A hybrid platform-shooter, Cauldron sees the player take control of a witch, who’s on the hunt for six ingredients – once chucked in her cooking pot, these will form a spell which she can use to defeat her mortal enemy, the Pumpking. Horror games are a dime a dozen. Widely regarded as the creepy parent of the Resident Evil series, and the modern survival horror genre as we know it, Sweet Home was a pioneering adaptation of the Japanese movie of the same name, as overseen by its director, Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Unfortunately, the tension’s undercut by the ease with which the possessed monsters die, and also the appearance of the demons themselves: depicted as a gas-like miasma, all semblance of fear is lost once you realize that Ash looks as though he’s running away from a deadly cloud of flatulence. I still vaguely remember playing Splatterhouse in a coastal arcade and letting out a little yelp of fear when the hooded boss wielding two chainsaws leaped onto the screen. [A.A. Dowd], Thirteen years before Amnesia: The Dark Descent made total disempowerment gaming’s horror-mode du jour, Japan’s Human Entertainment made the case for the terror of helplessness with Clock Tower. And Silent Hill itself seems mapped according to a psychological logic, as though its city planners used a Rorschach test as a blueprint. In F.E.A.R. In the former, you rushed around in a dream world, punching rats and snakes and collecting the bones which formed Freddy Krueger’s corpse. [A.A. Dowd], Minimalism feeds into horror. Although hamstrung to a certain extent by the Atari 2600’s simple hardware, there’s something oddly disturbing about Haunted House. Check out the first episode of Horror Game History, where we'll be covering games released for the Atari, the NES, DOS, and more! This ends up being the scariest thing of all: The knowledge that you can’t just fire blindly at whatever might pop out of all those ominous, hissing vents, instead being forced to determine which appendage is the most deadly. They’re also fun as hell—a realm where the violence of other games is newly purposeful, and game designers are free to exercise their most out-there tendencies. Truly the stuff of nightmares. Sweet Home was one of the earliest examples of a game that uses its mechanics to unnerve the player; weapons and supplies are in short supply, and once characters die, they’re gone for good. Go to Hell programmer John George Jones returned two years later with a game even weirder and grotesque than its predecessor. When a Delta Force ally bellows “I live for this shit” from the chopper, he speaks for the meathead within us all. It marks a final burst of creative ambition before the series was shackled to two consecutive Wii systems. You rarely have enough ammo—and even when you do, the deliberately awkward controls make combat difficult. But with Soma, Frictional aimed for terror of a different sort, the kind that leaves your mind racing and your stomach queasy. [A.A. Dowd], “This town’s finished,” some bloodthirsty villager croaks after you slice him down early in Bloodborne, and, buddy, he’s not kidding. Like Haunted House, it’s essentially a top-down maze game, except you control Ash, who has to keep the demons from entering the infamous cabin in the woods. In a game of overlapping viewpoints and narratives, this is the best trick: the horror of seeing yourself through unfriendly eyes. Even the release of a lackluster remake earlier this year hasn’t deadened the surreal allure of the game. The result is a list of games as varied in the ways they try to terrify players as there are ways to be terrified. [Astrid Budgor], Until Dawn’s co-writer, Larry Fessenden, has a long and messy relationship with horror cinema, and it shows in the work, which is as close as gaming’s ever come to a playable B-movie slasher flick. Instead, you’ll skulk through the darkness, uncovering the linkages between Lovecraftian madness and some very human evil, and never once feeling powerful or safe. Hidetaka Miyazaki famously reinvented the role-playing game—and recalibrated the universe’s expectations for video game difficulty—with Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, but Bloodborne’s shift to full-on horror clarified and refined his vision. Every perfectly positioned shadow and dimly lit door, every Dutch-angled stairway ascent and unnerving foreground—it’s all lovingly tuned to create the most disorienting and nightmarish vision possible. It may look like a basic game by current standards, but just look at how far video games traveled between 1982’s Haunted House and the end of the decade: with its reliance on puzzle solving and suspense rather than combat, Sweet Home pointed the way ahead for a new generation of survival horror. But, with the day of pumpkins, trick-or-treaters, and apple bobbing almost upon us, this got us wondering: at what point did video games become scary? 