This week has certainly been a scary one here at Prima, as we’ve been counting down the top 50 scariest video games of all time. A lot of strange entities have wound up on our list, from the animatronic animals of Five Nights At Freddy’s to the devastating moon in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask to the freakish Nemesis from Resident Evil 3. (You can relive all of our previous picks in the top 50 via the links below.)
Alas, we’ve finally come to the top ten scariest video games of all time. Be warned – these are likely to throttle you a bit, so you may want to leave the lights on. That is, unless you’re prepared for them. Ooooooooo…
The legacy of the Slender Man is frightening in itself, revolving around a faceless, long-armed creep who stalks and kidnaps younger children. That didn’t stop Parsec Productions from producing an effective first-person survival horror game based around the legend. What makes Slender such a terrific experience is the inability to fight back, as you only have a flashlight to look around with. Once Slender catches you, you’ve had it – and it’s enough to leave you with nightmares for days.
Out of this year’s scary releases – including Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within, which both made this list – Outlast takes the scary cake. This downloadable release puts you smack dab in a dark asylum in Lake County, where unspeakable horrors dwell in the halls. Like Slender, you have no ability to fight back, but you’re also required to hide from certain terrors in order to stay alive. That’s easier said than done, especially when enemies notice even the smallest things to catch onto your trail. Be prepared for a ton of scares with this one – like around every corner. Outlast will (bleep) you up.
8. Condemned: Criminal Origins
Monolith has dabbled a bit with horror-based first-person action games, but Condemned: Criminal Origins easily takes the case. Utilizing a number of brutal tactics to take down enemies, the game puts you in the shoes of no-nonsense crime scene investigation agent Ethan Thomas, as he attempts to find the serial killer that framed him for murder. Featuring numerous frightening situations (watch out for those mannequins) and plenty of brutality, Condemned – and its sequel – should find a welcome space in your Halloween gaming schedule.
Speaking of Monolith, one of its greatest accomplishments is easily F.E.A.R., a first-person shooter with a huge helping of supernatural elements. In the game, you control the “point man,” in charge of an elite team sent to acquire control of a technology corporation. However, in the midst of your assault, you come across a vile little girl named Alma, whose visions and actions is the stuff of nightmares. The game as a whole is filled with plenty of shock moments, most of them coming from Alma herself. She’s easily one of the deadliest enemies you’ll find in a game – and a primary reason to check out both F.E.A.R. and its follow-up, Project Origin.
6. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
You want a ghost story? Tecmo will give you a ghost story. The developers have been making splendid Fatal Frame games for years, but Crimson Butterfly is easily the winner. The game has you visiting spooky locales, using a Camera Obscura prototype in order to effectively capture the images of ghosts. However, be warned – not all of them are what you’d call “photographic friendly.” With horrifying ghostly designs and creepy ambience throughout, Crimson Butterfly is one worth checking out. Now, if Tecmo could just give its latest Fatal Frame game for Wii U a U.S. release…
5. Manhunt 2
The original Manhunt was quite an experiment in fear, as you fought in a “kill or be killed” scenario against a number of devastating foes, all in the name of immoral survival. Manhunt 2, however, ups the ante quite a bit with an even bigger storyline, and even more vicious deaths than ever before. You’ll dispatch of residents of the Dixmor Asylum in a number of bloody ways – some of which even go borderline beyond the Mature rating stamped on the game. Those who aren’t in for such a squeamish experience may want to take a pass, but fans of blood and gore will certainly enjoy it, if they can stomach it.
4. Resident Evil 4
Out of all the Resident Evil experiences, part four is easily one of the greatest – and downright scariest. There are just so many things to take into account with it. First up, the weird chainsaw freak that will stop at nothing to cut into you. Second, the bosses, including a large monstrous fish and a hulking giant, stopping at nothing to kill you. Plus, let’s not forget the gibberish-speaking locals that can’t be reasoned with until you finish them off. Shinji Mikami and company packed every bit of creepy they could into this game, and it shows. That’s what makes it such a favorite.
3. Silent Hill 2
There could easily be an argument about what the best Silent Hill game is, but part two is one that resonates closest with us. The game follows James Sunderland into the isolated town, in the hopes of finding his wife Mary. What follows is all sorts of unrelenting horror, including a run-in with the vile Pyramid Head. With that perfect blend of atmosphere and gameplay, Silent Hill 2 is easily one of the best horror experiences on the PlayStation – and even sadder if you choose to go with the “Water” ending. You’ve been warned.
2. Resident Evil
The original Resident Evil left its mark on the PlayStation as a horror masterpiece – and deservedly so. In the game, your S.T.A.R.S. squadron finds themselves trapped in a creepy mansion, filled with all sorts of nasty creatures, from mutated dogs to enlarged spiders. It’s your job to find ammunition and get out in one piece – if you can. With a twisted storyline that’s gone on into sequels, Resident Evil is a classic worth rediscovering. If you missed out before, though, don’t worry – a re-release is in the works for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, due in 2015 — and without the tank controls!
1. Dead Space
In the end, despite all the nasty creatures, crazy horrors and ghoulish twists we’ve come across on this list, nothing can top Visceral Games’ amazing debut of the Dead Space franchise. The game follows Isaac Clarke and company as they explore an isolated ship, only to come across an angry bunch of Xenomorphs that want nothing more than to rip them apart. Dead Space wins not only because of its perfectly scary ambience, but also because of the ways your character can die, like having your head ripped off by a creepy crawly, then it attaches itself to your body and takes it over. Oh, and that final boss in the video above? Yeah, it’s moments like this — and possibly being ripped to shreds by gears — that make Dead Space the most haunting experience out there. And watch out for that ending…