Single-player games are meant to be played…well, alone. That’s the point. But when it comes to horror games, particularly survival horror, you may want some company before you dive head-on into an unknown environment. Even if you’re a horror game veteran, we don’t recommend playing any of these games by yourself.
Outlast A horror game in which a journalist investigates a freaked-out psychiatric hospital may sound clichéd, but Outlast is anything but. The Amnesia-inspired survival horror game arrived in 2013, marking the first release by the Canadian indie developer Red Barrels. Aside from the environment being unnerving, Outlast’s story is intriguing enough to keep players immersed. But what really hooks gamers are the mechanics. There’s an indescribable dizzying effect to the game that somehow makes it all the more vivid, and the first-person perspective heightens the entire experience. We’d wager that more people paused the game not because they needed to get up and stretch, but because the game just got too scary.
Outlast is unique among horror games. As a reporter, you’re armed only with a camera, and unless you’re using it as a blunt instrument, cameras are notoriously sucky weapons. Even worse, its night vision mode is all you have to lighten up the hospital. You don’t have a gun, a crowbar, or a kickass limb-rending chainsaw to defend yourself with latest casino bonuses.
If you see someone charging you, run. That’s your only move. And given how scary this game is, you’ll probably be running before you realize you triggered your fight-or-flight response. Even if you have a few people with you, playing the game in broad daylight, with the sound barely loud enough to hear, you still might not be able to finish. Resident Evil 4 The most well-known horror franchise is probably Resident Evil.
That’s due, at least in part, to how long it’s been around, as well as the enormously successful movie franchise it spawned. In fact, it’s the only video game film series that’s ended on its own terms. While the games have become much more action-oriented and less about survival horror, they still have their frightening moments. The best is undoubtedly Resident Evil 4. Even if you don’t find the game as scary as other installments, there’s no doubt it keeps you at the edge of your seat. Resident Evil 4 has plenty of creepy moments for which you don’t want to be alone — in-game or otherwise.
The setting creates suspense and terror during moments where you’re not even progressing through the story. Have you walked into a place and said to yourself, “This seems creepy?” That’s exactly what Resident Evil 4 is like, and that’s what makes it terrifying. Just exploring is scary enough. Silent Hill 2 It might be one of the greatest stories in gaming history — and one of the scariest.
You may play every horror game out there without being frightened, then play Silent Hill 2 and feel something unlike anything you’ve experienced. On the surface, Silent Hill 2 feels like Resident Evil in many ways, but fundamentally, the game makes you work hard to see its ending. Rather than granting players the freedom to wander around and do whatever they please, Silent Hill 2 is crafted to deliver a genre-defining horror experience. Alien: Isolation The original Alien movies are acknowledged as classics — and rightfully so.
But its status as a beloved movie franchise means that developer Creative Assembly had their work cut out for them when Sega commissioned the studio to create a new Alien video game. Isolation takes place 15 years after the events of the first Alien film, centering on Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda Ripley, as she investigates her mother’s disappearance. Unlike most survival horror games, which are meant to frighten you as much as possible with suspense and jump scares, Alien: Isolation focuses heavily on stealth, amplifying the suspense factor organically. You don’t want the alien to find you. At all. If you really want to have the ultimate horror experience, play Isolation with a virtual reality device.
Compounded with the stealth gameplay, it just might be a heart-stopping experience. F.E.A.R. Most survival horror games take place in a secluded environment in which the player is alone in an abandoned area or building. F.E.A.R. is a little bit different. The developers at Monolith Productions successfully managed to combine the best elements of Japanese horror genre and first-person shooters, and they did so while also providing a unique story.
Throughout the series, players take control of numerous protagonists, set across different time periods. But the villain is always the supernatural being Alma Wade, first depicted as an eight-year-old girl, and later an adult woman. In the first game, it’s unclear if Alma is, in fact, real, at all — or if she is able to manifest herself into the consciousness of her victims…like some sort of adorable Freddy Krueger.
The game has a pretty convoluted story arc, which involves everything from supernatural phenomena, government conspiracies, and even a character who closely resembles the girl from The Ring thrown in for good measure. In the first installment, players take control of the Point Man, the leader of the First Encounter Assault Recon, or F.E.A.R. team. Along with members of Delta Force, they’re ordered to eliminate someone named Paxton Fettel, who is psychically controlling a group of super-soldiers.
