Editorial: Five Scary Games

Horror and scares in video games are very subjective to the person playing them. In this editorial, I want to talk about what I consider to be the five scariest games ever made.

In fifth place we have the original Resident Evil on the PlayStation.  Who can forget the first time the zombie dog jumps though the window? I was a lot younger when I played this. While time has taken some of the tension and frights away, Resident Evil is still a great example of how to implement horror into a game.

In fourth place is Silent Hill for the PlayStation, a game that played on a different setting then Resident Evil. Silent Hill built up a world of tension and heavy atmosphere with the ever-present fog in the game world. Silent Hill swapped the quick jump-out moments of Resident Evil. Instead it was the game’s ability to build tension and fear that made it such a masterpiece of horror.

Two characters who know the meaning of fear.

In third place is Project Zero for the PlayStation 2. Anyone who has seen Japanese horror films such as The Ring or The Grudge will feel right at home with Project Zero as the game borrows heavily from both films. Giving one nothing more then a broken, old camera to fight legions of ghosts, the story is set in an old house where the player is desperately searching for a missing brother.

In second place: Persona 4 for the PlayStation 2. The setting in this game is very dark and somewhat disturbing: worlds inside a television where one’s inner self can be found. The game once again brings in fog, and one knows that when the fog comes something is going to happen. Considering the game includes Satan as a character, it is clear that something very disturbing and evil is going down.

In first place is Dead Space for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. This is a masterpiece of horror gaming. Never as a gamer have I felt such fear and fright as I did while playing this game.

Scary horrific, aliens: Dead Space has them in droves.
Scary, horrific aliens: Dead Space has them in droves.

Drawing heavily from Event Horizon, the setting is a huge mining ship where something has gone very wrong. With little chance of escape the player must do what he can to survive the nightmares which infest the ship.

Readers, what are your favourite horror moments?


  1. Nothing.
    I am too terrified.
    I am a scared little girl when it comes to video games.
    I used to play Mario Sunshine after Zelda because the Shadow Temple was too scary.

  2. For me the scare factor in games is tension building…anything that utilizes devices which let the player know something bad is nearby or something is about to happen..

    The radio in Silent Hill is a great example of this…whenever i heard the white noise i would immediately get an adrenaline rush…even the ‘danger ahead’ music in the Lara Croft games made me sit up! :P

    I think it’s because when something jumps out at you, you just deal with it but knowing u are moving closer and closer to something you can’t see yet gets you more on edge…at least for me! lol

  3. Persona 4 O_____________________________________o

    I’d put this:

    5. FEAR
    4. Dead Space
    3. Noby Noby Boy
    2. Silent Hill
    1. Project Zero / Fatal Frame

    Seriously, Fatal Frame is a far superior name for PZ, why it’s called Project Zero (in the UK) goes beyond me. As for noby noby, that’s on an entirley another level.

  4. Noby Noby Boy? You sir are insane, I knew I was going to get a lot of feedback on Persona 4.

  5. The biggest fright I’ve ever had during a game was in Bioshock. There’s this sorta out-of-the-way medical-type room with an audio diary on a table at the far wall. I picked up the diary and listened to it while still facing that wall. When the diary ended, I turned around and there was a Splicer standing literally RIGHT THERE, doing nothing at all but breathing heavily. He wasn’t even attacking. I screamed and lined up a headshot faster than I ever have in my life.

    Then again, I haven’t played much in the way of survival-horror, so this might not seem all that scary to some. All I know is… I don’t scream, but I totally did.

  6. BioShock WAS pretty scary at times, although it’s hardly a horror title.

    Lee, I understand that some of the subject material in Persona 4 is pretty mature stuff, but that in no way makes it scary. I mean, this is subjective stuff so I can’t really argue, but I don’t understand how anyone could be legitimately “frightened” by P4.

    Dead Space, on the other hand, is terrifying on every level. It’s amazing in the way that it’s terrifying both when enemies are on-screen and when they aren’t. Oftentimes the scare factor of horror films/games dies as soon as the big, ugly monster actually shows its face. In Dead Space, even the combat is a truly terrifying, intense experience that always just makes you want to RUN THE FUCK AWAY, but you often can’t. Extremely impressive stuff.

