By Rick Warren / Gfn2112
With today being both Friday the 13th and the highly anticipated release of The Evil Within 2, I felt it would be appropriate to look at horror games for this week’s Top 5. As always, these are my own opinions and don't represent the views of the other writers on this website. There are plenty of great horror games (and plenty of them are not on this list), but below you’ll find my absolute favorites.
Here we go!
5.) Little Nightmares
While this is certainly an interesting game to put on this list, I'm confident in its position here. Little Nightmares is a game that I wanted to give an honorable mention to last week in My Top 5 Indie Games, but realized that it wasn't really an indie game... and that it fit in this category far better. With a similar gameplay style to Inside, this game could have ended up as an uninspired rip-off. Instead, it’s a memorable experience due to its grotesque characters, amazing soundtrack and dark story.
Running from the monsters in Little Nightmares was as scary as it would be in any large third/first person horror game, and the gameplay of Little Nightmares made the creatures even more shocking. The art style was both beautiful and horrifying. The gradual decline of the playable character, Six, was truly scary. To this day it's the only platformer I've played that is a horror game, and because of that this special game gets a spot on this list.
Next up, the game that precedes today's big release...
4.) The Evil Within
With the original getting its sequel today, I've been thinking quite a bit about the previous Evil Within. I played this game for the first time just a few months ago, having seen multiple playthroughs prior and holding off until I saw it on sale. Despite knowing what was coming, I still loved it. Yes, there were times when it felt too long and there were a few poorly designed sections... but overall the game was great.
The story may not have focused on Sebastian's past as much as I would have liked, but it was still convoluted and confusing in a good way. The upgrade system and the lockers were wonderfully handled. Sebastian's crossbow was a fun and versatile signature weapon. The shooting, stealth and puzzle mechanics felt right, as the game controlled well. Enemy designs were appropriately disturbing, and the game was packed with great boss encounters that never stopped feeling tense. The Evil Within had its flaws, but it's still one of the strongest survival horror games I've ever played and I'm legitimately excited to play the sequel.
In my #3 spot sits a re-imagining of one of the most legendary series in horror...
3.) Resident Evil 7
While I'm sure it's a bit controversial to have this in my top 5 and as my favorite Resident Evil game, it undeniably is. Most of the game was genuinely scary, and the first-person perspective helped a lot with that. Yes, it was a large step away from what had come before, but the same could be said for the heavily-praised Resident Evil 4. Several months later, I can only see the change as a positive. It may have come as a surprise at first, but honestly, the choice to switch to first person made the game feel more like old school Resident Evil than anything they've done in the past ten years.
I was trapped on a small piece of land, tasked with solving puzzles and fighting dark, zombie-like creatures. I found weapons here and there, and hidden kits to upgrade them. I entered rooms to save and manage my inventory, with peaceful music playing in the background. Occasionally, I ran into an intense boss fight against a member of the twisted Baker family. The final few hours of the game became more action-based and were filled with answers. The ending was cheesy. The collectible system was great, and rewarded me for exploration. The game felt good to play and had moments that inspired genuine fear. In every way other than the position of the camera, Resident Evil 7 felt like a modern take on the Resident Evil games I played as a kid. With classic RE mechanics combined with the advantages of modern gaming, it earns its spot on this list.
For my #2 spot, I went with the game that has the greatest story in this genre...
2.) Silent Hill 2
When P.T. was revealed to be Silent Hills, I may have lost my mind a bit. Okay, I totally lost my mind. It was such a great surprise, not only because Silent Hill was coming back, but also because my favorite person in the gaming industry was working on the game. Not only that, but he was collaborating with one of the greatest directors in the movie industry. I was prepared for the best horror video game ever made, as were many others. We all know the heartbreaking conclusion to that story, though.
Konami may have been able to kill the project, but they can't remove the great games that released in the past. One of those games was Silent Hill 2, and it still stands as one of my favorite horror games of all time. This is entirely due to the brilliant storyline and all the intricacies that were weaved into it. Every creature and character was symbolic, carrying a deeper meaning with them that enhanced James' story. The game boasted plenty of different endings from the brilliant and jokey dog ending to the true, meaningful conclusions of the narrative. While the series went on a consistent decline after Silent Hill 3 (ending with the most heartbreaking cancellation in video game history), Silent Hill 2 will always be a classic. If you're a fan of story in video games, go back and play this game.
Finally, in the top spot sits a game that I chose with ease...
1.) Dead Space
The only trouble I had when it was time to come up with my favorite horror games was deciding which Dead Space would take the #1 slot. The Dead Space series is one of my favorites ever, going a step beyond just this list. I'll never forget my first encounter with a necromorph, or my many failed attempts to kill the regenerator. What makes Dead Space so special is that it broke the constraints of horror games. As one of the first horror titles of the PS3/360 generation, Dead Space took advantage of the new technology.
As opposed to momentary scares and brief moments of terror, Dead Space gave players a constant feeling of dread. This was both due to necromorphs being able to attack from every direction, and the tremendous sound design. I could hear members of the Ishimura screaming off in the distance, and I could hear the necromorphs in the vents around me. Further, the game took itself seriously as opposed to the ridiculous dialogue and story present in many horror games (I even cared about the collectibles, because they offered more information on the game's intriguing setting). For me, this game is iconic. Isaacs’s suit is the most memorable set of armor aside from Master Chief's and Samus Aran's. The Plasma Cutter is my favorite weapon of all time, and necromorphs are my favorite non-boss video game enemy. It was such a tremendous step forward for horror. Dead Space should absolutely be in the discussion with the Silent Hill and Resident Evil series when it comes to the best horror games ever made, and it's still my personal favorite.
That's all, everyone! What's your favorite horror game? Leave it in the comments below, and while you're there check out the honorable mentions.
Check back next Friday for a Top 5 on Creative Games!