With this year being a literal horror show, why not take our minds off things and focus on things that go bump in the night, sleep in coffins, and seek brains! So we here at VGU present 8 of the scariest games we have played.
Allan Muir – Site Admin/Lo-Key Simp
- Doom 3
When Doom 3 came out over fifteen years ago, I was still an Al Jr. which meant that I was terrified of practically everything in this game. While not having played the previous games in the series I was caught up to speed thanks to G4’s docu-series “Icons”. The version of the game I got came with the episode so I didn’t have to look on Ask.com “what is Doom?” So to catch you guys up on Doom 3 who haven’t played the BFG Edition for good reason, Doom 3 is as if the first two games never happened so, therefore, it’s Doom 3: Doom 1.
There were numerous scary things in the game to an 11-year-old kid who had never forayed into survival horror games. For instance, the combination of panic, nervousness, and anxiousness when playing during the middle of the night when things pop off and the mass possession starts. And when I say mass possession I’m talking about more of a “ghoulification”. As those who have played the game can attest to when demonic skulls dart into the UAC personnel across the base turning them into either mindless zombies, possessed, and more twisted demonic creatures. While I wasn’t necessarily terrified of the Cacodemon or the Cyberdemon there certainly were others that gave me nightmares. For instance, the Mancubus still creeps me out more than most horror games.
Just look at this thing! It looks extremely Lovecraftian in the facial regions. It is still one of the sections I almost refuse to go near out of fear of the sounds this guy makes. The other part of Doom 3 that creeps me out big time is the cherubs. Which if you don’t know what they are I’ll just come out and say it: literal demon crossed toddlers. It begins with a female voice saying “they took my baby” which never ends well. As you proceed you hear the wailing cries of a newborn child. What follows I do not want to explain due to the aforementioned nightmares induced by the game. I will however share a picture.
Josh Miller – The Family Man
2. Friday the 13th: The Game
I grew up loving the Friday the 13th films. They were terrible in many respects: production value, acting, story, character believability, and more; but even with all of that, I adore them. Yes, that means Jason X too. So even with Friday the 13th: The Game having similar problems – glitchy, lack of content (thanks to the lawsuit…), repetitive gameplay, and more; I still love this game and think its worth playing at Halloween. Especially if you dig the films.
While many will immediately want to play as Jason, I found quite a bit of enjoyment out of playing as the campers. Theres a tension in the air knowing theres an (almost) unstoppable force roaming the campgrounds. Worsen this force is looking to butcher you in some truly gruesome ways. It’s hammered home even more so once you see him and start running only to struggle with your stamina and fear. And the music…THE MUSIC! Oh, it leads to great moments as you scramble for your lives and possibly screwing over friends to ensure your survival.
Of course, playing as Jason is great too. Stalking the counselors is fun and denying them safety is so satisfiable, especially if it leads to a dismemberment. If you’re a fan like I am, the first person Virtual Cabin mode is cool as well with tons of easter eggs to remind you why you love the series in the first place. Sadly, when you complete it, you’re teased for content that will never come. Oh well. Back to impaling counselors I guess.
Graydon Webb – The Contrarian American
If you were a young impressionable teen when P.T. was released on the PlayStation store, then you – like myself – will remember the tremendous impact it left on your young, malleable psyche. Having never in my life experienced a game from the mind of Hideo Kojima, and only ever experienced Guillermo Del Toro’s work in small amounts before, I was vastly unprepared for the hyper-realistic horror show that befell me throughout this demo.
What is now one of the most iconic horror titles of all time began as simply a playable teaser trailer for Silent Hills, a surprise announcement from Konami at E3 2014. Nobody knew what to expect when this game hit the marketplace, and as reaction videos and let’s plays popped up all over the internet, it quickly became a scream-inducing movement that would reverberate through the gamer-verse for years to come.
From the lifelike visuals that pushed the PS4 to its limits – despite releasing within the console’s inaugural year – and the atmospheric tension that arose from not only the eerie darkness of an endless hallway, but also the self-aware narrative that encouraged players to trigger their own panic attacks, P.T. was an absolute mindfuck for every unsuspecting newcomer. What’s scariest about this game is the mess that followed in its development, with the game getting cancelled and Kojima enduring a tumultuous break from the company he helped blossom. Sadly, if you no longer have P.T. installed on your PlayStation 4, then you’ll never again be blessed with the one-of-a-kind terror this experience had to offer.
