“You were almost a Jill Sandwich.”
October 23, 2017 6:11 PM   Subscribe

The Best Horror Games [PC Gamer] “So you're looking to spook yourself with the best horror games you can play on PC, are you? Whether you're into jump scares, interactive fiction, thematically interesting stories or just large men running after you with a chainsaw, we've included a wide variety of games that'll hopefully freak you the hell out. Like our lists of best strategy games or best FPS games, we tried to focus on a variety of horror experiences that still hold up well today, though we've expanded the remit slightly to include a few retro curios as well.”

• Why Horror Games Are More Fun to Watch Than Play [Motherboard]
“I'm hiding under a desk in an insane asylum, waiting for two hulking, naked twins with machetes to turn the corner so I can run into the other room without being noticed. The only tool at my disposal is a digital video camera with a night vision mode and a dwindling battery that helps me see in the dark. It's just a game, Outlast, to be precise, but my heart is beating fast because I'm big scaredy cat. This isn't my definition of fun, and it's certainly not my idea of relaxing with a video game at the end of the day. More often than not, video games are power fantasies. When I play Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, for example, I start out as a badass super soldier, and the more I play, the more cool military toys I get, making me even more powerful. In order to scare players in any meaningful way, horror games have to do the opposite. They make you feel weak and more vulnerable than you are in real life. They reduce you to a pathetic coward hiding under a desk. It's not fun in the way Metal Gear is fun, but it's exciting, and often more entertaining to to watch other people play them than playing them yourself. ”
• Hello, my name is Joey, and I can’t play scary video games [Technobuffalo]
“It started all the way back with DOOM. You have to remember, while it looks ridiculous now, the graphics of the original DOOM were cutting edge. Back when we were playing stuff on 2D-capable consoles, DOOM came along and showed us exactly how awesome video games could look in motion. The hellspawn scared the crap out of me. Fast-forward to today and video games look practically real. It’s more than I can handle. For me, I think it boils down to the interactivity of video games. The fact that it’s happening to “me.” I know it’s fake. I know it’s not real, and I get that I could just turn it off and walk away without any of the stuff in the game actually affecting my life. But my lizard brain, the part of me that just sort of reacts to things, can’t handle the interactivity of video games. When it’s on film, I’m able to distance myself as a third-party viewer. I don’t get wrapped up in it in the same way. Sure, jump-scares work on me, and I’ll leave a film feeling really weird. But it doesn’t affect me the same way. With games where I play the central character, and this especially goes for first person games, the pressure feels way too real. It freaks me out.”
• Why Resident Evil 7 is the perfect horror game for 2017 [The Guardian]
“Horror movies have always reflected and explored the political climate of the eras that produced them. In the 1950s, Cold War paranoia led to a spate of films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers about aliens hiding among us, looking to destroy humanity from within. Later the chaos and bloodshed of the Vietnam war inspired a cycle of cynical, anarchic and bloody movies such as Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wes Craven’s Last House On the Left, in which the rules of civilised society collapse amid senseless, numbing violence. Horror cinema, with its in-built tropes of shock and tension, has always provided a convenient way for culture to process real-life fears. This is why Resident Evil 7, released this week to much critical acclaim, is an interesting benchmark for where horror video games are right now, and what they say about the world around us. Set in a nightmarish version of rural Louisiana, the story has everyman Ethan Winters stumbling on a seemingly abandoned plantation mansion while searching for his missing wife, Mia. What he discovers however, is psychopathic family, who imprison him in their supernatural lair.”
• Outlast II: Experiencing A Mental Breakdown [Game Informer]
“While walking down a school corridor, lockers open and close of their own accord, like shutters in a strong wind. The walls bleed a deep red and pulsate like bulging veins. A girl’s melancholic voice sings a children’s song in the distance. Immediately, an overwhelming sensation comes over me: I know I’m not alone. Horror lurks in every corner in Outlast 2, making it tense and exhilarating. This sequel leaves behind the claustrophobic asylum of the first game for greater ambitions. Players still sneak around in first-person, solve light puzzles, and avoid enemies at all costs. The environments and psychological scares in Outlast 2 are bigger than its predecessor’s, but the storytelling suffers by relying too heavily on shock value. Outlast 2 stars investigative journalist Blake Langermann, who seeks the truth behind the murder of a Jane Doe in rural Arizona alongside his wife. Upon arriving, however, the two are separated when Blake’s wife is captured by a group of radical cultists. This narrative is completely separate to the first Outlast, offering a new storyline in the same universe, so newcomers don’t need to worry about being left in the dark.”
