The 23 best horror games

Just in time for Halloween, GamePro names the 23 horror-themed games everyone should play!

  • #10: Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly

    While most horror games have you facing off against fleshy aggressors such as zombies and other monstrosities with shotguns and other firearms, the Fatal Frame games have you battling ghosts with a camera. But your Camera Obscura is no ordinary Nikon — it has the ability to enslave the evil spirits you point its lens at. If you haven't experienced the game for yourself, play Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, the strongest entry in the blood-curdling series.
    Also Try: Fatal Frame
  • #9: Siren: Blood Curse

    Available via download on the PlayStation Network, Siren: Blood Curse is an enhanced version of the first bone-chilling, but underrated Siren that was originally released on the PS2. The game's story centers around a TV crew investigating a vanished village in Japan. Though the game is often compared to the superior Silent Hill franchise, it's different in a number of ways, the main of which is how you must use stealth in order to survive the horrors you encounter. You also have a huge arsenal of weapons at your disposal in Siren: Blood Curse, totaling over 50. For gamers who get a kick out of offing their enemies in a lot of ways, go download Blood Curse at once.
    Also Try: Forbidden Siren 2
  • #4: BioShock

    It wasn't the Splicers, the Big Daddy, or even the gruesome, blood-stained corpses that scared us in BioShock. It was the story of a perfect utopia, and how it could literally sink into the depths of Hell with nothing more than the inherent, natural greed of man. Every decision you made in the world of Rapture could mean brief salvation or sudden damnation — and no choice was more difficult or widely discussed than the fate of the Little Sisters. Would you save them? Or would your morals be silenced by your thirst for power?
    Also Try: System Shock 2
  • #18: Clock Tower

    Even though three games in the eerie Clock Tower series were made, the later installments couldn't match the terror and quality of the first game. The story centers around a killer known as the Scissorman who is savagely butchering people in Norway. You play as a female character named Jennifer Simpson who must figure out ways to thwart the serial killer's attempts to kill off the townspeople. Clock Tower is one of the better point-and-click horror games ever made, and even though it came out way back in 1995 it's still creepy. The game is also heavily inspired by Dario Argento's Italian gore-fest Phenomena which stars a young Jennifer Connelly.
    Also Try: Clock Tower 3
  • #1: Resident Evil 4

    Even though Resident Evil 4 had been in development since 1998, it wasn't until the famous E3 2003 haunted mansion trailer with "The Hook Man" that people sensed great changes to come in the series. RE4 not only put itself high above the perspective of what horror games should achieve, but it reaffirmed Resident Evil as a series that could still terrify gamers. With graphics that took full advantage of the consoles it was released for, an over-the-shoulder view, and much smarter enemies, Resident Evil 4 took several "Game of the Year" awards and infected every gamer who saw it in action. Even three years after Resident Evil 4's initial release, the first time you get savagely decapitated by the chainsaw of Dr. Salvador remains one of the scariest moments in gaming history.
    Also Try: Resident Evil
  • #5: Resident Evil 2

    The first Resident Evil helped establish Capcom as masters of the survival horror genre but it was with this spectacularly ghoulish sequel that they cemented their reputation as the premiere gore-meisters of the PlayStation era. Spanning two interconnected discs, the game offered a deliciously spine-tingling mix of action and scares; it kept you constantly on your toes with a beastly menagerie of undead zombies, challenging puzzles and diabolical bosses. Most of all, it was actually scary, with an overriding sense of dread punctuated by moments of fright. But its best feature was its complex and intertwined storyline: depending on which disc you played first, the game offered different challenges and outcomes. It is truly one of the greatest survival horror games ever produced and served as a template for all future titles to come.
    Also Try: Resident Evil 3
  • #22: D

    The puzzle-laden survival horror game D didn't make much of a splash in the US (likely partially due to the fact that the American version was neutered of its most gruesome moments). But the gamers who were fortunate enough to get a chance to play it were exposed to one of the most frightening games of the PlayStation/Sega Saturn era. In D you take on the role of Laura, a young student who must find out why here father, a respected doctor, has gone on a murder rampage. D had cool, but crude CGI cutscenes, multiple endings, and an all-around disturbing atmosphere that can scare the pants off even the most hardened survival horror fan.
    Also Try: D2
  • #11: The Suffering

    Midway's The Suffering is a meaner, grislier answer to the Resident Evils and Silent Hills of the world that more or less dominate the survival-horror genre. The Suffering wasn't quite polished as the horror game powerhouses mentioned, with its clunky controls and slightly repetitive gameplay, but its story remains one of the darkest ever in a video game, placing you in the role of a shape-shifting convict on death row for brutally murdering his wife and son. In one part of the game we'll never forget, you enter a padded cell where a bloodied prison guard with both his arms and legs cut off is flopping around the center of the room like a fish. That's just a small taste of the ghastly sights within The Suffering.
    Also Try: The Suffering: Ties that Bind
  • #15: Manhunt

