GameCentral readers discuss their favourite horror-themed video games, from P.T. demo to Alien Isolation.
Since it’s Halloween this week the topic for this weekend’s Inbox asked you to name your favourite ever horror game and what you’re looking forward to most from the next generation.
There were a lot of old favourites mentioned, especially various Resident Evil and Silent Hill entries, but also a lot of optimism for the upcoming Resident Evil Village, The Medium, and more.
The original and the best
It may be cliché but for me Resident Evil is the best horror series. Yes, I was hoping for Silent Hill at the Sony showcase but was I excited when the Resident Evil Village trailer popped up? Hell yes!
For me, the best thing about the series is how it has reinvented itself and stayed relevant. Remaking the classic Resident Evil 2 and then giving the same treatment to 3 has given a whole new generation of gamers a chance to immerse themselves in the Resi Evil world.
The decision to make Resident Evil 7 first person was met with criticism by some but I enjoyed the different feel and it brought it firmly back to horror. 5 and 6 felt more like run around exploration games with the occasional zombie, when it remembered it was primarily a horror game.
7 was such a quality addition to the story and had me jumping at nothing as I explored the Baker mansion with trepidation, then jumping more when something actually happened.
I’m really looking forward to Village and I have my fingers crossed I won’t have to wait long as Capcom have a habit of releasing the Resident Evil games in the first quarter of the year. Here’s hoping I can be petrified before Easter!
Fear the future
I’d say I was very optimistic about the future of survival horror, or at least more optimistic than I have been for several years. The Medium and Scorn both look good, Resident Evil Village is on its way, Shinji Mikami’s Ghostwire: Tokyo is next year, and hopefully these Silent Hill rumours are true. I think now that indie games have got to a stage where their graphics are really good we can guarantee a steady stream of them in the future.
Probably it’ll be like cinema where mainstream horror movies are complete trash and all the good, imaginative horror is made by independents. The only difference is that horror movies can be one of the cheapest kind of films to make but horror games are generally quite expensive because of all the weird visuals.
Indies seem to be copying though and for me the most effective horror game is still Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which certainly didn’t need a big budget to be scary.
Probably not a popular choice but the game that scared me the most was Forbidden Siren. It’s kind of mix of Silent Hill and Project Zero, I think by some of the same people, and while it’s very scrappy, and not very focused, I found it scary and very challenging.
It was one of the last games in that golden age of survival horror that Resident Evil started and maybe that’s why I remember it so fondly too. There have been a lot of good horror games since, Dead Space 2 in particular, but I do miss the weird experimentation of those early days.
It’s also a shame that most horror games today are by indie developers and yet Japan doesn’t seem to really do indie in the way that we understand it. That’s a real shame as I’ve always found Japanese horror by far the most effective.
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It’s not very scary but my favourite horror game of all time is Resident Evil 4.
I have fond memories of it coming out on the GameCube, there weren’t many games like it available for the console and it felt like a really big deal at the time.
The whole game is just an explosion of campy, almost Hammer Horror-esque fun. Its little Metal Gear Solid-style idiosyncrasies are memorable and it’s just a blast to play from start to finish, there are so many good set pieces.
The Mercenaries mode was also a great idea and really extended the lifespan of the game, which was obviously more of a thing back at that time, when there weren’t so many new releases about.
I like the way Capcom reinvented the series with Resident Evil 7 but I hope they have a go at making another action-orientated third person entry at some point.
GC: They’re rumoured to be working on a remake of Resident Evil 4.
Bit of a tricky one this, as my favourite horror game is not without a lot of issues that stop it from being an all-timer. I don’t play a lot of horror games in general because I’m a complete coward, even though horror movies don’t bother me in the slightest. I think it’s a combination of the interactive nature of games, as opposed to the more passive nature of films, combined with the lack of being able to see behind me in first person, therefore never really knowing how close the danger is, that puts me off them.
But if I had to pick one as my favourite, I’d pick Alien Isolation, even though it has many, many problems. I love the Alien franchise and the look and feel of Isolation is perfect. It’s probably the best video game adaptation of a film property. The artificial intelligence of the xenomorph itself is brilliant, with lots of little tricks to give the impression of it learning your tactics as you play. The end result of this is moment-to-moment bits of incredible tension, holding your breath as you cower in a locker, palms sweating, praying that you don’t get noticed. Those bits are incredible and if that was the entire game, it would be hailed as a modern classic.
But it is needlessly padded. You could remove around eight hours from the game and it would be better for it. There are at least two points I can think of where the game could have been ended satisfactorily and yet it still went on for hours afterwards. And there’s really no reason for it either, apart from to make it longer and seem like more value for money, I guess? But it does the opposite, and turns the end of the game into a needless slog.
So I guess I’m saying that my favourite horror game is the first 10 hours of Alien Isolation? If you like Alien, play through this until it starts to wane, then stop. You won’t be missing out on anything after that.
Eiichihoba (PSN ID)
My favourite horror game of all time is Dead Space 2. I had just moved into a flat by myself and would always turn that on for a few hours before bed. The sheer sense of dread I felt was almost enough to make me not want to play it but as soon as you just die and get it over with, the horror dissipates and you can just get on with the game.
Really enjoyed the story of the on-rails shooter for Dead Space too but it wasn’t as scary. Looking forward to Resi 8 but will be playing that with a mate to help lessen the fright.
Woman of my dreams
P.T. without doubt is the scariest experience I’ve had and it has far too many moments to list. I’d also like to point out how unpleasant it was when Lance McDonald hacked the game and found a secret scene not used in the game and posted it on YouTube. Just Lisa relaxing in the bath… minus her head. It’s a pitch perfect piece of terror and arguably Kojima’s greatest creation.
I’m going to mention Silent Hill 2 and 3 too, as they’re both pretty unnerving. I’m probably in agreement with GC that my favourite is the original, but it hasn’t aged well so it can look slightly tame by today’s standards. 2 is a far better game than 3, both in terms of its story and its pacing. The overall menace that unfolds as we watch James descend into his personal nightmare is really quite exceptionally well executed. It’s certainly one of the best game stories told and stands up even today.
I really loved that section on the lake. A determined James sat in a boat as you guide him through the fog towards a pale distant light. It’s a masterful scene of minimalism with almost complete silence giving you time to process your understanding of his motives. What has guided him there and slowly realising where he is almost willingly heading.
3 did however, have arguably the worst scares and the standout one is the room with the mirror. It still gives me the shivers thinking about when it freezes the reflection of Heather who’s completely covered in blood and the game decides to lock you in. Played through it at 2am in a darkened room only illuminated by the unfolding terror on the CRT and then being unable to sleep once the PlayStation 2 was turned off.
Resident Evil 7 in VR is also fantastic but the second half really does spoil the excruciatingly tense first half and eventually becomes a bit nonsensical by the time the final boss comes along. P.T. though, is the worst by far. Man that woman still haunts my dreams!
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