• 'Alien: Isolation' is the most terrifying game I've ever played [The Verge]
“I'm holding my breath. Huddled in a dark hallway in an abandoned medical facility, the only light coming from a flickering fluorescent bulb, I'm crouched with my back to the wall. There's a xenomorph walking around; I can hear it, but if I pull out my radar to pinpoint its location the alien will surely hear the beeping. That'll be the end of me. Luckily, the light is just enough to illuminate the shiny floor, and I can make out the creature's reflection as it investigates a room to my left. Now that I know exactly where it is, I slowly make my way a bit further up the hallway, and then pull out a flare, light it, and toss it down the hallway to my right. The xenomorph sprints after it, long tail dragging behind, and I stand up and run as fast as I can to the left where there's an elevator. As I hit the button to leave, I turn to see the the alien bounding in my direction, alerted by my noisy running. It’s screaming in anger. The doors shut just in time. I exhale. This is Alien: Isolation at its very best. The first-person survival horror game takes place 15 years after the original Alien film, and it aims to recreate that same sense of terror: you're stuck on a space station with a xenomorph, and you need to find a way to survive.”
• Dead Space 2 Is Insanely Terrifying, Crazy Good [Kotaku]
“Dead Space 2 now has me thinking video games may not be a healthy pursuit after all. Despite playing through the original Dead Space twice, my heart was not as well-conditioned to its horrors as I originally thought. Visceral Games' newest sci-fi fright-fest piles on the spooks and scares just as well as its predecessor, a 12 hour long deep dive into the insanity of engineer Isaac Clarke. In Dead Space 2, Clarke, the unlucky engineer who tore alien undead limb from limb in the original Dead Space, faces a new Necromorph onslaught on a space station dubbed the Sprawl. Even Isaac's mental state, shattered after the events of the first game, is conspiring against him in his attempts stop the Necromorph infestation. Isaac arms himself with new weapons and faces new, ghastly foes; but Dead Space 2 doesn't bring many new tricks to the survival horror formula—save for its online multiplayer mode. It does, however, keep the thrills coming. [...] The original Dead Space is one of this generation's great horror games, a masterpiece of terrifying sound design, great atmosphere and bristling tension. Dead Space 2 matches its predecessor in those departments and fixes a few of its unlovable quirks.”
• Silent Hill 2 is a perfect game... and it's still inspiring horror in 2017 [GamesRadar+]
“Nothing about it seems real to begin with. It all starts with protagonist James Sunderland pondering his reflection in a filthy bathroom mirror (a smart nod to the overarching theme of self-discovery, and maybe a cheeky reference to the eyes being the window to the soul), immediately forcing the player to acknowledge who they're taking control of. They instantly become part of James' nightmare, and from then on anything that happens does so within the context of this state of unreality. As you descend the overly-long pathway into town, you're slipping deeper in James' nightmare. Once you accept this, any number of technical shortcomings can be written off as part of the bizarre dream that the game exists within. Bit flimsy? Well, it goes a little deeper, thanks to a handful of happy coincidences (no, I don't know the collective noun for a 'happy coincidence') and smart slices of design. First off - the fog. Silent Hill 2 was created on a console (PS2) with a relatively limited draw distance, so instead of rendering the whole town as far as the eye can see, technical limits forced the developers to blanket it with a murky shroud of mist. I say 'forced' - chances are the team was happy to do it, because there's something deeply unsettling about hearing creatures shuffling around in the haze. The bulk of the horror then takes place in the player's imagination, as they wonder what abomination will come shuffling out.”
posted by Fizz (50 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Surprised and mildly delighted to see "Anchorhead" on this list. I haven't tried all of them by any means, but I recall all of the biggest frights that video games have ever given me being in text format. "Anchorhead," "Shade," "Shrapnel," even "Slouching toward Bedlam," though admittedly that one really only kicks in once you figure out what the heck is going on.

