We humans often have a perverse concept of what is fun. One odd thing we have loved for centuries is the horror genre, from Horace Walpole’s 18th-century introduction to the genre, up to Stephen King’s decades of horror dominance over pop culture.
As gamers though, horror games are what really take our fancy. Here Adam Savage presents the top 10 horror games ever – though, for fear of being overly biased, we’ve had to leave out Resident Evil, the perennial number one in horror gaming.
10. Vanishing of Ethan Carter
In response to a letter from a young boy called Ethan Carter, you travel to his home in Red Creek Valley, only to piece together slowly the dark secrets of what has taken place there, and discover Ethan is not what he seems.
Very subtle and well-written, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter does not hold your hand, although you wish someone would while you play.
9. The Suffering
In The Suffering, you play prisoner and death row convict Torque who is trying to escape from a high-security prison overrun by monsters. To do so you make moral choices that affect the storyline and blast your way through countless bloody encounters.
With a very dark plot and atmosphere The suffering could have been a bit of a killjoy, but thanks to the mindless shooting and moral dilemmas, it kept us thoroughly entertained.
Special agent Ethan Thomas, that’s you, is on the hunt for a serial killer known as the Matchmaker, but gets caught up in a cult in a menacing town rife with crime.
The unpredictable low-lives are on the prowl and in the savage world of Condemned, it’s all about brutal first-person melee combat, from crowbars to lead pipes.
With brilliant lighting effects and a dark and dingy setting, Condemned sucks you right in, and you’re going to have one hell of a time trying to get out alive.
Obscure is teen horror movie meets video game, Resident Evil meets high school, with all five of the main characters walking stereotypes. You’ve got the jock, the nerd, the hacker, the intellectual and the eye candy.
Set in a grungy 90s American high school, Obscure’s selling point is the fact it allows for co-op play, and is one of those games that at times is so bad it’s good.
If your guilty pleasure was teen horror movies, Obscure got the recipe just right. Plus the soundtrack featured Sum41, who were all the rage with teens at the time.
6. Fatal Frame
In Fatal Frame, Miku is on the quest to find her brother in the mysterious Himuro mansion, which turns out is haunted by apparitions of its previous innocent victims.
Miku’s weapon in the horrifying mansion is the Spirit camera, used to dispel ghosts, and to do that you must keep the ghost in your viewer as long as possible, which can be truly terrifying and disturbing, but that’s what makes it a great horror game.
It’s basically Pokemon Snap except the creatures your catching will give you nightmares.
5. Layers of Fear
Layers of Fear is a psychological horror game about an unnamed 19th century artist ‘s inability to complete his work as he descends into madness in his own home. In Layers of Fear, you play the artist and both of your sanities will be tested as the walls of reality shift before your very eyes, leaving you questioning what is real and what is not.
Truly genius, Layers of Fear is a war on the senses and an unforgettable gaming experience.
4. Dead Space
Dead Space puts you in the shoes of silent engineer Isaac Clarke, who is sent on a mission to the USG Ishimura. The ship, however, has become a hostile environment full of horribly mutated creatures called Necromorphs intent on ripping you to shreds.
The Necromorphs are far from your typical mindless zombies, and their AI is frighteningly clever, making the game incredibly challenging.
With no pause button and all the game menus taking the form of holograms, Dead Space does not let you catch your breath and is a masterclass in horror.
Awakening with a bout of amnesia, your character Daniel is lost and confused, and you must piece together his past as you delve deeper and deeper into the devilish castle Brennenburg.
A tale of terror expertly told, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of the best horror games on the market and Daniel is not all that he seems.
In Outlast, journalist Miles Upshur finds himself investigating a tip about a psychiatric hospital called Mount Massive.
The source of the sinister goings-on inside the asylum must be found but it will take every ounce of your courage to keep playing.
1. Silent Hill 2
The game focuses on James Sunderland’s return to Silent Hill after apparently receiving a letter from his wife who passed away three years earlier. At first it may seem like a very ordinary horror game, but James is no ordinary protagonist and Silent Hill is no ordinary place.
A world-class psychological horror game, Silent Hill 2 was unafraid to tackle taboo topics and was a landmark game in the genre. James though, proper basket case.
So what do you think of our top 10? What have we missed? Let us know!