I think everybody forgot the term survival horror because any game that’s a horror game, they automatically categorize it as a “survival horror” when they failed to realize that “survival horror” is a sub-genre of horror games. I refuse to categorize the likes of Left 4 Dead or Dead Space a survival horror because they don’t play like the classics nor is the experience the same. If you want to see those games somewhere on the list, then I recommend checking out my Top 5 First-Person Horror Games and Top 10 Action Horror Games. So what does it take for a game be categorize as a survival horror game? It’s a game genre that has little amount of action, more about having low ammo, a lot of advantages go against the player (often tank controls), more than plenty of puzzle solving, various backtracking, adventure game elements, and it has to have enemies that are hard to take down. That is what a survival horror game is. And here in this list, I’m NOT counting down the scariest games of all time (click here to see that list) I’m marking down the best survival horror games of this genre that fullfilled all the requirements of what makes a survival horror and has high replay value along with it.
Number 10. – Siren: Blood Curse
Like it or not, the survival horror genre has grown quite stale over the past few years. Players fight through hordes of monsters and bosses to eventually reach an ending, typically found within predictable areas with only a few jumps or suspenseful moments added. However, Siren: Blood Curse came along to show that this dying breed of horror games is still alive. As an experiment in both survival horror and episodic content, Siren: Blood Curse succeeds on a number of levels. While the first few levels were somewhat clunky, it managed to come together with an increasingly suspenseful set of chapters and cutscenes, frightening jumps and gameplay sequences that could keep you on the edge of your seat for at least a good 12-16 hours. As an episodic content experiment, it proved that the format can work well on the PSN, provided that quality gameplay and stories are presented on the system. If you’re a horror fan, you’ll enjoy the gameplay found within Blood Curse. Heed the Siren’s call.
Number 9. – Dino Crisis
Lots of people, even at the time upon its release, would like to say that this is just Resident Evil turned Jurassic Park. If you still believe that statement throughout all of these years, then you never realized what made this game so special. Unlike Resident Evil, every part of the game’s design is in full 3D, not in a graphical painting. Plus, trying to take out any dinosaur is a lot more challenging than any other video game that features dinosaurs. Just interacting with these dinosaurs from shooting them or running away from them never felt so fun, especially for a concept filled with Dinosaurs.
Number 8. – Parasite Eve
This game is awesome! The developers of Final Fantasy 7 have created a great follow-up project about a hot police chick on an investigation of a supernatural scene that video games have already did, but never like in an action-RPG like this. Parasite Eve is more action and combat focused then some of the other games on this list, but in my opinion it definitely fits the survival horror category (despite the fact that it doesn’t have many scary moments). There are many different puzzles you must solve in order to survive, and the games storyline fits in perfectly with the genre. I really like that this JRPG really took the formula of survival horror and blend it so well together. It’s a every unique experience and one of its kind that should have expanded into having more of them.
Number 7. – Resident Evil 2
This has to be one of the greatest horror sequels of all time. We jumped from the old haunted house to the zombie apocalypse invading Raccoon City. It’s not everyday that we also have a new main character (Leon Kennedy) to play as. This was a fantastic experience where we had so many more zombies and monsters that we ever had before and gave us the full pleasure of feeling like Dawn of the Dead in a video game. The only real shortcoming that Resident Evil 2 has is that it can be beaten by an average gamer in less than a day. There are 3 different versions to each character’s missions but are essentially the same. So, for all of it’s action and nerve wracking moments, if you’re hardcore and have to have all the secrets, RE2 will last you a good long while.
Number 6. – Hunting Ground
Being that this is a spiritual successor of Clocktower, I love the fact that the formula of what makes the game scary remains present; be the victim not the hero. This game feels more realistic in the sense where you can’t kill anyone when you attack them; be able to run and find where to hide. The pursuers in roaming around the game made everything so challenging when you’re trying to hind or loose them. It almost feels like a frightening game of cat and mouse. Most of the time the game gets you so engaged with trying to hide and have very little to do to protect itself which makes the game’s scares to really come to life. It also makes puzzle solving a lot more challenging this time around where you have so many weird things coming in after you and still remain all the traits from the classic survival horror, this is a recommendable title for horror fans since not many have played this game.
Number 5. – Alone in the Dark
Even though there have been mediocre horror games in the past, all shall recognize Alone in the Dark as the very first survival horror game. No doubt about it, every survival horror game after it either took inspiration or flat out rip off Alone in the Dark. The fact that there’s more than plenty of H.P. Lovecraftian elements and references in so many parts of the game sticks out more as an innovator; from the puzzles, gameplay, clues, and scavenging for items. Oh sure, people would like to bitch and moan about the genre being hard to control because of the tank-controls and combat is to use to defend yourself, but do you all know why the modern horror games are no longer scary? Because if you’re too powerful, then there’s nothing to be scared of, and for the fact that it makes it hard to kill an enemy, it really does make the horrors more intimidating and frightening. I can still feel the classic scares still to this day and I am really amazed to finally see that this is finally a 3D game that actually utilized polygons and make them appear like 3D objects. This is the first real steps of 3D graphics for video games and every developer, to this very day is still on the never ending race of displaying the best graphics! But for me, I just love the comfortable feeling of adventuring through a haunted house seen in this very game!