15 Slasher Horror Games to Play in October; ... PC. The only thing saving her are her wits and scrambling feet—and even those can fail in her most panicked moments. Palace Pictures distributed Sam Raimi’s breakout horror classic The Evil Dead in the UK, and it was thanks to them that we ended up with Graham Humphrey’s stunning poster illustration, with its appropriately lurid colors and approving quote from Stephen King. Find games tagged 80s and Horror like Babysitter Bloodbath, Bonbon, The Horror Of Salazar House, Dead Pixels II: Straight To Video, Night House on itch.io, the indie game … [Chris Breault], You can hear it walking. Fun fact: Soft & Cuddly‘s inlay art was created by fantasy illustrator Tim White, and also appeared on the cover of a 1985 H.P. [A.A. Dowd], In 2005, Resident Evil 4 arrived as a revolutionary and welcome change to the series’ over-appropriated brand of horror. Heroine Fiona is accompanied by Hewie, a White Shepherd whose mood and obedience is up to the player to manage; without Hewie by her side, Fiona is virtually defenseless against a cavalcade of villains who all want her body for their own purposes. Even a simple jump-scare, often eye-rolling in movies, gains a strange new power when you’re the one inching forward through the basement. The jump-scares come early and regularly, but their effect is to set the player on edge as they slowly trawl through the deep-space mining rig Ishimura. Doom may have largely birthed the modern shooter, but no one should forget the influence its nightmarish tunnel vision had on horror gaming, too—from the immersive shocks of fellow PC milestone Half-Life to the sadistic tricks of perspective pulled by our top choice below. All that giggly wisecracking disappears pretty quickly when you’ve got 10 rounds left in your gun and you’re staring down a couple dozen zombies, one of which is vomiting poison on the floor, and a real-life friend is screaming at you for help over a headset. British developer and publisher CRL really pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in gaming through the latter part of the ’80s, with the gory imagery in the likes of Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein, Dracula, and the subject of this entry, Wolfman, rewarded 15 or 18 certificates by the BBFC. Instead, the makers of early horror games had to come up with all kinds of creative ways to scare or unnerve players – and inevitably, some of these techniques worked better than others. [Clayton Purdom], Rereleased this year in an illustrated version, Michael Gentry’s Anchorhead is an interactive fiction game that takes a perspective rarely explored in the near-century of post-H.P. Post a Comment. If taking magical pictures of excruciatingly slow ghosts while solving obtuse puzzles sounds a little “not for everyone,” well, these games are classics because they refused to tone it down. Protected by the venerable designer from commissioners Capcom, Mikami forced Suda, a serial delegator who has produced more games than he has ever directed, to write and design Killer7 alone. Cyberqueen builds itself on the assumption that losing your identity at the hands of an omnipotent machine domme is terrifying. Instead, it simply refined the hoard-and-evade formula, sending players creeping through the fixed, exaggerated camera angles of a new pre-rendered, postapocalyptic environment, including a police station hilariously designed around baroque puzzles. Club’s trip through the history of horror games found endless tensions to unpack: playability versus difficulty, spooky-fun versus truly terrifying, historical importance versus modern appeal. And the “monster,” such as she is, grinning and eye-gouged, is an agent of truly unfair, violent randomness, an unavoidable specter floating through the game’s code. [Gareth Damian Martin], As humans, we reserve our deepest, darkest fears not for monsters, not for murderers, but for sickness: The creeping corruption that lurks within. More a straight action game than an exercise in creeping terror, Splatterhouse did still manage to throw in some moments to make unwary players jump. In Echo you charge on through cycles of darkness and blinding light, trying to twist the game’s increasingly ornate rules to your benefit. It is a co-op horror game that revolves around a group of teenagers that are trying to uncover a horrible secret that is lurking beneath their small town. Duskers takes minimalism to an extreme, limiting both your knowledge and your inputs. [William Hughes], You cannot stop the dead in Siren, an otherworldly, bitterly hard PlayStation 2 game from original Silent Hill director Keiichirō Toyama. This is the game that spawned a long-running horror franchise, leading to multiple sequels and spin-offs, two movies, comic-book series, and more. You recall images—morose teens, malevolent spirits, raving monkeys—but they all only mount to a climactic suicide, and a gutting credits sequence. 