Note: This article was updated in February of 2019.
Survival horror titles continue to be popular over the years as it brings out a truly atmospheric terror to their video games. Instead of gunning down the monsters or zombies which flood your screen, developers put players at a greater disadvantage. These are the games that put players on the edge of their seat as they count their bullets and sneak around the tight corridors in hopes that the enemy is not nearby. In this list, we’re going to check out some truly terrifying horror video games that we have played over the years. We’re going to list down our personal picks for horror games that may send a chill down your spine but much like our other featured lists, we’ll continue to monitor this article and update it with other titles well worth looking into. Likewise, this list is not ranked in any particular order but are simply a collection of great horror titles from over the years.
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#11 Resident Evil 2
Everyone knows about Resident Evil as the franchise as it first started out as a standard video game series and evolved into a series of cinematic films. Over the years since the franchise first got its start, we’ve seen the development team over at Capcom bring out remakes and visual upgrades to the original Resident Evil title. Since then, there have been plenty of fans asking Capcom to give players a remake of its sequel, Resident Evil 2. It took Capcom a few years to announce it but the developers finally alerted players that a Resident Evil 2 remake is in the works where it finally came out in January of this year.
Much like how the original Resident Evil title was remade, Resident Evil 2 provided gamers with a visual overhaul along with some slight adjustments to the mechanics. Luckily, the narrative was fully intact and it once again put players into the role of both Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. The duo ends up in Raccoon City shortly after the T-Virus has turned everyone into mindless zombies. With the city at a loss and no hope for rescue, players will have to carefully watch their surroundings and conserve their ammo in order to make it out alive. Since this is a remake of an earlier Resident Evil title, those that are hoping for the over-the-top action combat found in some of the more recent Resident Evil titles will be out of luck. Instead, this is very much an old school survival horror title where resources are few and far between.
#10 Eternal Darkness
Eternal Darkness is one game that came a bit as a surprise. Survival horror games generally do not release exclusively for Nintendo but back in 2002 Eternal Darkness was one game that made the cut. While Eternal Darkness wasn’t a massive commercial success, it’s praised by survival horror fans not only for its interesting storyline but also the psychological effects tossed towards players during gameplay. Players take on the role of Alexandra Rovias as she investigates her grandfather’s murder, roaming through his mansion and uncovering dark secrets along the way.
Development studio Silicon Knights added in an element into the game that they called sanity effects which were a variety of false indications that mimicked real world scenarios such as a false blue screen of death, corrupt noises, skewed camera angles, fake volume indicators, among other events. All of these sanity effects were created to mess with the player’s mind. Silicon Knights have since disbanded and Nintendo has shown no signs of reviving this video game series, so it is unlikely that we’ll ever see another title.
#9 Silent Hill
The Silent Hill franchise is an iconic series for the survival horror genre. Owned under Konami, we’ve seen a number of Silent Hill video game titles released over the years, though for the most part, everyone seems to agree that the first four main installments which were done by Team Silent remain the better titles out of the bunch. Back in 2012, Konami released an HD collection for the Silent Hill franchise, though oddly enough it only contained the second and third installments of the series. While Silent Hill 2 can be enjoyed on its own, the third installment does pick up some of the narratives from the first Silent Hill title.
Likewise, just as the later installments are not looked upon as the most fond gaming experience, the HD collection was filled with bugs and issues that might have shown Konami was looking to make a quick buck. Regardless, the series continues to be highly talked about for its atmospheric terror that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. It’s worth pointing out that really the only two installments that connect and would need to be played in order is Silent Hill and Silent Hill 3. However, if you can’t deal with the lower graphics of the PlayStation and wish for a slight jump up visually then we suggest looking into Silent Hill 2 as it’s proven to be not only a beloved installment from the Silent Hill fan base but one of the most iconic survival horror titles of all time.
#8 Dead Space
Dead Space takes place in the distant future where players control Isaac Clarke, an engineer that specifically on spacecrafts. When a ship sends out a distress signal, Isaac Clarke, and a team head out in hopes to fix the ship while bringing the crew back up and running their mining operations. However, various difficulties and mishaps cause Isaac with his crew to be left with a very slim chance of survival. Players are up against a slew of Necromorphs, vile creatures that reanimate dead corpses. To make gameplay a bit more tense and horrifying, developers eliminate the heads-up display, rendering most of the vital signs and other necessary info within Isaac’s suit.
This is a IP that went on to receive a total of three main installments, not to mention a marketing campaign featuring elders reacting to the gameplay that really helped circulate information about the series. With each installment came another continuation of this survival horror title that left players fighting off creatures in the lonesome of space. Generally, all three installments received positive reviews from critics and after the third installment released in 2013, we’ve been waiting to see another title release from the IP universe. Unfortunately, since the third installment released, EA had killed off the development studio, Visceral and it doesn’t look like we are going to receive a new installment or reboot anytime soon.
Outlast is a first-person survival psychological horror title by development team Red Barrels. The game follows a freelance investigative journalist named Miles Upshur who is searching out a remote psychiatric hospital. However, what Miles finds is not only disturbing but dangerous leaving him to fight for his life. Being more of a survival horror title, players are encouraged to use stealth to their advantage while maneuvering over various obstacles. Likewise, a big portion of the game is based on the use of a night vision camera to see what is around the area. However, limited batteries are required to run the camera forcing players to seek out replacements as they progress through the narrative campaign.
Outlast 2, by development team Red Barrels, follows similar game mechanics of the first installment of the survival-horror franchise. Players this time around will take on the role of Blake Langermann, an investigative journalist alongside his wife as they uncover clues to a murder of a pregnant woman. In their journey, Blake and his wife become separated after their helicopter malfunctions leading to a hard impact crash. Much like the last installment, gamers are not suited with the ability to combat the enemies that lurk about. Instead, our protagonist will mostly have to hide and run away from any nearby danger. Both installments in this series features a heavy use of being stealthy and wandering around cautiously. As you explore the world becomes more hellish and dark but its one series that keeps you pressing on to see just how it all ends.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is another title that was a massive success when it first released in 2010. The game first released as an independent download by developers Frictional Games. Players awake in a dark castle with no memory other than their name and that something is hunting them down. As players lurk throughout the castle to regain their memory they’ll be subjected to the main gameplay element, puzzle solving. However, within the castle are grotesque enemies that not only will kill the player character but also cause their sanity level to decrease. This sanity level acts as a health indicator. If not managed properly, the player will start to witness unsettling events, eventually leading to their death. The game focuses on fleeing and taking cover as you hide from the enemy rather than fighting back. Heart rates are going to skyrocket as you attempt to escape from danger and hoping the enemy hasn’t discovered where you’re hiding away.