I think the reason is this: most of the traditional graphical games rely on a steady building sense of dread to be effective, and that's marked by time elapsing in the game world. Alien or zombie or weird Lovecraftian horror stalking you? Hang out in a closet and listen to it make weird clicking noises a few feet away until it leaves. If you misjudge and get stabbed / eaten / mangled to death, you try again, hide somewhere else, wait longer. If you fail, you die once more; oh well.

You have none of those recourses in a text-based game, where time is largely irrelevant and you'll die horribly over and over again unless you figure out the puzzle / conceit. I remember one point in Anchorhead where I had to avoid an (utterly and truly terrifying) enemy in a similar way, and I remember staring at the screen for *minutes* while the little prompt blinked at me, wondering whether to try and escape or just wait and hope it passed me over. Those minutes before I finally hit the 'z' key and then return were long and distressing ones.

What happened then? I remember, but it hardly matters.
posted by lorddimwit at 6:45 PM on October 23, 2017 [10 favorites]

Re some of the games mentioned in TFA: I just played Stories Untold and while I can't unreservedly recommend it, I did enjoy it. (Hint: when you get stuck in the first 5 minutes, LOOK AROUND, and *then* go to the generator.)

Your mileage may vary with IMSCARED but I found it more irritating than scary. Maybe consider Judith, a free game by Terry Cavanagh and Stephen (Increpare) Lavelle, instead.

Strongly agreed on Alien: Isolation, Anchorhead, and Inside (though wow, that's a diverse mix of games right there). From Steam I'd also add Oxenfree, though if you play games on iPads consider getting it there. Also, it's tricky to get running on modern systems but Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is still the best Cthulhu game on PC* and for $5, maybe worth a shot. In fact if you're up for a bit of an older game, Nosferatu is still a lot of fun.

* The best not-technically-on-PC Cthulhu game is probably still Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, which may be tricky to play unless you have an old GameCube or Wii lying around, but if you've got a newish PC and a bit of patience, note that it runs very well in emulators like Dolphin (and images of the original game disc aren't too hard to find online).
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 6:49 PM on October 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

I haven't been a regular fan of "horror" games in a long time, which got me thinking about why the Dino Crisis franchise abruptly stopped. Sure it was Resident Evil with Dinos, but the original game was great and sold well and was reviewed well if I recall. The second had issues; rushed to market probsbly.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:55 PM on October 23, 2017

oh man, Silent Hill 2, the first game to scare me so much I had to stop playing and catch my breath. Some gory old games like Life Force and Splatterhouse really spooked me up, but I was a kid then. Silent Hill 2 was on another level. Pyramid Head remains one of my favorite entities.

... technical limits forced the developers to blanket it with a murky shroud of mist.

This was also true of just about every fantasy movie in the ‘80s, but it didn’t work so well then.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:00 PM on October 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

2017 has been a pretty solid year for horror games: Resident Evil VII and Outlast 2 are both games I can only play for 30-45 minutes at a time because I'm just too freaked out to play for any longer.

Resident Evil VII's switch to first person perspective works on so many levels. It's one of the most frightening experiences I've ever played through. And while Outlast 2 isn't perfect, it is a gorgeous looking hide & seek murder walking simulator and the story is really well told (particularly the flashbacks).
posted by Fizz at 7:03 PM on October 23, 2017

Clive Barker's Undying did shooting-and-casting long before Bioshock, a creepy setting and atmosphere, and a great horror storyline. Only downside is that they designed it in anticipation of an Xbox port that never happened, so the levels are kind of small, but on modern machines load times are nigh-instant anyway.

The other game that got Clive Barker's name on it, Jericho, is awful and not worth playing.

