I by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
You might not approve of this list, but it’s mine, so we’re doing it my way, and that’s just the way it’s gonna be. I’m personally not big on horror games; I think they’re bland, tired, and tedious. They don’t scare me, and “OMG JUMPSCARE” is just obnoxious. So, I wanted to consider some potential horror titles that maybe you have (or have not) considered to be in the horror genre, and why I enjoy them. Some of these may be a little obvious, some might not. But that’s why it’s my list! This list will also not feature a game I don’t play or do not enjoy, because what’s the fun in that? Maybe I’ll do a separate list of my least-favorite horror-style games, so I can get that salt boiling in other people.
Castlevania (NES): Let’s start with something traditional: Castlevania. Originally I picked SOTN, but I talk about how great that game is enough. So let’s start where it all began for us in America, with Castlevania. It’s a tribute to the Hammer Horror films in such a tremendous way. Frankenstein, Dracula, Zombies, Huge Bats, skeletons, you name it. Not only is it brutally difficult and punishing, but you don’t have allies to call on like it Castlevania 3, or major power-ups like in Castlevania 2. It’s a true testament to gritty, dark, traditional horror. It has a soundtrack that you just can’t beat, but it is littered with just as many flaws. Falling/failing to climb stairs will lead you to your doom, and the Clocktower is always such fantastic goddamn bullshit. Just typing “Clocktower” made me angry. But if you want horror, you go with Castlevania.
Resident Evil 4 (Various Platforms): On a personal level, I don’t really play the Resident Evil games. Not out of any malice, I just enjoy watching other people play them more. But the one I put the most time into was certainly Resident Evil 4. It had a nice variety of areas to travel through. All of them were foreboding, and it was a great tribute to the “Zombie Survival” trope. In most Zombie films, all of the heroes/survivors die, but that’s not going down in RE4. It combines the traditional overrun of Zombies with the RE storytelling, and of course, awesome villains. It had replayability and had a creepy factor that wasn’t matched until the Resident Evil remakes of the last couple of years. Had it come out with today’s technology, many pairs of pants would be wet by gamers around the world.
Bloodborne (PS4): This is the one I probably know the least about on this list. I’ve watched a lot of people play it, and have only dipped my toes into the waters of Bloodborne. I’m not all that fond of the Souls gameplay; it’s just not for me, and that’s fine. But I love the setting for Bloodborne. The visual style of the game is unrivaled and broken, dilapidated areas you explore are just so goddamn spooky. Everything feels so hopeless and empty, with virtually no living thing on your side. Everything looks horrific, brutal, and it all seems to hate you, no matter what. So what choice do you have but to kill, kill, and kill some more to get to some measure of safety? Bloodborne is a game that I’d like to spend more time with. It’s more of the “No hope, no shelter” horror. There isn’t much in the way of light or hope, but you have to make your way to the end. That’s just the way I view it, anyway.
Persona 4 (Playstation Vita): I played Persona 4: The Golden, not the original, so that’s why I listed the Vita. You can keep your Persona 5, I don’t care how much better you think it is than every other Persona game. I haven’t finished 5 yet, so I can’t say one way or another. But the “whodunit” horror genre is one I think is pretty damn neat. People are being brutally murdered, and no punches were pulled in the story of Persona 4. I was angry beyond belief when I finally got to the end and found the murderer. It is a rare moment in time where a game made me feel genuine, blinding hatred for a person that isn’t even real, because of what they did and why. There are plenty of Red Herrings and distractions all the way up until the very end of Persona 4. It, to me, is a must-play if you’re into horror games, or being repulsed by the evil of man.
Metroid (NES): I wanted to use Super Metroid but that’s another one I talk about too much, potentially. But while Super Metroid is definitely a horror game, it’s got nothing on its predecessor. Metroid, whether by design or by technical limitations is true horror fare, inspired perhaps by Alien. You have no map, no idea where to go, and no hope. You don’t know where the bosses are, or any of the powerups, without consulting a guide. You constantly backtrack, and death is a major penalty. It takes forever to grind your health and missiles. The game doesn’t even start you at full health! Your cap before Energy Tanks is 99, but you start with 30! You are alone on a planet full of creatures that hate you simply for existing. Think about that. On an entire freakin’ planet, you are the only human life. You have no allies, no friends. You can only wield one powerful gun at a time, and you have to seek them out. Metroid inspired a whole genre of games, and changed how we look at exploring video games just in general. To me, Metroid is the undisputed King (or Queen, I should say) of the video game horror genre.
What about you? What are your favorite horror games?