5. Siren: Blood Curse for PS3
This distinctly Japanese take on the horror genre gets beneath your skin and will have you sweating in no time. Amidst a ghastly village, you’ll face unkillable enemies whose possessed, disturbingly unnatural animations and voicework will stick with you well after the lengthy episodic nightmare.
You control multiple characters through a bizarre and terrifying journey involving cults and unearthly creatures. Siren’s special gameplay gimmick allows you to look through the eyes of your monstrous enemies in order to avoid head-on confrontations. Though some characters acquire the odd pistol or rifle now and then, most of the time you are tasked with stealthily tip-toeing around demonic villagers, gripping your controller in total suspense.
4. Dead Space for PS3 and Xbox 360
Borrowing creature designs straight out of John Carpenter’s The Thing, Dead Space is a harrowing experience. Dead Space expertly updates the seminal action/horror game design formula of Resident Evil 4. Even though Dead Space is less cerebral than other horror games on this list, it features more jump scares than any other title, and unforgettable scripted events. The crack team at EA’s Visceral Games truly brought an unseen level of graphic and audio fidelity, gore, and frights.
Dead Space takes place on a massive, derelict spaceship adrift in the blackness of space. You are engineer Isaac Clark (a nod to literary luminaries Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke) and your goal is to survive. The multi-limbed aliens that rampage and haunt the game’s barren vessel need to be dismembered in order to be defeated. Although largely action oriented, Dead Space is a well-paced horror story, with stunning heart-stopping moments.
3. Resident Evil 2 for PS1
The second entry into Capcom’s blockbuster franchise set the de facto formula for survival horror games. Featuring two distinct storylines for series favorites Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, you’ll navigate through the zombie-infested town of Racoon City, and take refuge in the police department. Of course, nowhere is safe, and every room has its share of secrets and dangers.
Beating the game unlocks numerous other characters and alternate playthroughs. Memorably, an insanely difficult post-game challenge places you in control of a giant brick of tofu (!) armed only with a knife. Who knew zombies cared for tofu? Also of note: Resident Evil 2 was directed by Hideki Kamiya, the mastermind behind current generation titles like Bayonetta, Vanquish, and the upcoming The Wonderful 101.
2. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem for Nintendo Gamecube
Developed exclusively for Nintendo’s Gamecube by the studio Silicon Knights, this classic horror title is pure psychological terror. Borrowing heavily from the weird-fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, Eternal Darkness’ unique gothic tone and vision of otherworldly horrors make it a standout in the genre. You play as a series of characters, all from different time periods, linked inextricably by forces from a dark beyond.
A Roman Centurion, a World War I field reporter, a Franciscan monk, a modern day student, and more are bound together and tell a riveting story. Eternal Darkness is an adventure game that horror aficionados—especially Lovecraft fans—will enjoy, replete with Ancient gods, possessed beings, and occult magic. The gameplay involves casting spells and surviving with your sanity intact as you experience hideous monsters and uncover dark secrets.
1. Silent Hill 2 for PS2 and Xbox
Fraught with jumps, tension, terror, and complex horror, Silent Hill 2 is widely regarded as the best horror game ever. An unmistakable tone and constant subtext make this horror title especially remarkable. Silent Hill 2 elevates the horror genre by injecting a psychological aspect to its brand of terror as protagonist James Sunderland searches for his supposedly deceased wife.
The creepy town of Silent Hill beckons James, and the disturbing revelations about his personal story are too good to spoil. As you make your way through the fog-ridden town, radio static crackles when you near enemies. You’ll solve puzzles and fight incredibly designed monsters as you reveal more about James and the other denizens of Silent Hill. The unforgettable atmosphere and stirring suspense of Silent Hill 2 remains largely unrivaled.