Horror video games have been around for years. HALLOWEEN and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE first debuted on Atari – and by all accounts were just bad.
Years later we saw JAWS, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and FRIDAY THE 13TH make their way to the Nintendo Entertainment System. They were improvements from their Atari counterparts but also had their flaws. Each generation of gaming systems saw releases with horror undertones like MORTAL KOMBAT (with blood!) and ZOMBIES ATE MY NEIGHBORS just to name a couple. But it wasn’t until the next generation of gaming consoles that terror would go to a whole new level.
THE SUFFERING, SILENT HILL and RESIDENT EVIL franchises pushed the limit and are still relevant all these years later. Paving the way for yet another generation of horror games.
Now it looks like we have hit a renaissance in horror gaming. Last year we saw UNTIL DAWN, and a handful of horror survival video games hit the market. Rounding out horror fans thirst for new game titles like THE EVIL WITHIN – which just announced the sequel at E3.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE GAME arguably awoke a whole new era of horror video games. After a rocky launch horror fans have been addicted to the game ever since. We are seeing the rise of horror video games and it is glorious. New DLC packs were added to MORTAL KOMBAT last year making fans of the old school TERRORDOME PC game wet their pants. We finally saw our nightmares come to life pitting our favorite horror characters against one another.
But before Friday the 13th: The Game had horror fans glued to their TV’s, DEAD BY DAYLIGHT treated fans to a pretty awesome DLC HALLOWEEN Chapter. Originally only available via Steam it can now be purchased for Playstation 4 and XBox One for $25.
But If you are looking for more horror games to add to your que then start with these titles from 2016 and beyond – brought to you by IGN and Game Informer.
Open-world survival horror game PAMELA is set in a fallen utopia. After waking from a cryogenic sleep, the protagonist finds the idyllic and beautiful city of Eden overtaken by terrifying monsters known as the Afflicted. It looks like Deus Ex and Alien: Isolation fused together to create something new and terrifying.
Everyone on the Lunar Research Station is gone, and their disappearance mysterious and unanswered. Routine’s first-person horror comes from exploring the abandoned station, searching for clues as to what caused the abandonment in the first place.
The developer of Outlast 2 says it will “make gamers suffer.” The follow-up to 2013’s Outlast is set in the same universe and is designed to push players “to a place where going mad is the only sane thing to do.” The teaser trailer ends with a night-vision camera bringing forth from the darkness pairs of eyes, but little else is known at this time.
LAYERS OF FEAR
Layers of Fear is a journey into the mind of an insane artist. The level of madness is expressed through a constantly shifting reality within the game itself. Simply looking left or right can change the surrounding entirely, but it’s only through exploration of this constantly shifting reality that the story unfolds.
WE HAPPY FEW
We Happy Few isn’t a horror game per se, but it’s still creepy as hell. Rather than face outright monsters, you’re expected to blend into the weird, retro-futuristic alternate reality of 1964 England. Failure to conform to norms will cause the happy citizens of We Happy Few to turn on you, correcting your misbehavior with force.
UNTIL DAWN: RUSH OF BLOOD
An on-rails shooter seems more like a throwback to a by-gone era, but the genius of Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is in the way it still delivers a harrowing experience. The PlayStation VR game uses clever sound design to draw your attention to different places around the environment, with the end goal of scaring the crap out of you.
THE WALKING DEAD: MICHONNE
Telltale’s The Walking Dead game series will see both a mini-series and a new season in 2016. The 3-part Michonne series will tie the other seasons together and focus on Michonne’s untold story. Season 3 won’t come out until after Michonne’s mini-series, and Telltale is remaining tight-lipped about it.
Tangiers uses the stealth elements of the Thief series as a stepping off point for a self-described “avant-garde” game which borrows from the more unsettling parts of Dadaism, Voltaire, and David Lynch. The goal of the game is to dispose of 5 other beings in a shattered and hopeless landscape.
A young, blind woman must solve mysterious to avoid an unknown fate. Navigating only by echo-location, the atmosphere of the game is a reality made unnerving by the familiarity of objects as seen through the approximation of echolocation. The former BioShock developers behind the game credit both BioShock and Dead Space as influences.
THE HUM: ABDUCTIONS
In Narcosis, you find yourself at the bottom of the sea following an accident on an offshore oil rig. All alone, the atmosphere is made that much more frantic by the ticking clock that is the oxygen supply of the diving suit your character wears in the game. Couple that with encounters with monsters of the deep, contact with which increases oxygen consumption to the point where you’re character can black out. The Oculus Rift version of the game takes it one step further, putting you in total isolation from the world both real and imagined.
Why make up a horror setting when there are hundreds of alleged haunted locations to explore all around us? Like the early interactive CD-ROM Ghosts starring Christopher Lee, Ghost Theory takes an approach to the paranormal grounded in the legends and lore of the real world. This first-person adventure game from Dreadlocks Ltd. casts players as a clairvoyant invited to join a special university project investigating these locales. Visiting actual places like 30 East Drive in Pontefract, England and the Japanese “suicide forest” Aokigahara, you use gadgets and your supernatural gifts to explore these haunted sandboxes and draw out the ghosts for research purposes.
THROUGH THE WOODS
One of two games looking to fill the vacuum when Konami unceremoniously canceled the highly anticipated Hideo Kojima/Guillermo Del Toro collaboration P.T. (seriously, what were they thinking?), Visage transports players to a large, maze-like house where many families died in brutal fashion. Players relive memory fragments of those who perished here while developer SadSquare Studio uses every trick from the modern haunted house film playbook to get you to jump or feel that deep, toe-curling sense of dread. Randomized paranormal encounters should make each playthrough feel different, and the player must avoid going insane to learn why this house is cursed. SadSquare also has plans to bring Visage to VR platforms.
WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH
Giant Sparrow’s first release after Unfinished Swan isn’t the type of game to make you jump out of your seat in fright, but fits on this list nonetheless for its morbid theme and haunting atmosphere. This adventure game is constructed like a series of short stories about the cursed Finch family, each of which ends in death. The last remaining member of the family, Edith walks through the drafty, decaying family estate, eager to learn why so many of her kin met such strange demises.
These are just a few games on our radar. Tell us some of your favorite horror game recommendations in the last couple years in the comments section along with upcoming releases you are most excited for. Find Downright Creepy on Twitch and join us for a game of Friday the 13th: The Game.