Over the years I think I've figured out that I prefer horror-themed games (Castlevania, Doom, Splatterhouse, etc) to actual horror games, at least past a certain level of nerve-wrackery. The Resident Evil 7 demo was too much for me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:06 PM on October 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Dunno. Amnesia: The Dark Descent still gets my vote. Still cant play that one for more than an hour (in the dark with headphones obviously) without needing to switch to a Disney film to relax my nerves.
posted by elendil71 at 7:10 PM on October 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

No Hugo's House of Horrors? Clear oversight.
posted by tummy_rub at 7:12 PM on October 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also, here’s a Retsupurae riff of a playthrough of Harvester, which is referenced in the Best list. The game is gross, misogynistic, homophobic, and full of ‘90s 3dge upon which to cut yourself. But when you watch that playthrough, it certainly has the manic energy of a Rifftrax-level slasher film, the kind that keeps you going. I don’t know if it was actually a good game to play, though. I never liked point-and-click adventures.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:16 PM on October 23, 2017

Good to see someone with the screenname “lorddimwit” sticking up for text games. All is as it should be.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:19 PM on October 23, 2017 [8 favorites]

Doki Doki Literature Club has been haunting me for the past day.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:22 PM on October 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

If we're talking text adventures, how about Infocom's The Lurking Horror, a Lovecraftian tale about how weird things get at the end of fall semester? Play it online here thanks to the Internet Archive and see the included manual, feelies, etc here
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:30 PM on October 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

I am not too proud to admit that I created a G.U.E. Tech Alumni bumper sticker (blatantly abusing the images and associated copyrights associated with the materials in the aforementioned feelies) and applied it to my car.

To date, no one has really gotten the joke and it takes long enough to explain to render its effect utterly pointless, but still, there it is.
posted by lorddimwit at 7:42 PM on October 23, 2017 [7 favorites]

Clive Barker's Undying did shooting-and-casting long before Bioshock, a creepy setting and atmosphere, and a great horror storyline. Only downside is that they designed it in anticipation of an Xbox port that never happened, so the levels are kind of small, but on modern machines load times are nigh-instant anyway.

I don't think I've ever hated a "door won't open" sound clip as much I hate the one in Undying.

The first half of the game is fun, but flawed (the space limitations make a creepy mansion setting into one long hallway). The second half of the game is a Xen equivalent, unfortunately, replete with a boss that was tedious even after enabling cheat codes to fight.
posted by codacorolla at 7:55 PM on October 23, 2017

The first time that the dogs jumped through the windows in the hallway in the original Resident Evil was one of the few times that a game freaked me out. I normally don't buy into games enough to get scared by them, but that time got me. I think it was a combination of things, actually. First is the jump scare. Boom! Zombie dogs! But, and I think this is more important, is that prior to that moment monsters didn't just smash into the playing field. Like prior to that moment, monsters in games mostly played fair. Neither the monsters nor the players were able to operate outside of the limited playing space, and it was something I had grown to expect. But, when the dogs smashed through the windows, the game was basically saying 'you are not safe anywhere at any time'. They were saying that there were no limits to how monsters could behave, and that was the really scary thing.
posted by Literaryhero at 8:10 PM on October 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

replete with a boss that was tedious even after enabling cheat codes to fight.

I quite liked the second half, though it's not as good - that boss was a head scratcher though, I just died a couple of times and uninstalled it in good heart.

Deadspace 1 was crazy good, it's actually a decent candidate for System Shock 3 (at least until the actual system shock 3 came around in the form of Prey)
posted by Sebmojo at 8:28 PM on October 23, 2017

Oh! and I played silent hill 2 not realising you could kill the monsters. I just kept knocking them down and running away. Made a fairly horrifying game utterly bowel-loosening.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:32 PM on October 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have rather little interest in horror games personally, but I do find it fascinating looking at a List of Female Let's Players and seeing horror games come up among their interests again and again and again. I wonder what it is that makes the genre so appealing to the youtuber types.
posted by one for the books at 8:39 PM on October 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Play some VR horror games. Once you've done that, flat-screen games won't do much for you.
posted by Hatashran at 9:17 PM on October 23, 2017

The scariest horror for Halloween?


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posted by Samizdata at 9:53 PM on October 23, 2017

So, I have an original PlayStation, and I have a copy of Silent Hill 2, and from what I've heard, SH2 is the sine qua non of horror games. But when I've tried playing it, I've been so put off by the dated graphics, clumsy mechanics, and paucity of save points that I'm not sure I'm going to make it all the way to the mind-blowing final revelation I keep hearing about. Apparently there's a PS3/Xbox 360 update, though—fortunately I still have both of those consoles. Or maybe I'll just spoil myself on the wikipedia page, since my backlog is so immense.