The game’s director once said he wanted players to feel like they’re the hero in an action movie. That’s precisely what playing F.E.A.R. feels like, albeit augmented with the actual fear of encountering creepy little Alma. SOMA Have you ever seen a movie that wasn’t particularly scary, at least not in the traditional sense of the word, but was instead disturbing on a fundamental level? That’s what SOMA’s like. But a video game.
The developers at Frictional Games combined the best gameplay aspects from their Amnesia series, which itself might be one of the most terrifying around, and tweaked them for SOMA. There’s nothing conventional about this game. There’s no combat, jump scares are limited, and the monsters aren’t all that frightening. The studio’s creative director, Thomas Grip, said that spooking and surprising players wasn’t what the game was supposed to be anyway. He said, “The fact of the matter is that SOMA, just like Amnesia, is very much a horror game. It’s just that it is presented in a different manner, using slower build-up and more focus on the psychological aspects.”
In that regard, he’s right. SOMA messes with you psychologically, screwing with your mind, making the most obscure elements feel eerier than anything else. Play this one with a friend, just so you can stay a little more sane.
The Evil Within In the late 2000s, developers seemed to be focusing more on action than horror, and Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami strived to change that with his new horror game, The Evil Within. He told IGN, “Survival horror as a genre is becoming all action now. That is the biggest motivation for me. …Having the player pick up the controller and being genuinely able to say, ‘Wow, I haven’t played a game this scary in ages!,’ that is what we are after.” When Mikami directs a new survival horror game, you know it’s going to be scary — and The Evil Within is downright terrifying. If you’re already a fan of the horror genre then you may be a veteran.
As such, you might not need someone to play with. But there’s no denying its effectiveness, and having a buddy on the couch might make you less likely to pee your pants. The survival horror elements, combined with the scarcity of resources, make The Evil Within even scarier. It’s not the jump scares that get you, it’s realizing that you’re out of ammo and have nowhere to go, with enemies coming at you from all directions. Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 The first installment in the Five Nights at Freddy’s series was scary in its own way, while the second and third games were more on the silly side.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 4, however, is undoubtedly the scariest in the whole series. Switching from a security office setting to a child’s bedroom instantly heightens the suspense and fear. The game triggers memories for people who were once afraid of the dark, or afraid that a monster was in their closet or under their bed…or was the bed. Imagine all of those terrifying fears come true — and the only item you can defend yourself with is a dinky flashlight. That’s Five Nights at Freddy’s 4, and it’s absolutely terrifying. Fatal Frame The Fatal Frame series is one of the longest-running horror game franchises.
But the first game, released in 2001, is perhaps the scariest. If you’re a fan of the Silent Hill series, you’re going to love Fatal Frame, or Project Zero, as it was titled in Europe. Fatal Frame takes place in the haunted Himuro Mansion in Japan, unfolding across multiple chapters, and it’s the player’s job to uncover the mansion’s secrets and determine what happened to its inhabitants. It’s not only about surviving, or about advancing to the next level. It’s also about the psychological impact the game will have on you once you’re done playing. That’s the beauty of Fatal Frame; it’s not a game that throws unnecessary jump scares at you, because it doesn’t have to.
It’s all about the suspense. If you have trouble sleeping or being home alone at night after watching a really scary horror movie, that’s exactly the feeling you’ll have if you play Fatal Frame alone. Consider yourself warned. Make sure you phone a friend to share the terror. Daylight Writer Jessica Chobot invented a unique story with a classic setting with Daylight.
Players are tasked with uncovering the secrets of a hospital by discovering remnants, acquiring sigils, and bringing them to the Seal of Shadows, all so they can advance through the game and eventually escape the forsaken building. Though the story isn’t anything special, what makes Daylight a truly terrifying game is rooted deep down in its core — it’s survival horror in the truest sense of the term. Armed with only glow sticks, flares, and a cellphone, players avoid shadow people while searching for a way out. And when players are confronted, the only thing they can do is either use a flare or just run. Unlike other survival horror games, Daylight’s environment is randomly generated. Every time you play, it’s different from the last time.