Emmett Watkins Jr. – PlayStation All-Star
4. Resident Evil 4
Okay, okay, I know this one is an easy one. But as someone who had never really played a true survival horror game, finally getting to the end of this was a terrifying experience. I mean, sure, I had played Resident Evil 5 before then, but that was totally an action game through and threw, so I treated it as such when playing. But going back to its predecessor put me in a completely different headspace.
The opening moments of RE4 were instantly bone-chilling. It’s dreary setting and imposing enemies did a lot to accomplish that. But the initial onslaught of a seemingly never-ending stream of zombies is what really struck fear into my heart. See, in the years leading up to when I beat the game in 2018, I learned that the game had a reputation for striking fear in the hearts of those who played it, but I had no clue it would often be difficult to even play. Perhaps my knowledge of its dynamic difficulty scaling lead me to believe that it would be easier to play. But Nah, I got my shit pushed in dozens of times in that opening section. I died so many times there that I thought I was was doing something wrong. Like I thought I kept missing a door or that I simply was supposed to die, and just kept doing so in the wrong place for the next sequence to trigger.
But once I finally lasted long enough for the bell to ring and clear out the village, I learned a valuable lesson: preparation in this game is just as important as fighting. Sure, I’ve played plenty of games with limited inventory systems, but here it felt like every bullet and item could be the one to get me through the next combat encounter or to get me that desperately needed weapon upgrade. The lack of plentiful ammo, health, and throwables made for a game that kept me tense for the dozen or few dozen hours it took to beat. Walking into every room not sure if the last grenade I threw or the last clip I emptied was the one I would have saved my life in the present moment was agonizing, but also fun. And that’s without even taking into account the horrible monstrosities, overgrown insects, and body horror setpieces that I encountered throughout my playthrough.
Resident Evil 4 may not be the scariest game ever made, even if it makes plenty of those lists. Its wide arsenal of weapons and wrestling moves keeps it from being as debilitatingly fighting as something like Midsommar. But it keeps the player on that razor’s edge of being all-powerful and completely powerless throughout so effectively that it certainly is the most consistently tense game I’ve ever played. The only way I could have been more on edge when playing is if I had a deep emotional connection with the cast. Wait, I think I know a game that applies to…
Allan Muir – Lo-Key Simp
5. Gone Home
I’m sure I’ve brought this up on an episode of Player’s Club but when I played Gone Home for the first time, I was terrified. There’s something about being alone in a gigantic house that just creeps me out. While I enjoy walking-simulator games I did not have this particular experience with Life is Strange. From the moment I walked into the house I knew this was one of the games I’d inadvertently regret playing due to something that would leave some bad imprint upon me. I was right.
So, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of playing Gone Home, I’ll give you a rundown of the plot. You are playing as a 21-year old girl who has come home from an overseas trip and strangely there is no one home. Throughout the game, you are going throughout the house finding clues as to what has happened with your sister in the form of diary entries that are voiced over for brevity’s sake.
So there’s a section of the game where you are going through odd secret passages and I felt super uncomfortable. I was waiting for something to happen, be it a jumpscare or a loud bang… it never happened. The entire time I was playing Gone Home I was constantly on edge. It didn’t help that there is a heavy sound of rain as you are on the ground floor. While the game isn’t straight-up horror it has slight horror themes. There are spoilers involving the father that I will not get into so you can experience it yourself and go “this lad is a wimp”.
Graydon Webb – The Contrarian American
6. Dino Crisis
I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there who didn’t find Dino Crisis scary back in the day. Personally, I could never bring myself to play any of the PlayStation-era survival horror games, as I grew up watching my dad play them and honestly, they may be the reason I suffer from extreme anxiety today. However, back in high school I played the first Dino Crisis with some buddies of mine and I must say, this game holds up as one of the best spooky video game experiences on offer.
