Oogie Boogie: 10 Horror Games That Are Actually Scary
6. Lone Survivor
Release Year: 2012
Available for: Windows, MacOS, PS3, Vita
Another recent indie darling: Lone Survivor has you pitted against mutants and disease. But maybe not. Maybe you’re just a hypochondriac with a gun. The unrelieable nature of the narrative gnawed at me for days after. The retro graphics are a nice touch, the flesh creepiness of the setting, plus the 16-bit sprites, make the game feel like Super Mario slipped into Silent Hill. It’s a creepy, unsettling trip.
7. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
Release Year: 2007
Available for: Windows
The main issue with the F.E.A.R. series is that the idea of a lone wolf murder man is directly at odds with the sense of helplessness and disempowerment most horror games thrive on. There’s actually a very good Hey Ash Watcha Playin’ on this exact problem. The solution to this is good old fashioned Russian bleakness. Yes, you have an AK-74 with an undersling grenade launcher, an armored radiation suit, and lots of med kits. You are still helpless, outnumbered, and lost in the dark. You are fucked. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl somehow miraculously walks the line between survival horror, regular survival, and a tough tactical shooter. Even its following iterations never captured the fantastic pacing and pants-wettening poltergeist sections. Yeah, go to the X18 Lab and tell me you didn’t run the hell out of there as quickly as possible.
Release Year: 2012
Available for: Unity
The SCP Foundation, since 2007 is a fun, addictive website about a fictional facility that houses supernatural and odd phenomenon in a touch-and-cheek dark humor style. With the advent of the Unity Engine, little SCP inspired games started to pop up, the best being SCP-087 about a dark stairwell, with some unnatural hiding below. Guaranteed to make you feel uneasy and you descend and descend and descend into the deep dark. Oogie boogie!
9. Shadow Man
Release Year: 1999
Available for: Nintendo 64, Playstation, Dreamcast, Windows, Mac OS
The term “underappreciated in its time” comes to mind when I remember this spooky Nintendo 64 title. It’s sort of like Voodoo Tomb Raider with some strange, disturbing art design and creatures, like the fat green butchers with hooks for hands and those GODDAMN DOGS in the first level. The dark, depressing, open-world afterlife called “Deadside” and the grim nature of the story cement this horror title in my memory. Hey, it’s available on Steam and Good Old Games, too.
10. The Thing
Release Year: 2002
Available for: Xbox, Playstation 2, Gameboy Advance, Windows
Yes, there was a lackluster, CGI-laden prequel/remake in 2011, which I have almost successfully blotted out of my memory with a combination of sour mash whiskey, turpentine, and bleach. But back in 2002, Black Label Games made a non-canon sequel to the original film in video game form. You were thrust into an identical situation at the original setting, but the game had a unique Trust/Fear system, as well as you battling the Arctic cold and meager supplies. And the best part: any one of your squad could be the Thing. It’s a game that screams for a fan-made HD remake. Get to it, Internet.
All of the games on this list are currently available in some fashion, in either retail, digital download, or browser form. Happy Halloween, Invaders!