Number 4. – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
I am one of the few that favors for Resident Evil 3: Nemesis more than Resident Evil 2. I understand that the game is set in the same locations that we’ve already seen in Resident Evil 2, however this game was more action packed and varied in the horror department than RE 2 ever was. Not only there were more zombies and monsters lurking around Raccoon City, but we also have the icon Nemesis who appears at random and attacks you with all that he’s got and never rests. This time the tension and the moment when it suddenly cuts to the bone are taken to an even higher screaming point. I’m very sad to see that this is the last true Resident Evil game before the whole series turned into dumb action games and it’s impossible to see if the series will ever go back to its old roots ever again.
Number 3. – Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
Fatal Frame is a very different type of survival horror game. You are armed only with your camera as you face ghosts in a scary Japanese setting. The second installment in the series is my favorite, with two unique characters and a fantastic ghost story to go along with it. Part of the game’s appeal is that it’s very reminiscent to Japanese horror movies and the way you attack ghosts in this game. The way it’s done is to use a camera to take a clear picture of the ghost to commit exorcism. It has to be a good shot and it has to be up & close, which makes it so terrifying to play because its effective when looking at them that close and you have a higher chance to getting killed by them. I never seen a game the rewards the player for being spooked and on your journey it gets more and more frightening. Fatal Frame 2 is so well crafted that it almost felt like a Japanese horror flick; classy and downright creepy that makes us fear for ghosts again. That’s why makes Fatal Frame so damn special; it took the best aspects of the earliest survival horror games, but it’s not afraid to scrap the bad parts and make something new and different. Because it gave us all a huge fearful impression when we all first played this game, it became a benchmark in survival horror games!
Number 2. – Silent Hill 2
The Silent Hill trilogy is the best horror trilogy ever! You have individual main characters coming in the town of silent hill, all the monsters come out as your worst nightmares as representations of character’s psychological troubles, and each of the stories are so well told. But if I had to choose which of the three are the best I have to choose Silent Hill 2. There’s no doubt in my mind that Silent Hill 2 is just the best of its kind (even though the newer games are subpar). It offered some of the most engaging puzzles, biggest surprises, and even the best stories that the genre could offer. Each of the characters have their sorrows and trouble and you question if any of them or any thing is real. You can relate to almost any character of this game and see what drove them phycological, which makes it a very deep and powerful storytelling. Not to mention that Silent Hill is so pleasant, yet disturbing that it feels like it has its own character. Most of all you have a sexually oppressed widower James on the hunt for his lost wife, Mary, in Silent Hill in hopes that she’s still alive somewhere and from here on out, you got yourself just some of the most surprising and deep adventures you can ever see in any video game. The original Silent Hill left me a great impression because it was the first game that I ever fainted; it really was that scary. What beats the game that started it all? How about the sequel that took everything to the next level? Silent Hill 2 was smarter, slicker and more compelling than the original, and it wasn’t afraid to really mess with the player by tackling taboo topics other video games shied away from at the time. Rape, murder, suicide, molestation — that was a brave goddamn game. And of course, it introduced us to Pyramid Head, who would go on to become one of the most iconic monsters in gaming. If a game is judged by its story, then its no wonder why Silent Hill 2 is regarded as some of the best games of all time.
Number 1. – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Remember when I said that in Metal Gear Solid Psycho Mantis’s mind-tricks were the scariest part of the game? Well imagine that concept into an entire game! You got yourself the most creative horror title of all time! This game offers scares that goes far beyond anything that Psycho Mantis can really do (and that’s saying a lot considering how that character fucked me up as a child). It’s such a shame that Nintendo never seemed to be able to shake off its image as a “kiddy” system, despite the fact that one of its first and finest titles was in fact a full-on survival horror title. Eternal Darkness had me hooked immediately and I played it obsessively until I had finished it in all possible ways. Eternal Darkness’s strengths relied on its subtly creepy atmosphere and colorful set of playable characters, all of whom add variety to the gameplay, with their own lives and strifes becoming wrapped up in the over-arching nonlinear storyline. But of course, the absolutely most chilling thing about the game are the sanity effects. As you hack your way through Zombies, Bonethieves and Horrors your character starts losing his or her sanity until the game starts doing all matter of crazy shit. The first time playing, you’re in for some really frightening and shit-disturbing moments, but the more you play the more you learn how to offset the horrendous illusions. Eternal Darkness had fluid and easy-to-master controls (unlike all the games of the genre that uses tank-controls), a brilliant voice-cast, and an excellent soundtrack, all of which contributed to a brilliant gaming experience. It’s easily the best survival horror game I’ve ever played.
- Top 10 Scariest Games of All Time
- Top 10 Action Horror Games
- Top 10 Horror Games that are “NOT” Scary
- Top 10 Non-Horror Games that are Scary
- Top 10 Scariest Video Game Characters
- Top 5 First-Person Horror Games