While the graphics may look atrocious by today’s standards – and let’s not even mention the awful camera angles and shooting mechanics – Dino Crisis “holds up” due to its reliance on, dare I say, realistic terror? Resident Evil is frightening, yes, but at the end of the day the whole story relies on a virus that mutates people into monstrous creatures. Dino Crisis takes a different route and simply pits humans against dinosaurs on the loose in a factory. It’s believable, and it’s downright terrifying.
Wandering through the facility, solving puzzles and trying to find a way out is made a lot harder with the addition of raptors and a T. rex patrolling the narrow corridors. Dino Crisis relied on a lot of puzzle-solving, which made time management even more anxiety-inducing, considering the constant reminder of dinosaurs, hot on your trail. If you’ve never taken a chance on Dino Crisis, I’m happy to say it’s still worth checking out. In a world that’s nearly devoid of dinosaur games, what better time than 2020 – the year of the dinos’ resurgence – to give this classic a try?
Josh Miller – The Family Man
7. Corpse Party
Not only am I a sucker for the Friday the 13th films, but I too have an infatuation with Japanese horror. I appreciate the focus on atmosphere over jump scares and they find a way to unsettle me with the smallest of things when it comes to body imagery. Corpse Party is no different as it carries a similar tone with what people recognize in Japanese horror but developed through RPG Maker. So the task to pull off something horrifying requires more effort than something first-person as opposed to its top-down third-person approach.
For those unfamiliar with the series (and there are quite a few entries), Corpse Party begins with a group of high school friends who are telling ghost stories in their abandoned school. Unfortunately, they find themselves pulled into another realm. This realm drops them into a nightmare version of their high school. It’s dilapidated, no sign of life outside of the windows, no means of escape, and entities preventing means of progress or flat out trying to kill them.
The game features multiple endings based on the outcome of the students with unlockable side-chapters to expand on the paths of the students in the school. Don’t let the look of the game fool you. Corpse Party is dark. It’s tense, horrifying, and will fill you with dread. It’s been a while since I’ve played the game, but my mind occasionally wanders back to it, especially around this time of year. Perhaps I should pull my Vita out and give it another go because it’s well worth the experience.
Emmett Watkins Jr. – PlayStation All-Star
8. The Last of Us: Part II
Much like Resident Evil 4, this one may seem like another obvious choice. But I don’t bring up The Last of Us: Part II for any reason related to its horror theming. Like, of course, the sound of a clicker in the dark is bone-chilling. Sure, the horrors humanity is capable of being put on full display in this sequel. But we’ve seen zombie-like enemies and the depravity of man in games before, even in this game’s predecessor. But few of those games had characters that we’ve been invested in for nearly a decade.
The legacy of The Last of Us has completely changed the landscape of the gaming industry, and our collective love of characters like Joel and Ellie have lead it to be considered a modern classic. Upon the announcement of a sequel, we were all terrified that the game wouldn’t live up to the original, and for some, it didn’t. For me, it did, but it did so while maintaining a massive pit in my stomach the entire time. Because all of these characters I loved all those years ago were held hostage by a story that, for the first time in the series, seemed to not give a single shit about what I wanted for these characters.
I don’t want to spoil the story beats completely for those who have yet to play the game, but from early on the game takes no prisoners and makes it clear that no character is safe from the worst of fates. Once that tone is set, I was scared shitless for every single character in the game, old and new. Every new face I got the chance to warm up to was painted in a tragic light as I never knew if my time with them would have been cut short. But for returning characters like Ellie, I never knew if the game would go as far as to kill them off because they made it clear that even something that emotionally devastating was on the table.
Playing The Last of Us: Part II was a unique type of emotional torture because these characters I held so dear were not only being presented in new and more sinister ways, but this already brutal world seemed even more likely to take them out. It was so much to deal with, and the many twists and turns of the narrative made that turmoil often even more unbearable. Ultimately, I loved the ride it put me on, but at that moment, as a classic internet video once proclaimed, that shit hurted.
With that you now know of the games that scare us. So, what scares you?
For the previous VG-List on what Graydon and I want to see in MLB ’21 The Show click here