10 Scariest Console Games
Horror films have a storied history and a huge fanbase, so it only makes sense that the genre would also have some pretty big successes in the world of video games. Though more action-packed games get all the attention, there’s something to be said of a game that enjoys a slow pace, and some terrifying frights.
While some of the horror games to make the cut definitely employ cliché hidden scares, others use a more subtle, psychological edge to unnerve players. Either way, these are the games worthy of being the 10 Scariest Console Games Ever.
Doom 3 doesn’t hold up as well as it used to, but when it arrived on the scene a few years ago, it was one of the most heart-pounding shooters on the market. The sci-fi shooter has just been re-released on current gen consoles, and is enjoying a bit of a renaissance. The creepy corridors, the haunting howls coming from just around that next corner, and the cringe-inducing hellspawn still create a tense atmosphere that’s hard to beat. Thankfully, you’ve got a healthy litany of weaponry at your disposal to make all the bad men go away permanently.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Eternal Darkness is one of those games you either remember fondly for messing with your brain, or you can’t stand to talk about it because of all the horrifying memories you don’t want coming back to haunt you. Few games used as many tricks and surprises to fool players into thinking they were going crazy, and included a handy sanity meter to track just how far down the rabbit hole they had fallen. Whether it was the creepy children screaming, the bleeding walls, or your TV seemingly turning on and off at random, Eternal Darkness pushed the limits of interactive horror in a way that hasn’t been replicated since.
Resident Evil 2
Just about any entry from the RE series would qualify in a larger list, but for all intents and purposes, Resident Evil 2 is the cream of the survival horror crop. Traversing a zombie-infested city as either Leon or Claire, the duo were confronted by all manner of monsters as players tried to make their escape from Raccoon City. Some of the scares from RE2 have become standard talking points when discussing the evolution of the horror genre, and the sense of desperation coupled with a lack of ammunition still makes Resident Evil 2 a formidable entry.
The Wii had a few horror gems, but the only true standout title was Calling. In the vein of titles like Fatal Frame, Calling put players in creepy locations, with ghosts out to get you from the start. While the gameplay itself wasn’t anything to write home about, Calling made good use of the Wii remote, and included eerie sound effects being pumped through the controller’s tiny speaker. Even more chilling were the interactive phone calls you received from the undead. Nothing quite pushes the limits of sanity like talking to an undead character in a video game through a controller.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Condemned put players up close and personal with brutality in way that hadn’t been seen yet in the horror genre. In the role of a crime scene investigator, players spent most of the game tracking down a serial killer through some of the city’s more devastated and deranged locales. The enemies you encountered on the way were often grotesque, and the hand-to-hand aspect of the combat put players face-to-face with some of the most horrible people and creatures ever conceived. Sure, the crime scenes were often creepy as well, and the influence of genre films like Se7en was apparent, but realizing just how far you’d go to accomplish your task, that was the real horror.
F.E.A.R. is a unique game that takes traditional horror tropes, and places them smack dab in the middle of a modern military shooter. Unlike Doom III, the terrors in F.E.A.R. that lurk in the shadows stay there. The game’s greatest feat is the way it psychologically attacks players, with little regard for the sanity of those holding the controller. Later entries would try to capture the same zeitgeist, but only the first F.E.A.R. really manages to unhinge those playing.
Siren: Blood Curse
A re-imagining of the classic PlayStation franchise, Siren: Blood Curse was an episodic title that really took making players squeamish seriously. Players took the roles of several different protagonists throughout the game, and each had to overcome the challenges put forth by the zombified townsfolk created by a horrible cult decades prior. The scares were abundant, and Siren wasted little time in inducing nightmares. Munitions and supplies were limited, and trying to sneak past the manifestations occupying hospitals and small villages only added to the tension. Even talking about this game has brought on the chills.
Survival horror for a new generation, Dead Space is the ultimate space survival horror game. As engineer Isaac Clarke, players are tasked with discovering what happened on an abandoned mining ship. There it’s learned a virus has turned all of the inhabitants into disgusting monsters with a thirst for blood. Armed with only the tools of his trade, Isaac must make the best of a bad situation. There are so many thrills and creepy parts in the game, it’s hard to narrow down Dead Space to one defining moment. That said, if there’s a dark hallway, odds are something is going to jump out at you.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
How would you like to be trapped inside a haunted old mansion with nothing but a camera to help fend off the evil spirits inside? Yeah, we didn’t think you would. Fatal Frame II is just chock full of sheer, abject terror. Steeped in very Japanese horror style, the game is eerie as hell, with tons of disturbing imagery and enemies. Fatal Frame II forces you to confront the terrors in front of you by waiting until the last possible second to snap a spirit’s photograph. Doing so will damage the ghosts, but at the same time, it will also diminish your will power. There’s only so many times you’ll be willing to stand idly by while demons come hurtling at you at top speed.
Silent Hill 2
Two words: Pyramid Head. Literally nothing else needs to be said about this fright fest. None of the other games on the list have a giant monster with a giant sword lurking about, waiting to cleave you in twain. Silent Hill 2 is also full of some really messed up psychological horror, but seriously, it all comes down to Pyramid Head. He’s just too terrifying to not make this the number one Scariest Console Game Ever.