Who doesn’t like a good horror game? When done right, it can instill feelings that no other genre can. Fear, dread, helplessness, making your heart pound and of course, forcing you to change your pants. Sadly, horror games have become a rare breed as of late, but that is a subject for another day. Everyone knows of Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but do you know Deep Fear? Here are eight great overlooked horror games that have been released over the years. Some of them you may know, but others are some real hidden gems.
# 8. Deep Fear
System: Sega Saturn
What It Is: Deep Fear can be described as Sega’s answer to Resident Evil. The game follows John Mayor and his fight for survival 300 meters beneath the Pacific Ocean. What could cause such a crisis? A UFO crash landed into the ocean. Of course, the only sensible thing to do is to collect it and bring it into a secret research facility under the ocean, what could possibly go wrong? Mutants, that is what could go wrong.
What Makes It So Scary: For starters, the setting. Resident Evil had the Spencer Mansion and Dead Space had the USG Ishimura. Deep Fear has a research facility under the ocean. It does not get any more isolated than that. Also, certain areas have a limited air supply, and firing your gun in these areas will deplete the air supply even faster. As a result, not only did you have monsters to deal with, but also the risk of asphyxiation
Why You Should Play It: Deep Fear was created in part by Rieko Kodam. For those that don’t know, she is the mastermind behind the Phantasy Star series and Skies of Arcadia. Despite the bad voice acting, Deep Fear was an extremely good game. Including everything from dealing with asphyxiation, drowning, fighting mutants, saving survivors, walking while aiming, and a creepy story, Deep Fear looked like the beginning of a great horror franchise. Sadly, the game launched during the last year of the Saturn’s existence and never had a chance to catch on. Maybe next-gen Sega will re-visited this IP.
Developer: From Software
System: PlayStation 2
What It Is: Richard Osmond and his fiance are flying to a moon base for their wedding. On their way, a mysterious force causes the shuttle to crash, killing many of the passengers on board. After awakening from the crash, Richard is on a quest to find his fiance and put to rest the spirits that now wander the base.
What Makes It So Scary: Echo Night: Beyond plays from a first-person perspective, and you have no weapons to defend yourself with. And honestly, why would you? It’s not as if you are part of the space division of Ghostbusters. Anyways, while exploring the moon base you will come into contact with ghosts. Some of the ghosts are friendly, and you need to bring them a personal item to put them to rest. Others are malicious, and must be avoided in order to progress. If you stay in the vicinity of a malicious ghost for too long, Richard will die of a heart attack. Also, the feeling of weightlessness is a nice touch that adds even more to the sense of immersion.
Why You Should Play It: Before Dead Space came around, Echo Night: Beyond showed that space could make a perfect setting for a horror game. Since you are defenseless, your only options when faced with a ghost is either to appeal to its good nature or to run. Also, walking into a room to hear the laughter of a ghost, seeing hand prints appear on your visor, and turning around to see a ghost staring at you is pretty scary. Echo Night: Beyond has plenty of scares and a story that may make a single tear drip from your eye.
Developer: Frictional Games
What It Is: Amnesia: The Dark Descent tasks you with controlling Daniel, and he has a bad case of amnesia. The only thing he remembers after waking up is his name, that he is being hunted, and he needs to kill the baron of the castle. Everything is not that simple though. Daniel must solve puzzles in order to navigate through the castle, find notes to piece together what is going on, and try to survive the monsters.
What Makes It So Scary: Amnesia: The Dark Descent is another first-person horror game that does not give you any weapons to defend yourself. You see the creature above? It would like nothing more than to kill you. Once it spots you, it will ruthlessly chase you until it has you in its nasty hands. The only option you have is to run and hide until it decides to give up pursuit. On top of trying to sneak around this castle, you have to deal with Daniel’s sanity. Stay in the darkness for too long, or stare at a monster for a while, and Daniel may start to hear and see things. You combat this by staying in the light, but this makes it easier for the monsters to see you. Amnesia: The Dark Descent does a wonderful job of making you think on your feet and instilling a sense of helplessness in the player.
Why You Should Play It: Amnesia: The Dark Descent shows what the indie scene can bring to the horror table. Frictional Games has created one of the best horror game of this generation and only a true warrior will be able to complete it. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is tough, it’s scary and it’s as immersive as hell.
#5. Haunting Ground
System: PlayStation 2
What It Is: After being involved in a car wreck with her parents, Fiona awakens in a cage in the butcher’s room of a castle. Shortly after leaving the cage, Fiona meets and befrinds a white German Shepherd named Hewie. Together, they must find a way to escape from the castle, all the while evading the creepy denizens therein.
What Makes It So Scary: Haunting Ground’s aesthetic can be compared to a slasher flick. Fiona must run and hide from whoever is chasing her, or else be killed. The castle is a very isolated place, much like the Spencer Mansion in Resident Evil. As a result, while Fiona may escape one creep in a certain area, she will certainly have someone else to deal with in another. Haunting Ground can also get very disturbing at times, especially when the giant, mentally disabled man wants to rape you. Essentially, this is one deadly game of hide-and-seek that you do not want to be apart of. Why You Should Play It: One of the draws of Haunting Ground is the bond between Fiona and the dog Hewie. You see, Hewie is the only thing that is protecting Fiona from the dangers of the castle. Fiona can issue commands to Hewie, but sometimes he won’t listen to you. Essential, you must train the dog on the fly. Fiona can praise or punish Hewie, and depending on your actions, Hewie may turn on you. It’s hard to explain, but Haunting Ground is a game where you must be escorted to safety.