    Rockstar's grotesquely violent Manhunt might not be the most wholesome video game on Earth, but it's the perfect interactive counterpart to unbelievably gory films like Saw and Hostel. Even though Manhunt's main draw is allowing you to create your own morbid snuff films by using everything from chainsaws to shards of glass to stylishly murder your enemies, it's right up the alley of fans of bloody entertainment. If you don't take the game too seriously, mutilating skinheads and blood-thirsty psychopaths can be a perfectly harmless way to get out some aggression.
    Also Try: Manhunt 2
  • #14: Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of Earth

    Easily one of the most overlooked horror-themed games in existence, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of Earth can be described as a more menacing version of Myst with guns, less puzzles, and placed into H.P.Lovecraft's short novel The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Slower in pace than your average horror game, Dark Corners of Earth, more than makes up for its lack of action with the foreboding and surreal atmosphere its dripping with. Another thing that adds to the terror you'll feel as you're playing through the game is the way that the main character experiences hallucinations as you run into disturbing things in the game such as butchered bodies and other unsettling sights.
    Also Try: The 7th Guest
  • #19: Dino Crisis

    Like mixing Jurassic Park with your worst nightmares, Dino Crisis used many scare tactics to make a lasting impression on PlayStation, PC, and Dreamcast owners alike. Even the game's scripting was awesome, as the game shifted camera angles and various sound effects would suddenly amplify when you were in danger of being mauled by a velociraptor. Dino Crisis was just more proof that Capcom really hit their stride with the horror genre, taking seemingly ridiculous plots and turning them into heart-pounding experiences.
    Also Try: Dino Crisis 2
  • #2: Silent Hill 2

    Just like Silent Hill's tendency to seep into the minds of the unwary, the games themselves will take extra steps to remind you that fear gets as real as you make it. Even completing the inventive complex puzzles couldn't have been more difficult, with the festering air of Silent Hill always closing in around you. From the constant fog obscuring your vision to the deformed denizens of this decaying town, the horrible imagery all contributes to a setting that haunts gamers long after console is turned off. Silent Hill 2 was even more unnerving as the first, which was no small feat.
    Also Try: Silent Hill
  • Just in time for Halloween, GamePro names the 23 horror-themed games everyone should play!
    Halloween is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate All Hallows Eve than by sitting down with some of the scariest video games ever created? Zombies, demons, and all sorts of other deadly creatures have been scaring the life out of gamers for years, and the gut-wrenching titles just keep getting better... Read on as GamePro reveals 23 horror-themed games that everyone with a taste for the macabre should play this season!

  • #8: Dead Rising

    Sure, Dead Rising ripped off the premise of arguably the greatest zombie film of all time, George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, but who cares? This tongue-in-cheek zombie-smashing action game allows gamers to run though a gigantic mall teeming with brain-eating zombies. One of the best features of Dead Rising is the unbelievably huge arsenal of weapons in the mall you can kill zombies with (over 250), including everything from toy swords to lawnmowers.
    Also Try: Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
  • #12: The House of the Dead 4

    Mowing down zombie hordes is an excellent way to pass the time, and The House of the Dead 4 added plenty of new ways to immerse yourself in this wicked light-gun shooter. Aside from the inclusion of multiple branching paths, the game's new motion sensor-equipped gun would require you to physically jostle your sidearm to shake off zombies that grab onto you. As if that wasn't enough, these waves of undead creepers will even try to knock players down and smother them, making it unwise to rest your trigger finger for even a second.
    Also Try: The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return (Wii)
  • #7: Condemned 2: Bloodshot

    When a game series is so gruesome it's banned in an entire country, you know that there's bound to be a bountiful amount of bloodletting. Condemned didn't disappoint by any means, but Bloodshot managed to take the horror yet another step further. Blunt objects used in melee combat would eventually splinter and break under pressure, giving you a whole new reason to fear the criminals that hid in the darkness around you. And who could forget being attacked by a gigantic, snarling bear? As if the dark and murderous atmosphere wasn't distracting enough, the noise of a slammed door or a kicked soda can often meant that we'd be peering around corners with sweat on our brows.
    Also Try: Condemned: Criminal Origins
  • #3: Dead Space

    Literally turning the Resident Evil 4 formula on its head, Dead Space rewards you for thinking quickly in a crisis. Headshots won't harm the vile creatures in Dead Space: they must be dismembered bit by bit, or they'll get tougher to kill. Dead Space's storyline is closely related to cult classics such as Event Horizon. You play as Isaac Clarke, a lone engineer trapped on a crippled space station. Your enemies are the Necromorph, misshapen monsters who have infested the ship's human crew and now stalk the darkened corridors. A wealth of upgrade options -- you can salvage cash to buy weapon enhancements and better space suits -- and horrific violence make Dead Space the first game to match, and possibly exceed, the brilliance that is Resident Evil 4. Play this one with the lights off.
    Also Try: F.E.A.R.
  • #21: Cold Fear