8 Call Of Cthulhu: Shadow Of The Comet. Suddenly, scary video games didn't have to be awkward point-and-click adventures or text-based multiple choice stories. THE BEST PC HORROR GAMES: F.E.A.R. Like most tie-ins in the late ’80s and ’90s, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th took the form of side-scrolling platform games. Where this GameCube cult classic truly distinguished itself, though, was in its ingenious and literally patented “Sanity Effects”: Spotting a monster takes a quantifiable toll on your mental health, and as that particular bar drops, the game begins seriously altering your perception—with aural and visual hallucinations, with apparent glitches in the level design, with simulated technical hiccups and storytelling fake-outs. Wild Streets. We'll be … Tasks include closing windows to keep the demons out and killing possessed friends with an assortment of guns and sharp implements. You wake up with your clothes torn, your hands covered in blood, and angry townsfolk gathered around the corpse of a woman outside. [Matt Gerardi], No horror game ever created has lodged itself so immediately and enduringly in the playing public’s mind as P.T. The Point Man gets ambushed by clever AI, jump-scared by hallucinations, and startled by invisible foes; one cannot believe he is ever A.F.R.A.I.D. is a closed circuit of pure evil, glancing feverishly backward as it inches ever closer to the corner. Gentry’s prose is lush, intimate, but precise in an uncommon way. Eventually the games would develop a broader mythos, but the economical and brutally effective first installment is the best—a shrine to the jump-scare navigated via a spectral, faulty surveillance system. It knows you’re here, somewhere, and it wants you dead. How good are you at typing precise inputs while running from unseen terrors? Okay, so let’s get to the obvious picks first: Silent Hill is, of course, on the list. [William Hughes], The sequel is perhaps a better game, cleaner and more, erm, fleshed-out, but the original Dead Space was the scarier creation, with its silent protagonist and endless stretches of rust-colored corridors. Characters lie to you, healing items drain your other stats, and someone, somewhere, is always on the verge of being the Sand Plague’s next victim. [Clayton Purdom], Disadvantage is the key (unicorn-, sun-, or otherwise-shaped) to survival horror. No, really. These are some of my favorite retro arcade games from the 1980's. However, even though the genre may have been on the back burner for so long, it doesn't mean that it didn't hold the throne back in the day. Its horror is bluntly political, associative: a prose poem of structural oppression and industrial dehumanization with a deep underlying vein of historical atrocity. Apparently, Cauldron was originally planned as a tie-in game based on John Carpenter’s Halloween movie, but designer Steve Brown, unhappy with his work in progress, went off in an entirely different direction instead. avg. The upcoming remake will update the graphics and campy voice work, but here’s hoping it keeps intact the core fear factor: a very reasonable concern that you won’t survive the horror lurking behind every closed door. The result was the first wave of truly scary, gory, and atmospheric horror video games, a wave that included fan favorite franchises like Silent Hill, Alone In the Dark, and the Resident Evil. Alien: Isolation captures, with resounding precision, one of the most resonant fears in modern pop culture: being chased by the Xenomorph from Alien, with nothing but your wits and a flamethrower running on empty. 2016 was a Great Year for Horror Game Fans 2016 saw a number of amazing games released across multiple platforms, and horror fans were treated to quite a few gems that were best played after dark. Amnesia: The Dark Descent gets that, on a gritty, fleshy, fundamental level. DEVOUR. [Julie Muncy], “L-l-look at you, hacker…a pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors…” That opening purr, dripping with seductive, hateful omniscience, is the sound of one of gaming’s most terrifying villains coming into her own at last. More petrifying than its predecessor and all but one of the sequels to come after it, Silent Hill 2 recognizes its titular environment as a psychic space as much as a physical one. But it remains a subversive triumph, its giallo-inspired mystery and threatening atmosphere impossibly wrenching so much dread out of a humble 16-bit console. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CkpcZTa7MA, Read More: A Brief History of Retro Horror Gaming, Read More: New Alien Video Game in Development at Fox, Related Article: Silent Hill, BioShock, and the Art of Scary Games, Read More: Revisiting Splatterhouse at 30, Super Mario 3D World Never Promised a Revolution, But Still Stands Apart 8 Years Later, Dead Pixels Series 2 Review: E4 Gaming Comedy Has Levelled Up, Red Dead Redemption: How Undead Nightmare Found the Fun In Horror Gaming, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, and the Art of Making Scary Games. Even when you’re not running from literally invisible monsters—as in the game’s most celebrated sequence, a bit of sewer-set terror that would earn it a place on this list all by itself—Amnesia is the kind of game where the mere act of looking at the things pursuing you is harmful to your character’s rapidly dwindling mental health. The rest of the game is equally seedy, following a depraved FBI investigation into the decrepit buildings of a city whose inhabitants seem to be going mad. 845 views made by Pauls. All this madness falls on Fiona; the game’s “panic mode” sends her into a blind, uncontrollable frenzy if she becomes terrified. Teens are mysteriously waking up in strange places having no recollection of how they got there. Your only interface is a command line, with a unique system of commands that you have to tap in by hand in order to get anything done. Day Z. Day Z is a multiplayer video horror game so that you can play this game with your friends. Five seconds later, he is dead. You play as an engineer trapped on a derelict spaceship, the crew of which has been either transformed into scurrying, bloodthirsty “Necromorphs,” enlisted in an apocalyptic cult that worships them, or murdered. IMSCARED is a low-fi first-person horror game that describes itself describes itself as a "metahorror" experience. Whether Eternal Darkness really qualifies as “psychological horror” is debatable—you still spend most of your time slashing zombies. Few games of any genre are as gutting as The Last Of Us. For most horror games, the quit button is the ultimate escape from threats, but Imscared turns your computer itself into the house that’s being haunted, leaving you with nowhere to run or hide from White Face’s uncanny stare. There’s a great tradition in horror cinema of the low-budget, unexpected success immediately generating a raft of sequels, spin-offs, and rip-offs, whether it’s the post-Halloween wave of holiday-themed slasher flicks or the immediately annualized Saw franchise. If Resident Evil’s first incarnation had to fade away, at least it did so in a zombie-incinerating blaze of glory. In other horror games you may play a painter, a photojournalist, a sensitive person in psychological distress. They’re a home for experimentation, where conventions are upended and taboos are shattered. WandaVision: What Does Agnes Really Want? Club staffers and contributors to submit ranked ballots and tallied up the votes. Memorable for its stunning box art (as were many Atari 2600 games), Haunted House was also one of the earliest – if not the earliest – attempts at interactive survival horror. The result is equal parts The Disintegration Loops and Videodrome, Doom and Gone Home, an altgame classic and a ghost story for the ages. The sequel, Cauldron II: The Pumpkin Strikes Back, was even better, and the witch on the cover looked like Bruce Forsyth in a green wig. But as the difficulty ramps up, the “AI director” that determines when and how the hordes of zombies attack you becomes devilishly effective. This article was written by a Rediscover the '80s staff writer. The characters under your control – all named after the ones in the film – will sometimes refuse to follow orders if they get too scared. Suda readily admits he could never make anything like it again, and sometimes it’s hard to imagine anyone ever will. This setting offers the player a palpable sense of creeping dread, but it is the rhythmical, panicked quality of the game’s tactical stealth that delivers the fear. A top-down RPG, Sweet Home sees five characters hunting for an escape route from a mansion with a grim history – and just to add to the fun, the building’s teetering on the brink of collapse. Add in a legitimately brilliant mechanic that simulates tense moments by forcing you to hold the controller incredibly still, and you’ve got a recipe for the cheap, effective kind of cinematic mayhem that horror fans crave. $4.99. Adventure game, Gothic horror, Psychological horror: Daniel Klenk: Microsoft … Stalking back and forth across the halls of the space station, its razor-sharp tail idly flicking. And so the tank controls of Resident Evil and sluggish combat of Silent Hill become, instead, a meticulously honed canter accompanied only by a button that lets you “look.” The abstruse puzzles of yore are turned into shattered, darkly comic jokes, like the “X” button’s single usage here. After the astonishing viral success of Five Nights At Freddy’s, creator Scott Hawthorne cranked out three sequels in less than a year, all essentially reiterating the same titanium-strength formula: Chuck E. Cheese-style animatronics stalking the restaurant halls at night, attempting to murder the night security guard. The game has been highly anticipated, and so far, it looks like it will not let us down. Resident Evil 2 didn’t “fix” any of the original’s bugs, which were really features in