#4. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Developer: Silicon Knights
What It Is: Alexandra Roivas is investigating the death of her grandfather, and while exploring his mansion, she discovers The Tome of Eternal Darkness. After reading the Tome, she experiences the life of a Roman named Pious Augustus. Throughout the rest of Eternal Darkness you will control other people throughout different time periods that all have a connection to the Tome.
What Makes It So Scary: The freaking sanity meter. Every time something happens, like being seen by an enemy, your sanity lowers. Once the meter lowers enough, some creepy things will happen. At first it will just be screams or the ceilings will start to bleed, the usual horror tropes. But…what a minute…why is my save file deleted? Why is the game muting? Why is the screen black? Why is there Edgar Allen Poe?
Why You Should Play It: Besides the sanity effects, which Nintendo trademarked, the gameplay is very good. Unlike most horror games, the combat feels like it would suit an action game. Don’t take that as a knock though, there are plenty of puzzles to solve, plenty of scares, and an intriguing story. Also, Silicon Knights has been teasing fans with a sequel for years now.
#3. Condemned 2: Bloodshot
Developer: Monolith Productions
System: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
What It Is: Ethan Thomas, the protagonist from Condemned: Criminal Origins, has left the SCU. Instead of being a member of the SCU, Ethan is now a homeless and violent drunk. However, he is quickly recruited back by his former organization, and is tasked with finding out what is going on in Metro City.
What Makes It So Scary: Not only do the mannequins make an appearance, but there is a little scene with a bear. Being in first-person definitely adds to the immersion of the creepy environments and the visceral combat. Condemned 2: Bloodshot is the video game equivalent of a really good haunted house.
Why You Should Play It: Condemned 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, so it is first-person and the combat is melee based. This means you are getting down and dirty with the violent citizens of Metro City. One thing that adds to the immersion is that your melee weapons will break after repeated use, making the encounters all the more intense. Also, since Ethan is an alcoholic, you have to regularly drink in order to combat his withdrawals. Add in the signature haunted-house type scares, forensics, and twist-filled story, and Condemned 2: Bloodshot is well worth the time for any horror fan.
Developer: Team GrisGris
System: PlayStation Portable
What It Is: A group of High School students stay late at school to clean up after a festival. Sadly, one of their friends will be transferring schools the next day, so they decide to tell scary ghost stories and perform a charm that will keep them friends forever. Naturally, everything goes wrong. The students are taken to Heavenly Host Elementary, the site of grisly murders and is haunted by the souls that were killed there.
What Makes It So Scary: Don’t let the sprites fool you, Corpse Party is a game that will haunt you long after it is over. Corpse Party is filled with psychological scares and disturbing twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Despite the lack of animated cutscene’s, the wonderful art stills and fantastic voice acting depicting the grisly deaths will send shivers down your spine.
Why You Should Play It: Corpse Party is hands down one of the best horror game to be released this generation. The story is gripping, the voice acting is fantastic, the art direction is great, the soundtrack is jammin’, and the characters are likable. Corpse Party is one of the few games to really make the player feel a strong connection with the characters, and when you fear for the safety of them, or feel really uncomfortable when something bad happens to them, well…let’s just say that Corpse Party is a really special game.
#1. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
Release: 2003 (2012 for the remake)
System: PlayStation 2, Xbox, Wii (remake)
What It Is: Twin sisters Mio and Mayu are visiting an old childhood spot, which is about to be cleared out for the construction of a dam. Mayu, the older one, wanders off after seeing a crimson butterfly and Mio follows closely behind. To their surprise, they stumble upon a village performing some sort of ritual. Before the ritual is complete, the village magically vanishes. What follows is perhaps one of the greatest horror stories ever told in any medium.
What Makes It So Scary: Mio has to look for a way to free her twin from the spell that is cast upon her. While looking for her sister, Mio is also tasked with unraveling the mysteries of the village and the truth behind the eerie Shinto ritual that must be performed repeatedly for an eternity. What makes Fatal Frame II scary is the fact that you are armed only with the Camera Obscura. This camera is used to exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the village. The only way to defeat the ghosts is by taking their picture, and trust me it is way harder and scarier than it sounds.
Why You Should Play It: Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly is the greatest horror game to ever be released. It has the perfect blend of jump and psychological scares. But what really sets it apart is the story that it tells. I really don’t want to spoil anything, just know that the story is very disturbing and it will play with your emotions. Fatal Frame II is a tough game to find, and it won’t come cheap. However, there is a remake for the Wii out in Europe and Japan (sorry North American gamers). If you call yourself a horror fan, you better have played Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. If you haven’t, you better be willing to sacrifice something dear to you in order to experience this game. Well there you have it, eight overlooked horror games throughout the years. Undoubtedly, you will have your own opinions about this list. Do you agree? Disagree? Is there a game you think deserves to be on this list (Slender was a contestant), or is there a game you think shouldn’t be on here? Am I just a wimp, and none of these games are scary? Shout it out in the comments section!
Like this list? Check out more underrated games in the rest of the Overlooked Games Series!
I’ve been trying to find a copy of Echo Night: Beyond for a while now. Looks like something I would really enjoy.
[…] Dark Descent. If you don’t know, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of the best, and sadly overlooked, horror games from this […]