    Here's a great Resident Evil 4-styled horror game that, much like The Thing, was widely ignored upon its release. Big mistake: after Dead Space, Cold Fear is probably the best RE4 clone made yet. The key is to play the Xbox or PC versions, which use Doom 3-style per-pixel lighting that adds immensely to the claustrophobic atmosphere. You play as a Tom Hansen, an elite Coast Guard soldier, who is dispatched to a mysteriously abandoned Russian whaling ship. What he finds on the ship are vile parasites called "exocels" that have infested the ship's crew and animal life. Some clever gameplay touches -- you'll have to battle the rocking of the ship when trying to land those all-important headshots -- and super-creepy enemies make Cold Fear a legitimate cult classic. If you can find the Xbox or PC version, this is a horror game well worth experiencing.
    Also Try: Resident Evil Zero
  • #20: The Thing

    A pseudo-sequel to the cult classic film by John Carpenter, The Thing is one of the most disturbing survival horror games made. The graphics are only okay, but the gameplay is packed with clever ideas and shocking scares that will get your heart pumping in a hurry. You play as Captain Blake, leader of a military rescue team responding to a distress call from the Antarctic research base from the film. What you find are hordes of alien shape-shifting creatures, who will quickly try to infiltrate your team and secretly take over your men. That sword cuts both ways: your men will frequently mistrust you, and you'll have to prove your humanity by lending them guns or killing nearby creatures. The game starts slowly, but gradually builds into a chilling, paranoid nightmare, especially when you battle the larger shape-shifting monsters that can only be killed with fire. A minor classic and a must-play for any horror fan.
    Also Try: Nightmare Creatures
  • #16: Clive Barker's Jericho

    By no means a perfect game, Clive Barker's Jericho features some of the most genuinely disgusting adversaries we've ever seen in a game. Just about everything in the game, from the skinless muscle-tissue main menu background to some of the environments that look like they were carved out of bleeding meat, is the kind of thing you'd only expect from the twisted mind of Barker whose best known for his quintessential horror film Hellraiser. Highlight of the game: a boss fight against a morbidly obese man suspended by chains on the ceiling who attacks you by ripping open his bulbous gut and spraying you with his acidic intestinal juices. Yuck!
    Also Try: Clive Barker's Undying
  • #13: Doom 3

    Upon its controversial release in 2004, Doom 3 was rightfully knocked for its flimsy multiplayer mode and cheap scare tactics. Well, monster closets be damned — even though Doom 3's demonic foes take less-than-honorable tactics, the results were frequently heart-stopping. Take the Imp, a spider-like demonoid who would pounce across the room to maul you with his savage claws. Though Doom 3 is far from a perfect game (the ending levels lost some steam), if you can look past the flaws you'll experience some real chills. The battles with the 15 foot-tall Hell Knights are particularly memorable. Plus, the graphics still look stunningly atmospheric even four years later. if you haven't played it yet, give it a whirl.
    Also Try: Doom II
  • #6: Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

    The sanity meter was a concept that made Eternal Darkness the must-have horror game for the Nintendo GameCube. What made things really harrowing was that you didn't know if the game itself was playing with you, or if the sanity had inexplicably crossed over into real life. Did the game just turn off your TV, or is it trying to get into your head? At times, you weren't even sure if you were in control or not, with further hallucinations beheading your character, turning the levels inside out, or simply trying to convince you that all your save files were being deleted. That, my friends, is true horror.
    Also Try: Sanitarium
  • #23: Evil Dead: Regeneration

    Let's be honest, the handful of video games based on Sam Raimi's pre-Spider-man, Evil Dead trilogy lacked most qualities that made the horror-comedy films so damn cool. But THQ's Evil Dead: Regeneration, the fourth game adapted from the Evil Dead movies, was as close to a game that matched the cheesy awesomeness of the films. Regeneration placed the player in an alternate scenario where Ash gets committed to a nuthouse instead of getting sucked into the time warp as he did in the end of Evil Dead II. The game featured a number of gruesome beasts to tear apart with Ash's trademark "boomstick" shotgun and chainsaw hand duo (as well as some other weapons), including Evil Ash and an disgusting half-rat, half-fish behemoth. The best thing the game had going for it though is the sidekick that helps you through the course of the game, an undead midget named Sam.
    Also Try: Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick
  • #17: Haunting Ground

    In most horror games, the comfortable sight of ammo and health and be found scattered everywhere in sight. In Haunting Ground, no such comforts exist, as the only thing standing between you and a gruesome death is your brains and a faithful canine companion. Possibly the most horrifying part of this game are the parts that aren't explicit -- the main villains all have plans for defenseless damsel Fiona that get worse with your imagination. Some will hurt her, some will violate her, and others will kill her. Haunting Ground's patented "panic mode" also adds yet another layer of terror, making you an easier target as Fiona's fear grows...
    Also Try: Obscure
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