disguise. Splatterhouse 3, which got name-checked at the congressional hearings on video-game violence, brought a three-dimensional range of motion to the franchise’s primitive Evil Dead combat. The game keeps kicking you out, forcing restarts, as the tape quality degrades and the software comes untethered, revealing the house’s true nature. Like those letters, Killer7 refuses to cohere or collapse, but instead just rattles along, a neon ghost train, garish and extravagant. These games include browser games for both your computer and mobile devices, as well as apps for your Android and iOS phones and tablets. Growing up in the eighties, I spent countless hours playing these classic video games.I remember playing the Pong Console, TRS-80 Color Computer, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Colecovision, Intellivision, Atari 7800, Sega Master and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).I hope you enjoy playing … Ms-Dos. Its creator warns that the game … But then the program starts pushing aggressively at the boundaries of the fourth wall, tossing up fake crash bugs, filling a folder on your desktop with eerie little messages from its spectral antagonist, and doing everything in its power to present itself, not simply as a game, but as a sort of otherworldly virus infecting your system. Indie developer Puppet Combo has the market cornered when it comes to vintage-esque, horror movie-inspired games, with titles like Babysitter Bloodbath offering PS 1-style graphics with storylines that feel like something straight out of an ‘80s slasher flick. There are quiet survival games, where you have to conserve whatever resources you have, but Left 4 Dead 2 is a loud survival game, where you just have to keep fighting, even as your resources dwindle to nothing, and where a team of cooperating players only raises the stakes. Periodic breaks in the hectic, run-and-gun carnage create pockets of anxiety, as you round blind corners or sprint into darkness, waiting to be ambushed by the next horde; sometimes you hear the threat before you see it, an offscreen snort or growl portending your, well, doom. Good luck wringing that kind of suspense out of Double Dragon. Expedition Zero. The mood is oppressive and unrelenting, as hiding only ever brings you a temporary peace. With obtuse puzzles, a mansion that’s a nightmare just to get around, and a main character who makes Resident Evil’s barely mobile heroes look like parkour masters, there’s a great deal of Clock Tower that has aged miserably. Horrorshow’s writing is unusually rich, pulsing with dread like a blood-engorged insect, and the audio quality is superlative, finding the beauty in data errors and digital shrieks. Evasion at any cost is balanced by restriction, as any action you perform is inherited by the doppelgängers that pursue you. Although better known for their cheerier output in the ’70s and ’80s, such as Pac-Man, Galaga, and Mappy, Namco took a trip to the dark side for Splatterhouse, a beat-em-up inspired by a legion of horror movies. Circus Games. These days, we fully expect modern video games to have us cowering behind our sofas, with present-day computers and consoles able to render all sorts of things you need for a properly scary story: rain, blood, that sort of thing. Deus Ex was one of a few turn-of-the-century PC games to fuse first-person shooting with RPG stats and dialogue options, becoming an “action” game that was much about careful simulation as it was about quickfire shooting. [Julie Muncy], In a spatial sense, horror is often a descent. It’s more like an interactive Saturday morning cartoon than a horror game, but its approachable sprite design masked an astonishingly high difficulty level, with bouts often ending in screams and blood-curdling howls of anguish. Little touches, like the ominously moving swing on the veranda and the flickering embers in the fireplace, add atmosphere, as does the eerie absence of sound. This was the game that spurred its author Will Wright to become embroiled in all those Sim games. The Blackout Club is a game that is meant to be experienced with other people. Its iconography—Lisa standing stock-still and stilt-legged in the foyer, a skinless goblin baby mewling in a sink—is as profoundly, riotously wrong as any in cinema, and its single stretch of hallway, looped forever in a gradual downward spiral, etches itself in the player’s mind like a trauma. When they spot you, their sight overrides your own with a red flash, and you see your own still figure approaching within a lurching frame. [William Hughes], Horror and action fight for the wheel in every chapter of Capcom’s gloriously overstuffed pulp adventure. Taking place beneath a full moon, and with locations later extending to gloomy, bat-filled caves and haunted dungeons, Cauldron certainly had a decent atmosphere, and for the time, the graphics are really colorful and detailed. 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