, also known as Demento outside the United States, is an example of such a time. Waking up after a near fatal car crash, Fiona finds herself trapped in a castle full of horrors. Like Clock Tower, you’ll find yourself running and hiding from danger rather than fighting. The closer the psychopaths get to you, the more scared Fiona becomes until she eventually goes crazy. The controls go haywire, and you’ll barely be able to lead her to safety. That is if you even can. Luckily you also have the help of a four legged companion who can maul the attackers on command. But if there’s one character that steals the show, it’s Daniella the homunculus who’s made to track you down. This game is not for the faint of heart. There are implications of rape, cannibalism and a ton of other nasty stuff. But I think what Haunting Ground does best is remind us what scares us the most isn’t always what we can see. One only needs to see the game over screen to know what I’m talking about.
Eternal Darkness:Sanity’s Requiem
If serial killers don’t do it for you, maybe some of the eldritch horrors with a touch of Lovecraftian flair might. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is one of those games where talking about it doesn’t do it any justice, you have to experience it for yourself. At its core the story is about Alex Roivas, a young woman seeking the truth behind her grandfather’s bizarre and brutal murder. While investigating she stumbles upon the Tome of Eternal Darkness, a book that outlines the stories of those who had previously come in contact with it. The story spans over two thousand years, and you play as over twelve different characters. All of whom encountered the book in some way. Now whenever people talk about this game, they always mention the sanity effects. In addition to monitoring your character’s health and magic, you also have to take care of their sanity. When it drops low the game starts to play some freaky tricks on you. At first small stuff will start to happen like blood dripping down the ceiling. Then when you least expect it, your TV will turn off– This can’t be happening…Unfortunately people seem to limit their discussion to the sanity effects and forget what a brilliant game Eternal Darkness is.
There you have a few video games that will scare you and lets you jump out of your couch especially when you play the game alone in the night. For more video game experience in different genre view my sources.