Regarding Eternal Darkness and its mind-bending sanity effects mechanic—One time I was playing a level where your character is exploring benighted and ancient underground tunnels, and I heard a phone start to ring. I thought, "that is a really freaky effect to happen at this point in this level!" Soon after I realized that no, an actual phone in my apartment was ringing. It's great when a game has its hooks in your brain such that it makes you reject the real world. ED's lack of a sequel is one of my great gaming regrets.

Finally, the most effective horror game I've ever played was Haunting Ground, also a PS2 title, because it was a game where you couldn't fight back, you could only hide and hope your pursuer didn't notice you cowering under that bed. That was the only game I ever had nightmares about! Last year I played Outlast, which was pretty similar, but at least it gave you the edge over your pursuers in that you can see in the dark when they can't.
posted by ejs at 11:17 PM on October 23, 2017

Anyone remember "Sanitarium?"
posted by reiichiroh at 11:53 PM on October 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Glad to see System Shock 2 on the list. It remains the only game to give me cold sweats. I'm not usually a horror game person (I hate jump scares), but the few jump scares in SS2 are done well and most of the horror is just the creeping dread. Ignore the outdated graphics and you're solid. The sound design still holds up well, it's second only to Hellblade in quality (although incredibly different).
posted by Hactar at 12:26 AM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Anyone remember "Sanitarium?"

Yup. I do.

Also, both SS2 and Undying both gave me cold shivers at points.
posted by Samizdata at 12:33 AM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's a good series on Giant Bomb at the moment - Six Crazy Frights. Relatively new addition to the Giant Bomb East crew, the excellent Abby Russell, plays various horror games (so far: PT, Layers of Fear, Amnesia: Justine, and Outlast) while alone in the studio, with Vinny Caravella in the control room. They chat about the game and Vinny occasionally messes around with the voice changer.

In other news I've designed a terrifying video-game-themed jack-o-lantern. Witness the horror.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:33 AM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Glad to see System Shock 2 on the list. ... The sound design still holds up well, it's second only to Hellblade in quality (although incredibly different).

I played SS2 wearing headphones in a darkened room, and it was really scary. Particularly the hybrids, and particularly when everything was quiet and then suddenly KILL ME whack

SS2's latest and best spiritual successor, Prey (2017), is also pretty damn terrifying.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:47 AM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

NOSFERATU: WRATH OF MALACHI was pretty scary back in 2003.
posted by jmccw at 2:58 AM on October 24, 2017

Play some VR horror games. Once you've done that, flat-screen games won't do much for you.

Resident Evil VII in VR remains the only time I've had to take OFF the helmet and play in 2D mode because it was TOO immersive.

There's a point early in the game when you get attacked by an enemy with a chainsaw and when my wrist hurt after I tried to fend off the attack, I remember thinking "that's enough VR today, thank you."
posted by Paladin1138 at 3:56 AM on October 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was once playing Amnesia on my laptop on the couch while my wife was watching TV. I put on headphones so I wouldn't bother her and could immerse myself more in the game. I got to that flooded level where the invisible monster goes after you if you accidentally fall in the water, and of course I fell in for the first time, and when the thing started to chase me, that's when I panicked.

Shrieked, to be precise. I don't have good pitch at all, so I couldn't name the note, but I feel comfortable saying it was somewhere in the rightmost 15 keys on a piano.

From her perspective, I was just sitting there quietly and then two or three short shriek blasts. Think Homer Simpson panicking. That sound. She looked over and saw my eyes bugging out and my legs flailing and I didn't hear the end of that one for a couple of weeks.

It is a weird thing to adore a game that you can't bring yourself to finish.
posted by middleclasstool at 4:46 AM on October 24, 2017 [7 favorites]

I didn't find Shalebridge Cradle as scary as Thief's Haunted Cathedral, maybe because I wasn't living alone when I played Thief 3, but Kieron Gillen's writing on the topic was great.

