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.
#10 Resident Evil 2
Everyone knows about Resident Evil 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 go through with it but we finally got that Resident Evil 2 remake.
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 find out what’s going on. 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.
#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 to be prime examples of great psychological survival horror video games. 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. Rather than relying on jump scares, you can expect Silent Hill to feature more of an overwhelming sense of dread of the unknown.
#8 Dead Space
Dead Space takes place in the distant future where players control Isaac Clarke, an engineer that specifically works on spacecrafts. When a ship sends out a distress signal, Isaac Clarke, and a team head out in hopes to fix the ship for the crew. However, its clear that the ship is infected, forcing Isaac to battle against the odds of survival. Players are up against a slew of Necromorphs, vile creatures that reanimates dead corpses. To make gameplay a bit more tense and horrifying, the developers eliminated 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. 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 looks like Dead Space will remain a dormant IP.
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, 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.
#5 Until Dawn
Until Dawn is a PlayStation 4 exclusive and a horror adventure title. Developed by Supermassive Games, Until Dawn follows a group of eight characters who decide to hold a holiday retreat at a cabin within a fictional mountain resort in western Canada. However, their holiday retreat quickly turns sour as they learn a psycho killer is on the loose forcing our group of eight to survive until sunrise. If you enjoy choice-based video games then this title will be a must play. Gamers will be able to control the characters at various points in the narrative while making critical choices along the way. Depending on the choices made will alter the narrative and even result in potential characters not making it through the night.
This game definitely gives you a reason to pop the disc back into the PlayStation 4 and restart it just to see how different choices and actions plays out. There are even points in the game where despite your efforts, the choice you made will still backfire but we’ll avoid spoiling anything if you haven’t checked this game out yet. At any rate, Until Dawn is easily one of the must-have PlayStation 4 titles.
Frictional Games are fantastic developers who know how to create terrifying video games as they previously released Penumbra and Amnesia. One of their most recent releases falls right in line with the past two IP launches. Soma is a survival horror title that puts players into an underwater remote research facility. Within the game, players take on the role of Simon Jarrett who must uncover the truth behind the facility that’s gone rogue with machines taking on more human characteristics. If you’re familiar Amnesia, Soma takes on the similar gameplay style in that players will be keen to take a stealthy approach when dealing with the enemy. It’s best to avoid danger when possible while searching for clues and solving puzzles.
#3 Resident Evil 7
Capcom went back to the original tone of the Resident Evil franchise with less action-oriented moments and a more survival-horror atmosphere with Resident Evil 7. The game is set to take place four years after the events of Resident Evil 6, in a fictional city of Dulvey, Louisiana. Players will be taking on the role of Ethan, a man who is searching for his missing wife, when his investigation leads him to a derelict plantation mansion and the home of an oddity family.
It seems that Ethan will have to escape from the cannibalistic Baker family while also searching for clues of his missing wife. To give players an extra little scare, Capcom added PlayStation VR functionality to the game. Again, the title takes a step back into the franchise origins where players need to count their ammunition and carefully explore the surroundings.
The F.E.A.R. series is an FPS with survival horror elements. This video game follows around the First Encounter Assault Recon or otherwise known as F.E.A.R. Used to fight against paranormal entities, the group finds themselves against their toughest target, Alma Wade. Alma Wade was a young psychic girl that was imprisoned and experimented on. Now broken from her chains, Alma releases her rage with a potential to rip the fabric of reality. Each game from the three main installments involve players hunting down and stopping Alma and for the most part, each of the three main installments were positively received. Unfortunately, there isn’t a fourth installment for players to enjoy despite the third installment leaving it open to continue the story. Perhaps this franchise could see a reboot sometime in the future or a new installment that would allow new players to jump into the action horror title, but for now we have three great titles to enjoy.
Siren was bound to be a success as a fantastic survival horror video game title. The reason being is that Siren was created by Keiichiro Toyama, the director for the video game Silent Hill. Siren is based around a Japanese village known as Hanuda which chose to become separate from the outside world. During one of the villages ritual ceremony’s to bring their god back into the world, an earthquake stops them and curses the village into a different world. Now a total of ten survivors must prevent the cult from bringing in a rash god and bring the world back to its normal state.
This, of course, is easier said than done. Those that didn’t survive the ceremony have turned into new subordinates known only as shibito. These shibito’s patrol the area looking for the last remaining humans to sacrifice. Originally released for the PlayStation 2 back in 2003, players can still pick up the title through Sony’s PSN. There are a total of three Siren games available with the latest, a 2008 release for the PlayStation 3 called Siren: Blood Curse. It’s worth noting that the third installment is actually a re-imagining of the first game, but so far there is no word on if the team, Project Siren, will come back for a new title. Instead, they have since converted into Team Gravity which has brought out the Gravity Rush series.
Bonus Video Games
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.
Devotion from development studio Red Candle Games was a big hit when it released. This indie title featured a troubled screenwriter who falls into a world of madness that deals with Taiwanese culture and folklore. There was likely a good chance this game would have become a bigger hit but Devotion was pulled from digital marketplaces due to one controversial image. You may recall the slew of memes that came out that depicted Xi Jinping as Winnie the Pooh. These images were so offensive to Xi Jinping that he had them banned in China but when it was discovered a small image in the game that had a reference to the meme, the development studio was immediately attacked online. As a result, the studio pulled the game later that month. Since then, the game has yet to make its way back online and it’s a real shame as those that had a copy thoroughly enjoyed it from the reports that came out before the removal.