  7. To this day, The Fatal Frame series is the scariest game I ever played. It was to only one that made me jump u and scream “FUUUUUCCK!” Stupid longed arm ghost showed it self right in front of me…

  8. Persona 4? Are you serious? It’s like a technicolour Burton acid trip. Imo the RE series isn’t scary either.

    My list would be

    1. Silent Hill 2
    2. Silent Hill
    3. Silent Hill 3
    4. Dead Space
    5. Some parts of Bioshock
    (Keep in mind I haven’t played System Shock, Fatal Frame or Forbidden Siren)

  9. How much of Persona 4 have you played Silconnoob? It is very hard to say why I think it is at number two without spoiling things.

    Resident Evil was scary the first time played when you nothing about the game. Knowing about the dogs of course reduces the tension, but I bet most people would have jumped the first time they played it.

    Fatal Frame is a must play…..

  10. I’m at the end of the first dungeon, IMO SMT3 was a far darker game.

    RE never scared me and I had few preconceptions when playing it as a 13 year old kid. The RE series has always been over reliant on monster closet shocks, which have never really been that scary to me. For a game to really scare me it has to have a really unsettleing and disturbing atmosphere, the RE series has always been more about B-grade cheese then genuinely disturbing atmosphere.

  11. Glad we agree on Fatal Frame. Resident Evil is a different kind of horror as you state. I find that type of horror to be quiet scary. It might be that I am a wimp or something.

  12. I think I might have watched too many horror vids as a child, and inadvertantly immunised myself to jump scares. I can’t really get scared unless everythings done really well like in some of the better Silent Hill games.

    Persona 4 is not a scary game by any metric though.

  13. [*rec} as a video game would be absolutely crazy to do, especially if it was all in that claustrophobic blurry nightvision style. Fatal Frame / PZ have that concept sort of but it’s a largely underated way of creating a horror game.

    That’s why FEAR and FF/PZ are on my list, FPS horror is the best way to deliver the genre, Dead Space and SH have a real clever way of doing that in 3rd person, but tit’s not the best way to experience horror, no matter how good those two games are.

    As with Persona 4. I have not played it yet as you know with the situation with P3, but IF the subject is driven enough, say, to the scale of the subconscious digital world of The Matrix, which by all means isn’t a horror film BUT it’s concept is radical and frightening when it’s explored in discussion/debate what have you, then maybe your decision to include P4 in the list may be a more intelligent one.

    Our notions of horror especially in the gaming industry – not so within the film industry as explained above – is to experience it at first hand like Dead Space and the like. Future games like Heavy Rain and the vapourware-ish title Alan Wake will most definately challenge that notion, they’re the games to watch in the coming year or so in this genre.

    Even the early Silent Hill games, specifically the second one delves into the notion of commiting sins and exploring the character rather than throwing monsters at you (SH 4 / homecoming). Silent Hill 2 for me gave the biggest clue to the purpose of Silent Hill as a whole. it manifests your sins in the form of the town, it’s people, real or not and the monsters it produced for you to face, like you have to face a problem head on sort of thing.

  14. IMO Fear was pretty insipid in the scares department, you could practically see all the Alma triggers before you stepped on them (and Fear 2 was even worse in this regard). Condemned criminal origins and Call of Cthulu are much better examples of horror in the first person genre. That said the majority of the best horror titles are third person. The trouble with scripting a first person horror title is that the designer never knows what direction the player will be facing so it’s harder to impliment set-piece scares, unless of course they take control of the player and make them look in a specific direction which sort of gives away the forthcoming scare.

    Persona 4 is scary in one respect: The ammount of my life it will consume if I’m to finish it.

  15. Well, the problem with any JRPG is that it’s really hard to create the sort of jolts that are needed for a good scare. Koudelka came a lot closer in my opinion than any other RPG. The Persona games are macabre, sure, but not scary in the traditional Alfred Hitchcock sense. Bioshock also fails as a horror game because death poses no threat by default. Resident Evil 1-3 and Code: Veronica were scary because you never really knew A) what was around the corner, or B) if you were equipped to handle it. Likewise with Dead Space, the sound of monsters skittering about in the vents kept you jolted at all times. Truly a wonderful experience.

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