Looking back, I don't know how I managed to play either of those games. Something about the stealth mechanic made the fear bearable; darkness is like a safe warm blanket in Thief games, but I was totally unable to get past even the first couple of levels of Eternal Darkness. I am a delicate flower really.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:29 AM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not a big fan of horror games, but there's plenty of horror to be found in regular games. I doubt any scripted jump scare was worse than a Terror mission I once in had in UFO:EU where everything almost went tits up in the first two turns and then had to carefully find where the chryssalids were from the windows on top floors after blowing up the stairs because it was far too early in the game to have anything better than heavy lasers and personal armor.
posted by lmfsilva at 5:41 AM on October 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have Alien: Isolation and although I've played it many times I'm only 20 mins in because I can only play for a few minutes before stopping. I've just barely even got to the part with the Alien. Before this it's just been walking around in a mostly abandoned space station BUT WALKING IS TERRIFYING.

My favorite scary game story though involves my sister. She and I enjoy playing things like Amnesia and Slender Man even though we rarely finish them. We also really love the cute-but-grotesque game Don't Starve. She was playing it on the desktop at my mom's house one day and all of a sudden she just gets up and walks away from the computer. She's paused the game and I can see the pause screen. She just says, "the dogs are coming to eat me." She goes and makes herself some mac and cheese. She sits on the couch and watches One Tree Hill while eating her mac and cheese. She takes a nap. She goes to work. Two days later she says, "ok, I think I can deal with it now," and unpauses the game.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:47 AM on October 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

Is anyone here playing Hello Neighbor? I've considered it, but am definitely in the "love scary games in theory, can't handle them in person" camp. Bioshock was too much for me! Shrieking people out of the darkness. Blah.

Also: since nobody else here has mentioned it, if you're a MeFite and you like games, you should consider the particular flavour of MeFightClub, which I don't really participate in as much as I'd like, but which is great.
posted by Shepherd at 6:22 AM on October 24, 2017

Adding to the "can't-play-horror-myself" chorus: has anyone played Detention? I was very interested when it was recced to me, only to discover to my immense disappointment that it was the unplayable genre.

Shade is definitely one of my favorite Plotkin games. I never conceived of it as horror before, but I can see the motivation of that classification. Anyway, as it too is free to play on- or offline, I have linked the online version and encourage any interested parties to check it out -- it is not at all a long game. Here is a parser-IF command cheat-sheet as well.

I guess there's also the thing where a large part of my incompatibility with horror is due to its reliance on gory imagery and jump scares -- that's not as much of an issue in text, where it's a lot easier to allude-to rather than full-monty (and I don't think you can do jump scares at all?).
posted by inconstant at 7:17 AM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

The one linked article that looks at people who prefer to watch 'Let's Play' videos of horror games is something I absolutely understand. Sometimes I avoid playing a horror game that I own and want to play because I'm too scared to get beyond a certain point but I still want to watch what happens and where the story goes. And while I'm ostensibly spoiling the game for myself, I at least know when a horrid jump scare is about to happen.
posted by Fizz at 9:22 AM on October 24, 2017

Anyone remember old-school The Institute? This is from the Zork and Castle Wolfenstein era. It was
lo-fi but scared the beejesus out of this teenager! (can't seem to find it on-line, maybe I am getting name slightly wrong).
posted by zippercollider at 12:13 PM on October 24, 2017

Great list to have.
Silent Hill 2 is probably my favorite game ever. I've rarely been really scared by a movie in my life, but this game freaked me out. I've been looking for a successor since. I'm less interested in fighting and more in mood and exploring.

Eternal Darkness was also pretty great.

My wife loves these games, more than me, but she's never touched the controller. She likes to watch, keep notes, say "don't go in there", help make decisions, etc. We call it "navigating". She's the Navigator.
posted by bongo_x at 12:17 PM on October 24, 2017

Relatively new addition to the Giant Bomb East crew, the excellent Abby Russell, plays various horror games (so far: PT, Layers of Fear

Does anyone here recommend Layers of Fear? I'm not generally into horror games (I kind of liked Amnesia and Slender, but not enough to finish them), but I really enjoyed >observer_, a cyberpunk horror game made by the same company (and which I just noticed is 15% off on Steam until the 27th). I might give it a go.
posted by homunculus at 12:42 PM on October 24, 2017

Layers of Fear was a C+/B- game. There are a few scary bits, but for the most part it's walking down a hallway having stuff happen to you with a few puzzles here and there. Apparently there are multiple endings depending on a few branching choices you can make, but I can't imagine playing the game again to experience them. However, the art assets, and polish of the game made it fairly enjoyable. It does use its engine fairly well, and there are some nifty, psychedelic effects here and there, such as impossible hallways, perspective bending views, and creepy little set pieces.

I was playing on a desktop, so perhaps I wasn't getting the full experience, but as a game it's not much, and as a story it's sort of dumb and predictable. Worth it on sale, I'd say.
posted by codacorolla at 12:47 PM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agree completely on the Layers of Fear assessment. Just finished it and it was about half again as long as it needed to be. Definitely some neat ideas and production values, but too much repetition to maintain itself.

Little Nightmares was another recent creepy title that plays and is paced very well. It too makes great use of graphical techniques and art style to stand out. Everything looks very real and very wrong.
posted by subocoyne at 1:07 PM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hmm, Layers of Fear didn't hit my radar. The trailer looks interesting and its not a bad deal for $20 on Steam. That being said, the trailer has some really weird moments where the POV blurs or swerves in some way and its jarring. Made me a bit nauseous, which doesn't usually happen.

Is that some thing you are able to control in the game by switching between (what seems like different time lines or worlds)? Or is this something that just randomly happens by the game/camera. Cuz I might not pull the trigger on this, weird motion sickness is not something I'm wanting.
posted by Fizz at 3:19 PM on October 24, 2017

There aren't really many interactions other than "walk" and "interact button", but looking at the trailer those are all automatic effects, usually used suddenly to create tension. I would not recommend it for $20 bucks, but with the October sale on the way I would say that $5 to $15 is pretty reasonable.
posted by codacorolla at 3:31 PM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks, codacorolla & subocoyne.
posted by homunculus at 4:56 PM on October 24, 2017

Layers of Fear definitely gave me a twinge of dizziness during some of the screen effects (and I don't often have that response). I can see how it might have even been intentional, since it's largely about hallucination, disorientation, etc. They're typically short sequences, and some are quite impressive (paintings dripping and revealing new images, the rooms themselves melting), but if you're highly susceptible to it, I might steer clear.
posted by subocoyne at 5:42 PM on October 24, 2017

It's Never Been A Better Time To Love Horror Games [Kotaku]
“P.T., Hideo Kojima’s ‘playable teaser’ for the cancelled Silent Hills, is a watershed horror game for the modern era. It is shockingly simple in its design. Players navigate a single L-shaped hallway with doors at each end and a bathroom off to one side. Unlike previous entries in the Silent Hill franchise, there is no combat; in fact, there are few mechanics at all. It is horror distilled to its purest form, forcing players to endure new frights every time they walk through a door in this haunted house. It’s a relentless nightmare, all ghosts and moans and weird, squealing sink babies in the dark.

P.T. was such an effective demo for Silent Hills that fans still mourn the game’s eventual cancellation. P.T. might be only an hour long, and it may be nothing like what the full game would have been, but it’s still one of the most powerful horror games to ever exist. The gaming internet banded together to solve its mysteries and abstract puzzles, and for a hot minute P.T. was a phenomenon. It’s no surprise, then, that it continues to have a huge effect on the state of the genre in 2017. It inspired several hallway-heavy upcoming games, such as Visage, Ghost Theory, and Allison Road, all of which seek to make good on P.T’s unfulfilled promises.”
posted by Fizz at 7:25 PM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Watching other people scream while playing Alien: Isolation is like, one of my favorite things to do.
posted by xyzzy at 7:32 PM on October 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

This seems like a good place to point out that Steam is having a Halloween sale with many of the titles discussed in this thread deeply discounted.
posted by subocoyne at 2:29 PM on October 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also, not all the games on the Steam sale are horror games. Contrast, Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) and A Story About My Uncle all look interesting, has anyone here played them?
posted by homunculus at 12:49 PM on October 28, 2017

Never Alone is absolutely worth it at that price. It's a solid platformer and you get some interesting insights into native folklore.
posted by subocoyne at 11:34 AM on October 30, 2017

Catlateral Damage is $3 on sale and it's about being a kitty knocking stuff off shelves and tables. It's not horror or even particularly deep but it's silly fun that reminds me kind of obliquely of Katamari Damacy in its visual design and world full of things.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:13 PM on October 30, 2017

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